Following on from my recent post about pretending and prompted by a recent client question, I feel the need to write about something that may actually be preventing people from understanding introversion better. Hiding the truth.
We know that many Introverts are tired of pretending and yet when it comes to saying no or creating and managing their own boundaries, some are not prepared to take that step. When I’m working with clients enabling their assertiveness, I know how tempting it can be to wrap their message over-politely so as not to offend. We often justify this as being polite and what is expected in society, but it doesn’t actually help the cause of us as Introverts.
Let me explain. I don’t believe we have the right to complain about people not understanding us, if we don’t take the opportunity to explain what we need and why. I know this is a stretch for many of us but if we want things to be different, I feel we must take positive action.
There are so many situations where being frank would help to enlighten others and at the heart of a lot of them are invitations; social and business. So, whether it be meetings, parties, lunches, conferences, cinema trips or office chatter, declining honestly is worth it in the long run!
I’ve heard people being apologetic and rather subservient, saying something like “would you mind terribly if I didn’t come?” or making excuses or even accepting an invitation knowing they won’t actually attend. None of these helps to dispel the myths about Introverts being unsociable, stuck-up, loners, shy or moody. How about saying why it’s difficult for you, something like “It’s kind of you to offer. I’m going to decline as I really need to take some time to recharge my batteries. Thank you for asking though.” Many of the introverts I work with say they want to be invited so they have choice. Those with social anxiety are likely to be filled with dread at the invitation though, so this may not be for them. If it’s a work invitation, how about “Thank you for inviting me. Please send me the detailed agenda well in advance so that I can fully prepare before the meeting.” Or “Who is chairing the meeting? As an Introvert, I tend to find it hard to get heard when everyone starts speaking so I’d like to have a chat with the chair beforehand.”
You’ll develop your own version of these over time so start small and start now. When we start helping people understand us and our needs, we stand a chance of busting the commonly held myths and changing the bias that exists.
So less cotton-wool: Be more Frank!