The Quiet Interviews: Holly

In today’s post we hear from Holly who is a freelance software developer. I want to say a big thank you to her for sharing her thoughts with us. 

How do you form networks and connect with others as an introvert?

I have a small circle of people I hold dear. Sometimes I find myself listing them as the list can  change over time, but the list is rarely more than 10 people. Sometimes it is hard as they are extroverts and don’t have as much time for me as I have for them. But I don’t need much of their time, once a month is good for most of my friends. I have a spouse who is a little less introverted. I spend a lot of time with him and enjoy it. When he goes away I look for more company from my friends but on average I like one social commitment per week in addition to spending a lot of time with my spouse.

I am particularly bad at social media. I will look at it but feel uneasy about posting things. It feels like a public broadcast, which is not aligned with how I like to communicate. I have started using Instagram with a smaller circle of friends and family members, but people keep following me which makes it less appealing. I am not sure how to manage this. 

I enjoy seeing friends in small groups, a maximum of six people. More than that feels tiring at best. I like seeing family in the same way. Right now my family wants to do everything as a big loud group! I find that less enjoyable and would prefer to see them in smaller groups.

When I first moved to my city I made lots of effort. I joined a few volunteer and non-profit groups and made friends through that. I have an “on/off” mode that I use so I can be friendly and outgoing when needed, and I often use this to make friends. I enjoy female company and have a collection of “girlfriends” that I like to see for one-on-one dates. I love animals too. I wish I had a dog and am working on getting one!

Which of your strengths as an introvert do you value most and how do you use this in your work?

I have strong intuition and an ability to read social situations. I am perceptive and this helps me understand social dynamics. In my work this can help me navigate difficult social situations and stay ahead of conflict. 

I work well independently. This skill allowed me to transition from a government job that was very busy, social and stressful, to a job where I work on software from home. 

I have strong organisational, problem solving and analytical skills and can see relationships between different concepts. This helps me in software but I am also looking forward to working in professional organising. I have helped my friends organise their spaces and enjoy the combination of using my intuition/perception and organisational and problem solving skills all at once. This is also typically a one-on-one job which is also great for introverts!

What is your number one tip for succeeding as an introvert?

Find a remote job! There are more and more remote jobs and not just for people in software, although this is a good field if you are choosing a field or looking for a career transition. As an introvert working from home you have control over your space, are protected from office politics and the stress of working with others directly, and feel recharged so that you can enjoy seeing your friends and family. If you can’t find a completely remote job, maybe you can find one that is sometimes remote. 

The Quiet Interviews: Eli Trier

Today we hear from Eli Trier who is an artist, an author and award-winning blogger. I am very excited that she agreed to take part in this series of interviews and share her thoughts with us. I don’t know about you, but I love hearing insights and tips from people like Eli and find it incredibly useful.

You can find out more about Eli’s work further below – please take a look.

How do you form networks and connect with others as an introvert?

There are so many ways for us to connect with like-minded people all over the world, without ever having to leave the house. I am a member of numerous Facebook groups, and I follow a lot of blogs and subscribe to a lot of newsletters from people I feel are on my wavelength. Some of my most treasured friendships have come from striking up a conversation by replying to a blog post or newsletter that resonates. Doing courses and free challenges can be a great way to connect with people as well. I’m always on the hunt for people doing cool stuff, and I’ve been described as a ‘collector of kindred spirits’, which I love! I’ve built my network by establishing myself as a connector of people – I always try to introduce people if I think they can help each other out, or they’re doing similar work etc.

Last year I started doing community projects, where I bring a whole bunch of people together and get them talking about a particular subject – that’s been a fantastic way to broaden my own network, and deepen my existing relationships. As long as you stick with being kind and helpful, and only pursue the connections which make you happy and feel genuine, then you can’t go far wrong. 

Occasionally, I find the noise of the internet all too much and need to withdraw for a while, but because I spend time consciously nurturing my network when I’m feeling ‘peoply’ (albeit from behind a screen), I find I can jump back in after a break with very little problem.

As introverts we tend to value a few deep connections over a gazillion superficial ones – this is actually helpful for business because it means that you’re able to build a really supportive community around you. Pay attention to one person at a time and build your network with people you actually know and care about. Say hello to anyone you think is cool or feels like a kindred spirit – not all of them will be, but the more you do it the better you get at spotting them. If you’re shy, just practice – it’s so much easier to send a quick email reply to someone’s blog post than it is to go up to a stranger in real life.

Which of your strengths as an introvert do you value most and how do you use this in your work?

My biggest strength as an introvert, and a fundamental part of my business, is my introspection and self-reflection. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out life stuff, and when I make a breakthrough I feed it into my work to help others – either as practical advice, or just to share my story so people know they’re not alone with whatever they’re struggling with. I couldn’t do the work that I do without utilising that skill.

What is your number one tip for succeeding as an introvert?

Make absolutely sure that you’re getting the downtime and solitude that you need. Fill your own cup first before trying to help anyone else. Know what you need to be a happy, productive, well-rested person, and give that to yourself before you even think about anyone else. Set clear boundaries, and make sure the people closest to you understand your need for space and solitude.

About Eli

Eli Trier is an artist, author and award-winning blogger who teaches people how to build lives making art. She has been working with and mentoring creatives for nearly a decade. Over the years she has developed tools and techniques to realign creatives with their work, enabling them to be more courageous, productive and confident.

Eli teaches online courses on a variety of subjects around the theme of the creative process. Her first book, The Gratitude Project: A Year of Saying Thank You to The People Who Changed My Life is available from Amazon.

Find out more about Eli and her at her website, http://elitrier.com

The Quiet Interviews: Christy Tending

In this post we hear from Christy Tending. I am delighted she agreed to take part in this series of interviews and share her thoughts with us all. Christy is a self-care mentor and you can find out a lot more about her and her work at the end of this article, so please do scroll down and take a look.

How do you form networks and connect with others as an introvert?

I recognize that introversion doesn’t always look one way. There are a lot of facets to being an introvert. In my case, I appear very outgoing, and I’m a confident public speaker, even though I identify strongly as an introvert. For me, the best ways to connect with others are in small doses and in small groups. I know that an all-day networking event or conference exhausts me. I prefer to interact in smaller chunks of time and in more intimate settings.

I also need a lot of time to recharge after I’ve spent time connecting. It takes a lot out of me, so I always need to build in a buffer so that I can recover afterward.

That being said, as an introvert, I’m really comfortable being by myself. As a result, I think my introversion makes me more confident and authentic. Because I’m so at ease on my own, I feel less pressure to impress others and tend to get to the heart of the matter quickly. This kind of real talk helps me connect with the people I’m meant to connect to.

Which of your strengths as an introvert do you value most and how do you use this in your work?

There are a number of facets of my introversion that I see as real assets in my life and work. The first is that I’m very internally-motivated. I don’t need lots of external validation. Instead, I’m driven to create and make an impact from a purely internal place. I don’t thrive on others’ energy, so my motivations aren’t contingent on others’ opinions either.

The second is my intuition. My mom likes to say that when I was a baby, I didn’t interact much, but she could tell I was absorbing everything. I’ve been really quiet my whole life, but as a result, I’m highly intuitive. This other kind of knowing has served me really well.

What is your number one tip for succeeding as an introvert?

Respect yourself and don’t try to be anyone else. I agonized for years trying to be an extrovert, and I could have saved myself a lot of time and agony if I’d just allowed myself to be who I really am. Introverts are awesome, and we bring a lot to the party of life. It might be cliche, but the best way to succeed is by allowing yourself to be exactly who you are, without apology.

About Christy, in her own words:

Christy Tending is a self-care mentor and activist who helps world-changing people develop amazing self-care. She lives in Oakland, California with her husband, their feral cats, and their son, Arlo; she makes her online home at ChristyTending.com

Learning about leading introverts from the expert

Last month I was lucky enough to attend a talk by Susan Cain organised by the London Business Forum. I have been a fan of Susan’s work ever since I read her book ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’ which helped me understand myself a lot better and see myself in a completely new way.

So when I heard she was coming to the UK to speak about leading introverts I knew I had to go. Although the thought of attending the session on my own felt somewhat daunting, my interest and passion for the subject helped me get over that quickly.

The first thing I noticed when I arrived was how well-attended it was. I hadn’t been sure what to expect in terms of numbers as it’s a fairly specialist topic, but there were a lot of people in the audience reinforcing how important this area is.

The talk itself covered a number of areas, from attending meetings to being an introverted leader. Susan started off by asking the audience to consider whether a great leader or thinker needed to be gregarious or dominant, stating that she wanted to challenge this concept. As soon as those words left her mouth, I knew this was going to be a great session!

I learned a lot, but the biggest thing I took away was this – whilst we may need to stretch our comfort zone at times, that is completely different to being someone we are not. I took great comfort in that because for me it’s so important to remain true to myself. That is something I’ve only learned in the past couple of years. Before then I would often be two different people – I thought being quieter meant I wouldn’t fit in or wouldn’t get ahead so I tried to hide that part of me. It was exhausting.

One of the things I am personally going to try after attending the talk and which Susan herself suggested is to think about what I want to say before attending a meeting and to make myself speak up early. Apparently, the idea that is put forward early in a meeting becomes the one that others centre around, and comments and ideas are more likely to be directed to that person. Also, I know from painful experience that the longer I wait to say something in a meeting the more difficult it becomes.

It was a great session and I came out feeling energised. And I left with a signed book!

The Quiet Interviews: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in work and life about how to connect successfully with others as an introvert?

This page contains the responses that introverts have given to the question, ‘What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in work and life about how to connect successfully with others as an introvert? ‘ 

“I think the most important thing I have learnt is not actually about when I spend time with people but more about trying to balance this with time away from people! Also trying to find people with similar hobbies so we are more likely to enjoy time together. Quieter things like walking, reading, art galleries rather than big, noisy social events.” (Genevieve, Occupational Therapist)



“For me, now that I am retired, it all has the benefit of hindsight. For a start, I think it is important to find a workplace where we feel we can fit in to an acceptable level. I have found that some workplaces are harsh, competitive places, but others can be more supportive to those of us who are quieter and more reserved. If it isn’t possible to change workplace, then I found it helped to make small adjustments. For example, I could sometimes choose to have my lunch at a quieter time, where I could chat to individual members of staff rather than be part of a larger, louder group. I guess I’m saying it’s about finding a context where our introvert natures can blossom, rather than going against the tide. Finally, I would say not to fake it! I think if we stay true to ourselves, we will attract and make connections with people that we want to be with and work with. There is a difference between being an introvert and being withdrawn, but sometimes trying too hard in a situation that doesn’t suit us makes me overtired and withdrawn. I have found that going with the crowd just for the sake of feeling part of it just leaves me feeling dissatisfied. In a nutshell, I am saying:

1. Find a work situation that is as supportive as possible of our introverted natures and that will make use of the strengths that go with that.

2. Be true to yourself and take care of yourself. It could be that you feel like a square peg in a round hole, but it doesn’t mean that fitting into a round hole is the way to go. Maybe we just need to find more square pegs to relate to and connect with as a way to support ourselves. (Anne, Retired)



“The most important thing I’ve learned is to be myself and be upfront and honest. Although I feel I am professional in the work place I have always thought myself less knowledgable than others and not so good at putting or stating how I feel, or the things I need, into words. In a competitive employee environment I found it extremely easy to take a step back and let others dominate with their suggestions and ideas. 

Thinking long term I wander if this was also another reason for taking a step out of employment and opting for the self-employed route instead. I didn’t enjoy trying to make connections within a competitive environment, it felt false. 

In my current ‘sole trader’ role I am honest and open with clients and try to be just ‘me’. I am what I am and if my face doesn’t fit then I am not the right person for that job. I need to be able to work closely with clients in designing so it is important that our relationship works and we have a communicative bond. Although work isn’t coming out of my ears I seem to have a good rapport with those I have worked with and get repeat business from them, which I am beginning to learn perhaps says it all.” (Sam, Interior Designer)



“So I think over time and getting older helps with overall confidence but I believe this is because I’m getting better at things generally, in both life and work. The more experience I gain and the better I get at my job the more confident I am when dealing with others. I can still find some situations quite awkward but only when I feel out of my depth and less prepared than anyone else. Being prepared, knowledgable and skilled in a particular subject or task gives me a huge amount of confidence that can get me through most interactions that I encounter. I also work better in small groups, say three or four, rather than speaking to a large crowd or a one on one situation which focuses all the attention on myself alone. Being genuine, friendly and eager to help goes a long way in the view of most people so any insecurities and awkwardness that may occur when connecting with others are usually dispelled.” (Marc, Creative Director)

The Quiet Interviews: Alauna Whelan

This is the first in what I hope will be a series of interviews with introverts. The format is simple, just three questions that I hope will help other introverts to connect and thrive. I am thrilled Alauna agreed to go first and I cannot thank her enough for taking part. 

Alauna is passionate about cultivating community and supportive sisterhood and as a creative, works extensively with crystals. Please do take the time to scroll down for Alauna’s details and to find out more about her work.

How do you form networks and connect with others as an introvert?

I do quite a bit of in-person group work through monthly women’s circles. As an introvert this allows me to connect with multiple people all at once for a few hours. I am quite passionate about building community and connection amongst women, but I don’t have the capacity for one on one work. Offering group sessions allows me to prepare and be engaged for a few hours without having to maintain an ongoing practice of engaging with people for hours everyday.

I also think that the power of the internet and social media has allowed many introverts to build and engage with their communities on terms that better suit our need for solitude and downtime. For me, it has permitted me to share from the heart and connect with people online. If I am having a hard day, I can simply put my phone down or shut off my computer and come back to things later on when I am feeling more settled. Having flexibility and freedom are extremely important for me.

Which of your strengths as an introvert do you value most and how do you use this in your work?

I feel that I am continually reflecting and contemplating my own feelings and thoughts. I am a deep thinker and sharing my own challenges, quirks, wounds, and how I try to assimilate them creates a lot of self-awareness. We are all just trying to make sense of this crazy world and it can feel so daunting. If we can begin with ourselves, that feels much more empowering to me. It feels so much more doable to implement some small changes in my inner world than attempting to influence the greater outer world. I feel that this quote sums up so much of what I try to do in my work “We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” – Mahatma Gandhi

I deeply value integrity and authenticity. This is often the foundation and commonality that is woven into my work. Doing the right thing and being open about my struggles has been imperative for my own personal growth and that of my business.

What is your number one tip for succeeding as an introvert?

I think the biggest key is self-awareness. Know yourself and your needs. For me, I have to balance my workshops with something creative. My creative work fills my cup and is really fluid. I completely go with the flow when it comes to my creative offerings and work when I am inspired. My group sessions are more structured and can sometimes have me feeling a bit depleted. It’s vital for me to carve out adequate downtime and solitude following events where I need to interact and engage. 

Alauna’s details:

Website: alaunawhelan.com

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/alaunawhelan

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/alauna.whelan

Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/thecrystalmystic

Sorry

This weekend I’ve been learning how to do more things on my website and making some improvements. A friend has been giving me lessons on things that I don’t even understand, although I know a bit more now than I did a couple of days ago! I’m not very technical and I decided I needed to be so that I can make this website as good as it can be.

Anyway it has meant that followers of this blog have received a few notifications in their inbox each time we’ve posted a ‘test’ blog post. I just wanted to say that I’m really sorry about this. I never meant for this to happen and it must have been very annoying.

I have finished my testing now so this will no longer happen. But it means that there will be some new and exciting things to watch out for in the future on here.

Again, I’m really sorry to those who have received these notifications. I’m still learning, but thanks for putting up with me!