Being a Communication major, people tend to automatically assume you have this gargantuan, larger than life personality, and that you’re just a natural people-person. Why else would someone enter a field that is characterized for people who were born to communicate?
From my personal experience, I have to say that this image of a typical Communication student is fairly true. Most of the people I have met in my studies or work places have been exceptionally easy to get along with, and thrive around others.
But as in most things, there are exceptions. What is the exception, you ask?
I introduce to you, the introvert.
To be honest, as an introvert working in the field of Communication, I feel like a bit of fraud. My co-workers and supervisors are all about dealing with people; they have an uncanny ability to speak to anyone and everyone, regardless of the situation, and they rarely (if ever) seem to have those hated awkward moments. Me? Not so much.
‘People-person’ is not usually the first word that comes to mind when you hear the word introvert. Introverts need some quality alone time to recollect our thoughts and recharge ourselves, and frankly, a new (albeit harmless) workplace environment can seem like a nightmare to introverts.
But not worry! There is a place for introverts in the field of Communication, and if there’s anything I have learned by participating in Co-op, it’s that you just have to learn to embrace your introvertedness and own it in order to succeed!
Here are some tips for my fellow introverts on how to do so and ultimately excel at work in our naturally-extroverted field.
1. You’re going to make mistakes and have some awkward moments. That’s okay.
This is something that everyone needs to be reminded of; the embarrassment of making a mistake would haunt my inner monologue for the rest of the week if I let it. The same goes for awkward moments. In a department full of extroverts, you might feel overwhelmed and not quite able to pick up social cues on time, and this can lead to some unpleasant situations that may feel like the end of the world at the time. When this happens, just take a few deep breaths, re-group, and remind yourself that no one is likely to remember your flub the next day.
2. It’s okay if you don’t speak in meetings.
Really it is.
What we may lack in speaking, we make up for in listening. Listening is how we process the world around us – we’re kind of like sponges that way. Chances are, you’re going to come out of a meeting you didn’t speak in having absorbed most, if not all, of what everyone else talked about, giving you all the information you need to perform your job to the fullest! And remember: when you do speak, people are more likely to listen because what you have to say is important.
3. Don’t feel bad if you don’t feel like joining in on all the work activities and conversations right away or all the time
Remember how the work place is basically a whole new environment for you?
You’re allowed to take time to feel your way around the office. Everyone has a different comfort zone, and even introverts have different levels of recharging time. Excusing yourself from an activity or turning down an invitation out for lunch or coffee doesn’t make you rude as long as you are polite about it. You’ll get to a more comfortable level of socializing at your workplace if you just take it one day at a time.
4. At the end of the day, just remember… they hired you for a reason.
Introverts may seem pretty reserved and quiet, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need some reassurance from time to time. You were hired at your Co-op job for a reason, so make the most of your time at your work place and it won’t matter if you’re an introvert or extrovert – you’ve got the chops and skills to back it up!
Beyond the Blog
Break the introvert myths, consider volunteering as a Career Peer.