Why Being an Introvert Doesn’t Mean You Can't be a Good Communicator
Posted on 31st August 2018 at 18:08
Article Credit: Summer Barrett
Introverts are often misunderstood, with many misconceptions put forward. Chief among them is the notion that introversion is a barrier to effective leadership, and that is a misconception that bestselling author Susan Cain is trying to disprove. Related to this misconception is the false impression that introverts are not (or cannot be) good communicators. Yes, some have difficulties expressing themselves, but not all introverts have the same problem.
Introverts are known to be generally quiet, and this silence can be deafening to many. They view this quietness unfavourably, especially given the apparent dichotomy between the quiet (the introverts) and the loud (the extroverts). Extroverts according to Glamour, describe the silence as “unnerving” and “bad” even though the nervous system of introverts is the culprit behind their craving for quietness (and solitude).
But it’s wrong to view this predilection for silence as incapacity to communicate. Many introverts can do so fairly well, and a handful of them are actually exceptional communicators, like the author JK Rowling, and billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Remember, introversion is due to an individual’s nervous system and does not affect one’s capacity to learn. In short, introverts can learn the ability to communicate effectively in order to lead. Interestingly, there are nuances to communication that everyone must learn, as we put forward in our previous post ‘How Do You Say It?’ The article discussed how the way a message is conveyed affects its receiver, and it is something one can learn either through experience or in oral communication classes.
Consider the case of Dan Nainan, an introvert with the gift of comedic eloquence. Nainan shared with the BBC how he switched careers, from being a Silicon Valley engineer to becoming a comedian. He achieved this by enrolling on a short course offered by Comedy Bible author Judy Carter. Nainan’s case is proof that old dogs can learn new tricks.
Former U.S. president Barack Obama is another interesting and compelling case in point. Obama is a self-admitted introvert, yet his skills as a communicator — both verbally and in writing — are unmatched. He is by and large one of the best in terms of elucidating his thoughts and ideas, with his various speeches and bestselling books clear evidence of such excellence. And there is little doubt that his time at Occidental College, Columbia University, and Harvard Law School helped mould him to become the communicator that he is today.
Now, it is important to bear in mind that introversion is different from shyness, which is described as a “fairly common phenomenon” in an article by Lottoland entitled ‘5 Tips to Say Goodbye to Shyness’. Shy people suffer from insecurity and will, in fact, make a conscious effort to avoid social situations. In contrast, introverts prefer solitude, but are nonetheless ready and willing to interact with others when the need arises. They are thus able to utilise — and by extension, hone or practice — their communication skills. This is why a number of introverts, like Rowling, Gates, Buffet, and Obama are surprisingly articulate and circumspect.
Introverts can, indeed, be good communicators, and with a bit of practice, can be great communicators capable of leading a team, business, or even a country.
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