Expressing Yourself and Your Ideas as an Introvert in an Extraverted World

January 28, 2019

rawpixel-682403-unsplashIf you are introverted or reserved, you may sometimes feel pressure in an extraverted world to express your thoughts and ideas even though you don’t really feel the need to share them. Each individual has their own preferences for when to engage and communicate with other people professionally and personally.

You may wonder: “Why do I need to do this?” The answer is – you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. However, sometimes at work or at home, it will be in your best interest to share your thoughts and ideas verbally (aloud) with others.

Also, there are times that everyone, whether introverted or extraverted, might choose to do something that they don’t prefer to do, or that that don’t feel they excel at, to reach an important goal or to strengthen a relationship.

Even if you don’t feel the need to share your thoughts, developing skills to engage with others and express yourself will enhance your ability to contribute professionally when it will help you to reach your goals.

  • Need help from a colleague or mentor?
    • Mentors are not mind readers. it’s important to let him or her know and ask for their help.
  • Want to express your opinion about a problem or experimental approach?
    • You will be more effective if you can discuss your ideas out loud as well as in writing.
  • Looking to meet new people for social or career purposes?
    • Find a way to reach out. Even extraverts can be shy and will appreciate your taking time to talk with them.

You may be applying for graduate school or medical school after your post-bac or seeking a full-time job after your post-doc at NIH.  Just doing good work or getting good grades is not enough to help people understand your strengths and goals

Developing assertive skills to speak up about your skills and knowledge will enable the faculty/employers evaluating your applications to understand you and the knowledge and commitment you will bring to their organization or university.

The more you develop your skills at reaching out: commenting, talking and engaging with other colleagues and fellow scientists, the more effective you will be in communicating your ideas.

If you prefer introversion you probably have many internal thoughts and ideas about issues and problems/experiments. It will help you and your mentor/colleagues to better understand you if they actually hear your thoughts.

Speaking up and sharing our thoughts is an assertive act and one that is sometimes not as important or preferred by people who are introverted. They simply do not have the need to talk about their thoughts all the time. For extraverts – talking about their thoughts is an important part of the process of thinking through a problem and sorting through the alternatives.

No matter what your preferences, you can be more effective in making requests and expressing your ideas and opinions if you use I-Statements.

Planning an I-Statement can help you to clarify your thoughts and focus on the message you want to express or the request you would like to make.

Using I statements would include a formula something like this:

Use a 3-part statement:

  • Describe a behavior or situation that is going on, or what you want or need
  • The effects are . . . (describe how the behavior or situation concretely affects you or would affect you)
  • I’d prefer, I’d like . . . (describe what you want/need/plan to do)

 For example:

  1. I think I have enough results to present at the ASM meeting in September in Arizona.
  2. I think this would really help me move ahead toward my goal of working in academia.
  3. Do you think the lab would be able to support my attendance at this meeting?

Using I statements doesn’t guarantee that we will always get what we want. However, they can be a great first step in letting other people know about our ideas and goals and also help us to clarify our thoughts.

Remember that it is up to you how you choose to engage and speak up professionally and personally in the world.

Assertive behavior can help you to be more effective when you choose to communicate your ideas and requests. The next assertiveness workshop will take place on be Feb 28, 2019. https://www.training.nih.gov/events/view/_2/2629/Speaking_Up_How_to_Ask_for_What_You_Need_in_the_Lab_and_in_Life

If you aren’t at the NIH, two good resources for follow-up include:

  1. Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking 
  2. Susan Cain’s blog on executive presence for Introverts

https://www.quietrev.com/executive-presence-for-introverts/

 

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Core Competencies & Blog Resources

January 14, 2019

There are four groups of skills that all trainees need to have to help ensure success in their careers. These skills are not only beneficial for success if your current role, but are vital skills to continue to develop in order to excel in future career paths. Below are descriptions of these skills sets and a listing of blog posts on each topic. Check out the posts to delve a bit further into each subject area.

Core competencies include:

COMMUNICATION
We communicate with people everyday:  writing papers, sending emails, giving presentations, or discussing ideas in meetings.  In almost every job, the ability to share thoughts and ideas clearly with others is a necessary competency.

Blog Posts to Check Out:
Difficult Work Conversations
Negotiating Across Cultures
Interviewing with Confidence
Improving Your Writing Skills
Public Speaking for Introverts

CAREER READINESS & EXPLORATION
Starting your career search requires a strong set of skills:  From preparing for job interviews and writing cover letters, to networking and using social media for finding jobs or opportunities for collaborations.

Blog Posts to Check Out:
Best Practices for Resume Writing
Guide to Cover Letters
Five Most Common Networking Excuses
How I Overcame My Fear of Informational Interviewing
Career Options Series

LEADERSHIP & MANAGEMENT
Any position that requires managing people requires effective teamwork skills.  Are you the president of your student group, or supervising others in your lab?  Then you need leadership skills.  Not only do we need strong people management skills, but you also need project management skills, such as being able to set realistic milestones for your research or thesis, and then hitting those deadlines.

Blog Posts to Check Out:
Good Mentoring Guidelines
Identifying Mentors and Getting the Most Out of Your Mentoring Relationships
Manage Your Time with a Tomato
A Tool for Feedback: Situation, Behavior, Impact
There Aren’t Enough Hours in the Day – Time Management Tips

TEACHING & MENTORING
Teaching and mentoring skills help us share knowledge with others, and go beyond the classroom setting.  More experienced employees often share knowledge and information with newer ones, which helps the entire team or organization be more effective.

Blog Posts to Check Out:
Tomorrow’s Professors: Preparing for the Academic Job Market
Getting a Faculty Job, Revisited
Managing Mentoring Relationships – Tips of Mentors and Mentees
Writing the Teaching Statement
Basic Overview: The US Academic System


New Year – New Career?

January 1, 2019

Happy 2019!brooke-lark-194254-unsplash

According to this article, fewer people are making new year’s resolutions to exercise or lose weight. More people (37%, up from 6% in 2018) are focusing on saving money. Others seem to be resolving to make new friends (11%), get a new job (12%), and find love (7%).

If you are among the 12% looking for a new job this new year, here are some career resolutions that can help you stay on track.

  1. Resolve to be more accountable by joining a job search group.
    If you want to make a change in your professional domain, you should start by making SMART resolutions. SMART is an acronym used to describe goals as :

    S
     = Specific
    M = Measurable
    A = Attainable
    R = Realistic
    T = Time-bound

    Many resolutions are too vague and don’t put in the accountability often needed for success. For example, often individuals find that having a workout buddy can help them actually get to the gym because there is now an external source of accountability. If you think you would benefit from having an external support group and you are at the NIH, consider applying for the 2019 Job Search Work Team. This support group will meet weekly for a month in order to promote career-oriented action steps among members. For more details, see the online application here: https://www.training.nih.gov/sas/_20/1558/

    If you are outside the NIH, consider creating one of your own with friends/colleagues. This could be a great way to kick start your new year and stay on track!

  2. Resolve to do one thing.
    This seems like a manageable resolution, right? Too often, people make too many resolutions and then become overwhelmed about where to start. Choose just one thing and follow through. If you need some ideas on what that one thing should be, check out our monthly calendar of suggestions here. Whether it is speaking with your PI about your career or making an appointment with an OITE career counselor, choose one thing and do it.

  3. Commit to your own wellness.
    Job searches and transitions are rife with stress. Not only are you trying to continue to be successful in your current role, but you are actively searching for the next best step for yourself. It can be a struggle to feel calm and centered when your schedule feels chaotic. Try to build activities into your daily routine which can help, whether that is arriving at work a bit earlier to get through emails or spending some time at lunch meditating. If you are at the NIH, there are many resources and activities that focus on wellness. You can see the full listing here.