If 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)
- I think I have enough results to present at the ASM meeting in September in Arizona.
- I think this would really help me move ahead toward my goal of working in academia.
- 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:
- Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
- Susan Cain’s blog on executive presence for Introverts