Monday, February 6, 2012

Being Invisible doesn't get you Noticed!

One of the phrases heard often from Introverts is that they feel invisible in group situations, especially those
with a number of extroverts present!  In a society that tends to recognise and reward extroverted behaviour as the 'better' of the two, is it any wonder that introverts can be left feeling like a poor second cousin?

One of the biggest challenges of course is that if the extroverts are the ones that get 'seen' then they are also the team members that get remembered.  They stand out while the 'invisible' introvert gets left out!  Remember that dreaded feeling of being the last one picked for school gym teams?

With the 'busyness' of today's workplace it is necessary to be seen, heard and remembered if you want to stand a chance at getting those plum roles, the exciting projects, the big promotions.  Otherwise we run the risk of our best stuff going largely unnoticed.

Unfortunately for introverts, many behaviours exhibited by them will often be misinterpreted by others, in particular by the extroverted team members.  This is only a problem if and when that misinterpretation gets in the way of something but... if you don't control your perception you are leaving this possibility to chance, increasing the odds that it's going to come back and bite you in the butt.

The quieter nature of many Introverts will often lead people to believe that they lack confidence.  This may or may not be true, but it will tend to get interpreted that way.  Consistently.  Introverts are, by nature, much more introspective than Extroverts.  The source of most of their energy is internal, while for Extroverts it's externally oriented.  The assumption that many will make is that the quieter Introvert simply didn't have anything to share, thereby discounting their overall value to the meeting or even team.

Introverts instead need to find ways to heighten their visibility.  Not by emulating Extroverts, but in a quieter, more comfortable way.  Try a combination of any of the following tips on for size...

  • Dress just one small step better than your peers.  Maintaining a quiet, but polished and professional image does get noticed and helps you to get noticed in a positive way.
  • Don't underestimate the value of good posture.  Introverts often make the mistake of trying to 'hide' in the crowd and they do so by slumping or slouching, making themselves appear physically smaller.  You might not be the loudest voice around the table but your posture should be strong and erect, communicating your confidence and engagement.
  • Consider the possibility of creating a 'signature' look.  This could be a small element that you integrate into your personal brand statement that just lends a distinctive and unique element into your personal look.  Perhaps you're the only one writing with a fountain pen, you carry a distinctive leather notebook, you are known for your unique jewelry or shoes (I have a client that always has on fabulous shoes!), great glasses.  A small but distinctive statement can also help you stand out and be remembered.  Just ensure that it is in a way that is appropriate for your environment and audience.  Oh, and... no bow ties please!
  • Speak up and share a point early in a meeting.  As the meeting goes on you are going to get bogged down with more and more thoughts, making it more difficult for you to interject those thoughts into the conversation.  Share early, when there are fewer thoughts in your head vying for your attention.
  • If you do have ideas, suggestions or thoughts about a meeting after its done (and you've had time to process), ensure that you jot them down in a succinct, concise email and forward them to the team members.  Don't just forward them to the chair... this minimizes your visibility.  Demonstrate your value by letting others 'see' your contributions.
Try any of the above, or share some of your own below.  The idea is to find ways and means that are 'doable' and comfortable for you that help to move you from being invisible to showing up on the promotional radar!

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