Etiquette Tip of the Week: The Charming Introvert
by Callista Gould, Author and Certified Etiquette Instructor
Do you know people who can turn on the charm like a light switch and have a room full of people eating out of their hands? And at other times, they stand back and quietly observe?
Believe it or not, these are introverts. It’s a mistake to think being introverted and shy are the same thing. Not all introverts are shy.
Let’s take two people at a networking event, one shy and one introverted. Both are lingering on the room’s perimeter, seemingly disengaged from the event. The shy person, may desire to socialize, but lacks the ability to do so. It could be out of fear of rejection or fretting over not finding the right words. The introvert, may have the ability to socialize, but lacks the desire to do so.
Introverts often prefer to keep to themselves. A room full of people exhausts them. Whether dealing with a shy person or an introvert, in any business situation, your job is not to “cure” them or “bring them out of their shell.” The question every introvert hates is, ‘Why are you so quiet?'” said one introvert I know, adding, “I want to say, ‘Why are you so loud?'”
I have read articles that recommend asking shy people open-ended questions. But I can’t imagine a worse strategy than asking people who don’t like talking, open-ended questions that require them to talk more. Shy people may want a friend to cling to, introduce them around and jump start conversations with others. Introverts may not need such assistance but prefer time alone. Don’t mistake reserve for arrogance.
Ask questions. Expect to talk more with a shy person, without overwhelming them with non-stop talk. With an introvert, know when to quit early. Success in networking requires flexibility and meeting people where they are.
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