Update on the summer of writing: I’m getting deeper in the research stage, but am still writing snippets as (what I deem) graceful blocks of text come to mind. Here’s hoping it all makes sense at the end 🙂

That said, it is the thoughts and experiences of colleagues and friends that will truly help this project live. A few people have asked me how they can contribute, and I’ve finally figured out the easiest way to do it. Below, there are three big questions. Depending on which temperament you identify with, you can answer as few or as many of the questions as you like. If you’re not sure what you are, but would still like to contribute, please get in touch- I’d still love your thoughts 🙂

If you wish to contribute, I would love to hear your take any or all of the following questions:

(1) Looking back over your time as a professional, or even further back if you’d like, can you think of an incident or situation where “you knew” you were introverted?

(2) What situations at work challenge you the most, due to your temperament?

(3) What strategies have proven helpful for managing the stresses of working in a field that isn’t always built for, or easy for, introverts?

This project isn’t going to live without your thoughts, so I want to hear from you too. I would love to hear your take on the following questions:

(1) Based on your understanding of the concept of introversion (more guidance can be found here), what elements of it confuse you or are hard to understand?

(2) What situations do you suspect introverted professionals would find challenging?

(3) Can you think of any ways that work environments could be made more even for people of different temperaments?

I’ll be accepting responses over the next few weeks via comments to this thread, or you can email me at amma [dot] marfo [at] gmail [dot] com. I’m so excited to emerge from under the books and articles, and help this project live and breathe through your words 🙂 Thanks so much!!

6 thoughts on “Collaborative Authorship, Part III: Three Big Questions

  1. In response to question 3 for introverts, I’d have to say that there haven’t been any actual tried and true strategies I’ve employed, as much as I have just decided to get out of my head and comfort zone. I suppose that’s a strategy in and of itself, but I’ve really just pushed myself beyond self-imposed boundaries I normally would’ve respected, and forced myself to be heard and seen where I used to be content in being neither. Well, not really content, but it’s certainly easier to be in the background than to have the focus on you.
    Last year, I began pursuing an Associate’s Degree in Veterinary Technology, a field in which I am very inexperienced. I have had to ask more questions and be more forward than I ever have been, and it’s been a new challenge all it’s own. There have been smaller moments before this year that have helped to slowly push me out of my shell, so it hasn’t been an about-face simply by being in this program, but I realized early on in the year that I was not going to benefit as much as I could if I just sat back and let things happen around me like I’ve tended to do for so long.
    So, I guess my strategy has been tough love. When a volunteer is needed and I feel myself sliding down in my seat, I give myself a mental kick-in-the-ass and sit up straighter, raise my hand and get myself involved. When I have a question I’m nervous about asking for some reason, I tell myself there’s only one way to get it answered; ask it! And when I need help with something, I’ve realized that the only stupid thing I can do is act like I don’t need help. It’s been a slow process, but I’m actually very proud of how far I’ve come, and my strategy may not work for everyone, but I’ve been pretty happy with it so far.

  2. Rachael, this is great. I love that your story emphasizes pushing through the discomfort. A major point that I want to make as I write is that “faking extroversion” doesn’t lie in doing things like speaking up, being around people, or volunteering; the faking part lies in appearing as though these things are easy. Thank you for helping me make the point that the ease, and not the capability, are the challenge for the naturally introverted. Appreciate you!!

  3. Work situations that cripple and challenge me the most typically involve spontaneous speaking in meetings and networking events. I need time to process information and formulate what I believe to be the best and most appropriate response. In the meantime, I’m sitting in my own fear because I believe that those around me don’t approve of my silence. I’m stewing in my own introversion with a diagnosed case of imposter syndrome in these situations. I often believe that because I find it difficult to speak out in intimidating groups, my worth is diminished significantly. It’s not until I can return, collect my thoughts, process the information that was given, and formulate questions that I can really get to work.

    I enjoy the company of others and prefer not to work alone; however, those relationships have to evolve over time. It is important for me to trust that those close to me aren’t judgmental or humorless. When I know that I present an idea that isn’t fully developed or that I don’t have full confidence in, I will typically make light of it and use a bit of humor in the presentation. I feel that it is easier for others to buy into a light-hearted vocalization of an undeveloped idea, rather than a serious depiction of a flawed theory. So in a way, my introversion might stem from a lack of self-confidence, or self-awareness in my own abilities, as well as an aversion to brainstorming.

    I have specifically become aware of my introversion at conferences and networking events. I’m still green in the professional world, and the thought of striking conversation with those that are more seasoned than I am is bone-chilling. I freeze, lose all of my words, and only have the ability to nod and grab more cheese. My current plan of action is to join the young leaders association in the city and constantly work on networking skills, no matter how much it hurts.

  4. (3) What strategies have proven helpful for managing the stresses of working in a field that isn’t always built for, or easy for, introverts?

    It is interesting that, as an educator, I have to “force myself” to take on extroverted roles. In the classroom, I can push through my introversion through laughter. I try on a daily basis to make my kids laugh; it helps ease some of the stress that extroverts do not have. If I can make the kids laugh, then I find I am not so quiet and I can play around with the kids.

    I also find that my listening skills help ease stress. As an introvert, we casually observe the world around us, take it all in, and then respond if we need to. I really find this to be an excellent trait of introverts and it can help avoid any work drama, no matter what the job field is.

  5. (1) During my 2nd year in graduate school I was involved in organizing my first ever student retreat. My role was mainly logistics; I made sure all the activities were set up, that we were on schedule, and trying to calm myself down about my own two sessions I was facilitating. I found myself sneaking away in between sessions to recharge. It was during the first night after working a long 14 hour day that I accepted I was an introvert. If I wanted a career in Student Affairs I knew I better figure out a way to recharge and be able to bounce back after a long day(s) or week.

    (2) Long back to back days of being “On” with little or no breaks in between challenges me the most. I usally need a day to recover which doesn’t always happen, but I’ve learned to roll with the punches and save my energy for the important parts of the day.

    (3)I’ve learned that I need to speak up for myself during our busy times especially training/opening. When I am at my breaking point and I need a few minutes to myself I usually communicate that to my boss or professional staff. We have a few introverts on our staff, and my boss respects the fact we need time to recharge so she does not require us to attend every session during training which helps a lot. If it’s not during training I have found closing the door or going back to my apartment for a few minutes helpful.

  6. As a teacher, my profession has definitely morphed from a job done mostly in isolation (from coworkers, obviously, not from my students) to more of a collaborative workplace. With the introduction of PLCs (professional learning communities), it has become more and more of an expectation that we plan together. Although I do see the benefit in this, certainly, it does go against my personality type. I’m more of a “close my classroom door and get to work” type of person. Interaction can actually become a distraction for me, as it hinders the natural way I prefer to think and work: on my own. Although I’m completely comfortable with my fourth-grade teammates, I’m never the one to speak out at a large faculty meeting. I simply prefer to sit quietly and absorb the information being presented. And when they want someone to present the material in front of a large group??? Oh, my….Nothing else gives me the “heebie-jeebies” than being in a situation like that! I will always envy those extroverted people who are comfortable speaking in front of a crowd. Oddly, though, I’m completely at ease speaking in front of a group of children. Go figure!

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