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8 Strategies For Introverts To Excel In The Workplace

I had to learn how to crawl out of my shell and speak up, here's how.

Workin' Girl

At 22, I received my first managerial position and struggled within the first few months.

I literally would get anxiety when I had to use my voice to speak with my team or when I was responsible for leading strategy meetings with internal and external partners.

If I had it my way back then, I would've definitely preferred to do all of my work from the comfort of my laptop instead of verbally and physically engaging with other people. I know it may sound crazy, but I used to be the introvert of all introverts. Over time, I had to learn how to crawl out of my shell and speak up because by not doing so, it wasn't serving my team or clients, and it definitely wasn't helping me in my career.

If the 22-year-old version of me is speaking to your ministry and you need some real tips on how to speak up at work so that your skills and value aren't ignored, keep reading.

Know that being a boss is in your DNA.

People often assume that extroverts make better leaders because they are more talkative and visibly energetic, but research shows that introverts are actually more effective leaders when placed in difficult and unexpected situations. So if you're an introvert, own that shit. You were born to lead.

Don’t sleep on your alone time.

As an introvert, you thrive when you're able to work alone. This not only makes you happy, but if you're like me, it gives you energy because there are no distractions or people to throw your vibes off. If you're getting ready to enter a meeting or a networking event with your team, make sure that you take advantage of your alone time so that you can recharge. When you're energized and have had time to take care of you, you're more likely to better engage with others.

Always be prepared.

Oftentimes in team meetings, if you're an introvert, you may opt-in for quietly taking notes instead of engaging in the conversation. If so, try getting the meeting agenda ahead of time and practicing what you want to contribute prior to the meeting. By being aware of what's going to be discussed and practicing what you're going to say, it'll make you more confident once the time to speak is here.

Take advantage of 1:1s.

As an introvert, you're probably more comfortable with speaking one-on-one with a colleague instead of talking with groups of people. If so, use this to your advantage to network within the company and share your expertise. For most managers, it's mandatory that they have one-on-ones with their employees, so use these opportunities to get to know your boss better, ask for tips on your professional growth, and of course, talk about the value that you've brought to the team. Like always, prepare what you're going to say ahead of time (write it down if needed) and you'll be on your way to making your next one-on-one meeting worthwhile.

Speak like the queen you are.

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How you speak about yourself and whatever else you're talking about will showcase your confidence. It's important that when you communicate, you remove vocabulary that hints at self-doubt or uncertainty. When you talk, intentionally practice speaking affirmatively and with authority. Limit phrases and words like "I think," "probably", and "maybe", and try to remove filler words like "ummm".

The more you speak with authority, the more confidence will exude from you.

Watch your body language.

The way that you carry yourself sends an incredibly strong message about who you are and your confidence. When you're at work, be mindful of the way you stand or even sit at your desk. Hold your chin up, your back straight, and don't be scared to look at your team members in the eye when talking. I know from experience that it'll be awkward AF in the beginning, but if you do this regularly, you'll begin to feel relaxed and comfortable in your own skin.

Be unapologetic when you boss up.


I recently heard someone say, "If I don't root for me, who will?" People often miss out on opportunities because they're uncomfortable with tooting their own horn. Always remember queen, promoting yourself and sharing your wins isn't bragging. If you don't share what you do and your accomplishments, how will someone know that you're the best person for "X" opportunity? Find and/or create opportunities where you can update your boss and coworkers about your wins and your contribution to projects that have gone well. A few ways you can do this is by sharing it in a one-on-one, updating it on your LinkedIn profile, or self-nominating yourself for an award at work if the opportunity presents itself.

Get comfortable with reclaiming your time.

Because you're an introvert, people will probably cut you off when talking at a meeting. When that happens, don't fret, take it like a boss. Regain your chill and control of the conversation by throwing up the church finger and politely reclaim your time by saying, "Great feedback [insert name here]. I actually had a couple more thoughts to share with you on that." From there, finish speaking and then take control of the conversation by asking for feedback on what you just shared.

As you enter your workplace and start implementing these tips, keep in mind that you're doing both you and your company a disservice by not speaking up at work and being vocal about your value and expertise. You're a boss woman in your own unique way so never let being an introvert keep you from getting the opportunities that were created for you.

Featured image by Shutterstock.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

How To Tap Into Your Inner Confidence As An Introvert

The Introverted Girl's Guide To Office Networking

What Exactly Is An Ambivert? How Can You Tell If You Are One?

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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