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.
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.