When we think about someone being introverted, the mind always goes to the typical, stereotypical ideation – someone that is particularly shy, keeps to themself and doesn’t offer much in terms of conversation.
Sure, being an introvert has its ups and downs, as do many other personality traits. I’m here to share some of my experiences as an introvert, feeling more comfortable being one, and highlight the positives that come with being an introvert in the creative world.
I can only speak from experience – extroverts, I’m not calling you out! I love you as well, I promise.
1) The Empathetic Listener
When it comes to sitting down and having a conversation with someone, you’re probably someone that listens more than they talk. And, in a creative space, particularly a design role, this can be perfect.
If I’m meeting with a client, I’ll always take notes, listen carefully to what they’re saying and try to dissect all the minute details presented. Clients can sometimes jump from idea to idea, and rather than interject and mess with their flow, I sit back, process, and formulate a plan of action.
Listening is a skill that every great designer should have. You need to understand your client’s needs and objectives and provide solutions that make sense. Not just throw ideas out there, and see what sticks.
Everything needs a purpose. Being a good listener is also being approachable – no one wants to talk to someone disinterested and not engaged.
2) Letting Your Work Do The Talking
Teachers would always harp on about how quiet I was, never did I receive a complaint about my effort and work that I produced. I felt like an underachiever, mediocre to my teachers, and that success was out of reach for me. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
When there’s a constant voice telling you to act against your natural ways, how else would you feel?
I received the same critiques time and time again, and for me, it was never about winning a popularity contest. I just wanted to prove my worth in the work I produced, and that’s something I carry with me today. The difference is, it’s proven and seen to be a valuable asset and not a burden.
Proving your worth through results will and always has been the most valuable asset to clients. You can be an excellent talker, but if you have nothing to back it up, what good is that?
Clients expect and respect results.
3) Introverts Lack Social Skills
Another huge misconception when it comes to introverts, and because of outside pressures and constant reminders of this, you’ve probably played into this feeling of being socially inept.
I know, I’ve been there.
We love our own company, and part of what makes being an introvert and graphic designer so great is that we can work from the comfort of our homes, where we strive.
It can sometimes be so easy to forget that, yes, we all need to be social from time to time to keep the business ticking over. It’s just a fact of life. And, for someone that spends their time mostly being alone, shaking off the conversational rust can be quite daunting unless engaged proactively.
When I first started as a Graphic Designer, I was so used to not needing to communicate with my clients as often as I should have that the idea became quite daunting. Whenever I needed to jump into a call or video call, I would shy away.
Why? Because it was unnatural to me. It wasn’t comfortable, and my brain was convincing me to stay clear of such situations.
As an introvert, and in my personal experience, the longer you shy away from these activities, the harder they become. The less natural they feel, and ultimately, the longer you put off doing them. You cannot allow yourself to be in that situation.
4) Building Close Relationships With Clients
Whenever a client wants to talk to you, you say yes. You schedule a call, and you make sure that you turn up. Do this without question, without thought, regularly, and believe me, the act of doing so will feel so natural, you will look back and wonder what on earth you were thinking.
Fail to do any of this, unfortunately, won’t get you far. Your clients need to know who they’re working with, get to know you, your personality, your passion and you need to be more open to getting to know them too.
Here a few tips on building relationships as an introvert:
- Build trust by being someone approachable.
- If your clients don’t have relevant contact information and ways to reach you in times of need, then that trust won’t be there.
- Most social media apps have the functionality to send voice notes/videos. Take advantage of this, and rather than write out huge paragraphs, send a personable message.
- No matter how deep into your work you get, don’t leave your clients in the dark. Let them know how things are going, keep them updated.
- Don’t schedule a call unless you KNOW you can commit to it. When your reliability is questionable, this is never a great way to start a relationship.
- Don’t leave your clients hanging. If you have the time to respond, then respond as soon as you can. You aren’t 1st Line Technical support, but you can take a couple of minutes out of your day to send a simple message. It goes a long way.
I give these tips because I know personally, these are aspects of my business that I’ve neglected in the past. Not realising that by setting a basis for communication, I’ll drastically improve the level of service I can provide to clients and the impression I’m giving.
Ask yourself, would you be more likely to work with someone who keeps you in the loop or someone that falls off the face of the earth because they don’t have a balance between their work and communications?
I think we both know the answer.
5) Using Your Skills To Inspire
Being a mentor, inspiration to someone in the design field, and inspiring through my work has always been a goal, but something that felt so far fetched.
These are feelings you’ve probably felt too. Why would anyone listen to you? I’m not the loudest voice in the room. How on earth can I be a leader?
Lead through example. Produce the content you love, put the work out there that you are passionate about, and that’s how you will inspire, my friend.
I never had a concrete way of presenting my ideas through words, but my work has inspired others to ask questions and learn from what I’ve created. The amount of aspiring designers that have approached me since I started designing has been truly humbling. A position I never thought I’d be in, being the quietest voice in the room. And that’s the beautiful thing about it all. In a society built around extroverts, you can find ways of communicating your ideas without the need for verbal queues.
Acknowledge what your strengths and weaknesses are first – and do your best to be yourself. Don’t forget that you can be successful, even if you aren’t an extrovert.
- Communicate proactively, don’t allow yourself to become rusty and unwilling to engage.
- Know that it’s possible to be a great communicator despite being introverted. There are many forms of communication. Find what comes naturally to you.
- Take advantage of your listening skills and start providing the right solutions to your client’s problems.
- Be approachable and reachable. Make sure your clients know you’re someone that they can go to for support.
- Don’t play into misconceptions – you aren’t the person people believe you to be.