Self-Promotion for Introverts

Career advancement tips, quips, and insights for the quieter crowd

Shushing Your Inner Bully: A Quick Trick

For a boost and some ballast, look in your wallet.

I frequently encounter highly accomplished people who don’t think of themselves that way. In fact, many clients of mine and participants in my Self-Promotion for Introverts® workshops say they spend more time thinking of their latest misstep—despite their robust résumés. Can you relate?

While many introverts—those of us who are more often energized during our quiet time than our social time—make significant contributions to our organizations and society, a bully that lurks between our ears sometimes get the best of us. Of course, introverts don't have the market cornered on negative self-talk; however, research has shown that we probably chatter more inside our heads. So what can we do about it? Here's a quick trick you can use, excerpted from my book, Self-Promotion for Introverts®: The Quiet Guide to Getting Ahead.

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"I can catch any ball"
One of my clients, a senior corporate training manager—let’s call him Clark Connolly—found a way to stay attuned to his gifts, despite the background “noise.” He shares a recurring negative self-talk message that plays in his head when he speaks to someone more senior: “I’m not in the same league.”

To counter that, I ask Connolly to describe a situation in which he performs at his best. A fine and confident athlete, he pictures himself in the outfield and says, “I can catch any ball.” Connolly repeats this affirmation to himself whenever he faces a particularly challenging situation; in fact, it’s become his mantra. Here’s what he wrote on a little card he had laminated and put in his wallet.

Clark Connolly’s negative self-talk antidote wallet card

  • Preparation. Anticipate.
  • Breathing. Ten deep breaths.
  • Affirmation. “I can catch any ball.”
  • Physical attributes. Feet planted; head high; shoulders back.
  • Voice. Modulate; lower pitch; raise volume; ask questions; show interest.

Connolly refers to this wallet card to help get himself grounded before important meetings. What can you write on a little card to recharge yourself with positive thoughts so you'll perform at your best?

I find that managing my negative self-talk requires daily maintenance, especially when I’m under a lot of stress. During those times, I attempt to be more conscious of the messages I say to myself. I counter the noise by reinforcing what I’m good at, putting myself in positive situations, and surrounding myself with people who believe in me. Find what works best for you. If you're an introvert, remember to catch your breath between social encounters—rest up, prepare, and, when applicable, practice.

For more about quieting—or at least managing—your inner bully, check out my story, "An Introverts's Inner Critic." Also don't miss "I Coulda Been a Contender," by Abby Ellin in Psychology Today.

REFERENCE:
Adapted from Nancy Ancowitz, Self-Promotion for Introverts®: The Quiet Guide to Getting Ahead, McGraw-Hill, 2009, pp. 21-22.

Nancy Ancowitz is a business communication coach, an adjunct instructor at NYU, and the author of Self-Promotion for Introverts (McGraw-Hill).

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