- The key to communication success for introverts is to leverage qualities of introversion rather than "act like an extrovert."
- Quiet and cool environments allow for more thoughtful thinking, which helps introverts in interactions.
- Taking a bathroom break or asking for time to think can allow introverts the space to gather their thoughts and refresh.
“There's zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.”
― Susan Cain, author of Quiet
Are you an introvert looking to strengthen your communication skills? When Susan Cain interviewed me in preparation for her future best-selling book, she had previously participated in one of my Communication Success workshops designed primarily for introverts. Since then, I’ve had the privilege of helping thousands of introverts significantly improve their personal and professional communication skills through hundreds of workshops and individual consultations.
The key to communication success for introverts is not to act like an extrovert, but to leverage the qualities of introversion with empowering communication skills, so you can achieve the best impact with minimum stress.
Below are tips to confident one-on-one communication in personal and/or professional scenarios, excerpted from my books, Relationship Communication Success for Introverts and Workplace Communication Success for Introverts. You may already be familiar with some of the skills below, and not all of the ideas may apply to you or your particular situation. Simply utilize what’s beneficial and leave the rest.
Five Quick Tips to Confident One-On-One Communication
1. Select a Suitable Physical Environment to Save Energy
Whenever possible, arrange for communication to take place at locales that are relatively quiet. Noisy environments tend to force both you and your conversation partner to speak louder, and may hamper you from thoughtful, reflective discussions. Since color and temperature affect emotions, avoid settings that are brightly lit or painted, which excite the senses and encourage revelry. Also, avoid environments that are uncomfortably warm, which may stir emotions but debilitate thinking (1)(2)(3)(4).
2. Easy Ways to Begin and Maintain One-On-One Communication
“Show interest in others, and others will show interest in you.” ―Dale Carnegie
The two keys to being at-ease in one-on-one communication are to show interest in others, and ask questions about what they’re interested in. At the start of the conversation, ask open-ended questions about them. If you would like to keep a conversation going, simply select a piece of information your communication partner shared with you, and ask for more elaboration. Asking questions during a conversation is an easy way for introverts to participate actively without having to be too talkative. It has the multiple benefits of saving speech and energy, maintaining engagement, and being attentive to your partner.
3. Easy Ways to Buy Time and Organize Your Thoughts
During the communication, there may be times when you want to be more thoughtful and concise with what you’re about to say, but aren’t ready to speak right away. In these situations, you can “buy time” by letting the other person know that you need a moment to think. Say, for example:
“Give me a second, I want to be very clear with what I’m about to say…”
“Let me have a moment to think this through…”
In our extrovert-oriented society, it isn’t always socially permissible to have a period of silence for thinking in the middle of a conversation. However, by introducing a preface which announces that you need a moment to think, you acquire the social permission to organize your thoughts.
4. Build Breaks Into Lengthy Communication
If the communication gets prolonged and you need to take a break, simply say that you wish to use the restroom, or get a drink of water, or retrieve something from your office or car, and will be right back. During your break, take a moment to surround yourself with solitude. Take nice, long breaths. If you use the restroom, put some cold water on your face, or in front and behind your neck to refresh.
5. How to Diplomatically Exit
When you’re ready to finish the one-on-one communication, give your partner a heads up that after your next comment or questions you’ll need to go do something else. Psychologically prepare the other person for a conclusion for an easier and graceful exit.
© 2014 by Preston C. Ni
(1) Margaret P. Calkins. Using Color as a Therapeutic Tool (2010).
(2) Itten, J. The Art of Color: The Subjective Experience and Objective Rationale of Color (1997).
(3) Reeves, V. Color and its effect on behavior modification in correctional detention facilities. Research and Design (1985).
(4) Marazziti, Donatella, Angela Di Muro, and Paolo Castrogiovanni. Psychological stress and body temperature changes in humans. Physiology & Behavior (1992).