Monday, October 21

Bactine for Introverted Writers - Do's and Dont's


UPDATE: Had to change my comment settings again to stop spammers. Sorry! Right now, you have to have a Google account.


Introverts struggle in many public situations, especially those with crowds of strangers. We can usually fake it till we make it, and can also do a decent job of being social when the circumstances require it, but it takes a toll on us. In the moment, it can take a lot out of us to gain the courage to break out of our shells, even if no one else sees it.


My Story:

After an awkward exchange with three authors with personalities much bigger than my own, I had told them that I’m an introvert. The most vocal author, who practically glowed with extrovertism, gave another author a look that said, “Ha! Do you believe that?”

I noticed this exchange, which only overwhelmed me even more. At that instant, I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to be at that table. I wanted to be home, in my comfort zone, my safe place, far away from looks like that.

Instead, I wheeled in a bit more courage and didn’t allow myself to let that look go without addressing it, something I would’ve done when I was younger. I looked both of the authors in their eyes, letting them know I noticed their exchange, and said, “I fake it very well.” I didn’t owe them an explanation, though.

I had several awkward moments with this vocal author during an event the four of us were a part of together. For instance, for my first intro to readers, I shared my author tagline; I was the only one to do so. The next time around, though, the vocal author shared her author tagline, which sounded very similar to mine. In the moment, I couldn’t help but think she did it on purpose (because she went before me). There were a couple more awkward moments that I tried to play off with laughter and jokes aimed at myself, but it did not help how I felt.

This other author and myself just did not mesh well in this situation, which is funny because the two of us were the first ones at our table and we talked and got along fine. Then things changed when the other two authors joined us.

So…

How do you handle situations where your introvertism is butting up against someone else’s extrovertism?


DO:

1. Take a Deep Breath

Counting to three while inhaling and three while exhaling can calm our thoughts and help us to maintain our composure.

2. Smile

You know that saying, “Kill ‘em with kindness”? Well, being the bigger person really does work. So, smile like you mean it. Not only are you using your kindness to combat the awkward situation, but you’re also faking it till you make it, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

3. Play it Off

No matter how annoyed or overwhelmed you get, or how awkward things feel to you, play it off. I know I felt uncomfortable with this other author, but I used lighthearted jokes, even at my own expense, to get myself through those instances. And the readers had no clue, either.

4. Give the Other Person the Benefit of the Doubt

The extrovert may not know how they’re affecting you and may not be doing anything wrong in their eyes. Realize that this is how the person is in life and to everyone. Once you can accept that, you’ll be able to handle any situation with this person.

5. Give Yourself a Break

You may not be the only person in that situation whose introvertism is butting up against this person’s extrovertism. Others could be feeling the same way. More than anything, you’re doing great as an introvert, getting out there and doing what you need to do. No matter how you feel with someone you don’t mesh well with, give yourself a break. Pat yourself on the back for leaving your safe place.


DON’T:

1. Ignore the Extrovert

Ignoring someone will only make you seem cold, childish, or worse yet…rude. You don’t want people to think you’re any of those things. It’s better to acknowledge the other person by smiling (Do #2) or by playing it off (Do #3).

2. Show Your Feathers are Ruffled

The moment you show aggravation, you get painted as “the problem.” It’s better to take that deep breath (Do #1) and do something else that can allow you to discreetly pull yourself together and try not to show how fed up you may be.

When I needed to hide my annoyance, I signed all of my printed swag that I’d be handing out to the readers and pretended to not know what was going on around me.

Take a moment for yourself, too. Even if you have to politely excuse yourself to use the restroom. Do it! You’ll be all the better after a calm minute to yourself.

3. Snap

Saying something rude or snippety will only taint your image in the eyes of everyone else around, and whomever the recipient of your words tells. Instead, try one or all of the tactics mentioned above (breathe, seek a solitary minute, smile, play it off.)

4. Complain

While at a social event, you may have the urge to complain about that person to someone else, but I warn you not to do that. You never know who is friends with that person, and the last thing you want is for your complaints to get back to that person, who may not have intended what happened or could view it in a different way. Once again, this will turn you into “the problem,” and you could be dealing with consequences bigger than your own feelings.

5. Check Out

When we get overwhelmed, we can withdraw into ourselves. Don’t sit there with your arms crossed pouting, stewing in your anger, or on the verge of tears. Rather, interact with others around you. Anyone. This will show your good side to everyone else.

At the end of this interaction with a strong extrovert, or any social situation, your energy will be depleted. That’s the thing with being an introvert; these things can really take it out of us. We need time (this could be days) to replenish what we spent, so take as much time as you need. And for putting yourself out there and surviving that strong extrovert, I say, “Proud of you, Introvert, proud of you!


QUESTIONS: Are you an introvert? Have you ever had an awkward face-to-face exchange with someone more extroverted than yourself? How did you feel in that moment and how did you handle it?




40 comments:

  1. Definitely an introvert.
    Easiest to just smile. And ask questions. I find if I just ask questions and let the other person ramble, I never have to worry about talking.

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  2. Great post, Chrys. Yes for me on being an introvert. When I feel overwhelmed in a social situation, I try to just find a moment to myself, take a deep breath, maybe get some fresh air. Even just going into a less crowded room can help.

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    1. A moment to take a breath by yourself is always relaxing.

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  3. Another introvert. I fake it very well—I even got elected to the school board, not a very introverty thing to do. I’ve never had a situation quite like yours, but I did learn that at conferences and events, I needed to give myself permission to go somewhere quiet and read, or leave early, or go for a walk (used to be a run, which was much better but I can’t do that anymore). Being stuck on a panel with someone who is bullying you (and yes, I think that person was a bully, not just an extrovert) is tough (okay, actually I did that twice a month for 8.5 years, as one of my fellow board members was a bully). I didn’t always hide my feelings well :)

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  4. i believe by faking it, those uncomfortable moments will become easier because you have a plan in place. all your suggestions sound wonderful and it doesn't pay to confront a bully head on. funny how group dynamics change with the addition or subtraction of individuals
    sherry @ fundinmental

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  5. I'm a big introvert, but I've been lucky in so far most extroverts I met have done well in coaxing me out of my shell and helping me have a good time in situations where I'd normally feel intimidated.

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  6. Some people are jerks. The other writer sounds like a jerk.

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  7. Sounded like little more than extrovert vs introvert to me, but outright rudeness and undermining, because the author felt threatened by something she saw in you even though she liked you. I agree that was passive-aggressive jerk behavior---Just because it is passive-aggressive makes it no less rude, wrong, and ugly. What you did took courage and stoicism. Yeah You!

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    1. I felt that, too, but decided it might've been just me...but still...the feelings were there.

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  8. I'm definitely an introvert. But I guess I can take a deep breath and pretend if I need to do book events. Thanks for the tips.

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  9. Great advice! I'm definitely an introvert. I think I can fake it in most situations but if someone was bullying me I'd probably just shut down.

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    1. I shut down a lot, too. I'm trying not to do that, though. It's tough.

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  10. Giving people the benefit of the doubt is great advice. If there is an explanation that isn't offensive, I will assume that until told otherwise. Years ago, I was talking to someone about one thing, they thought I was talking about another and I ended up being the rude one. He was talking about a friend's restaurant; I was talking about the one that had been in the same spot and had closed. Fortunately, my husband pointed out we were on two different pages and I got the opportunity to apologize. As an introvert, we are sometimes so worried about what we should be saying that we don't always hear so well.

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    1. That is true. There were definitely awkward moments between me and this other author, though. Not just because one of us wasn't hearing so well.

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  11. Lots of practical Bactine tips for the sting of another’s insecurity here, Lady Chrys! After worrying that my palm would be too sweaty to shake the hand of a favorite author - only to hear him ask “I don’t suppose you’ve written anything?” I tend to avoid the possibility of a repeat assault. Evidently, some writers are just mean. Ha!

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    1. That's a rather mean question to ask someone. If he was being nice, he could've asked it in a much different way.

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  12. Thanks for the "Do's and Dont's" Chrys. will keep them in mind.

    Yvonne.

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  13. Great post... I am definitely an introvert.

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  14. I've had encounters with people who like to argue, and since I don't like to argue, I'm always the problem. Changing the subject and smiling isn't an option when people just want to argue and you don't. Not sure if that's an extrovert/intervert thing. Outside of that, you explain it quite well. It's tough, but doable, being an introvert in a extrovert world.

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    1. It is tough, but doable. You said it perfectly.

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  15. There's always one author/person who is headstrong and likes to be the center of it all. That person usually does run up against me since I am also headstrong. (I'm lucky - I am an outgoing introvert. LOL) But keeping one's tongue in check is a good idea.

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    1. This author was definitely the headstrong one. Even when we were taking our group pictures she was loud and talking when we were all still and smiling.

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  16. Thanks for the advice. I am an introvert. When I'm at a meeting or other activity, I mostly listen to what's going on. I learn a lot that way. I'm more outgoing around children. Guess it's because I taught for many years and young ones don't intimidate me. Will think about your points.

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    1. I am more out going around children, too. I'm still a child at heart, myself. :)

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  17. I'm so sorry you went through that but I love, love, love how you handled it. Rising above was perfect. It's so tempting to meet someone on their level but I feel like it brings us down emotionally and ends up making us feel worse. So much great advice here, Chrys. Thank you.

    Elsie

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  18. Good advice, Chrys. I've had many such encounters. Technically, I'm not an introvert, but according to Myers-Briggs, I'm just barely extroverted. So I can draw from both sides.

    www.thepulpitandthepen.com

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  19. I'm so sorry that you were in this difficult situation. I've been there and I remember wishing the ground would just open up and swallow me whole so I could get out of it. It doesn't have to be that way, either. I just went on a job interview yesterday. The manager who was doing the interview was obviously an extrovert, but he was so kind and welcoming that I actually bubbled with enthusiasm, as well. I think the people that are rude, such as this author you encountered, are typically insecure. Your advice is good advice. Keep smiling!

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    1. That's wonderful that the manager was so amazing and his personality helped to open you up. :)

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