Don’t Be Annoying – Be Inspiring

In Kingston, getting kindness out of my account, for a new day - Nancy, age 9 - Haiku Hopes
Sophia Dembling (author of the book The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World) caused quite a stir with an article she wrote recently: “Five Ways Introverts Can Be Annoying“.

Apparently some introverts were quite annoyed by her comments. I actually found her article amusing!

I’m 100% with her, when it comes to the whole “introverts are much better than extroverts” mania that seems to have hit the internet lately. We are NOT “better” than extroverts. We’re just different – and we want to be understood and appreciated for who we are, just as much as extroverts do.

But in order to be understood, as Stephen Covey would say, we must “seek first to understand”. And, unless you’re planning to live in a cave (although I admit it is rather tempting at times), that includes understanding how extroverts work differently from us, as well as understanding our own needs.

You might well want to spend the weekend sitting in a darkened room, reading a book – far away from everyone – after a long week of “playing” the extrovert. And I wouldn’t blame you. But if your “other half” is more of an extrovert than you, then s/he might have other ideas. And if you don’t let each other know how you feel and what you need, then it’s a recipe for disaster.

The same goes for your clients. You have to manage their expectations, if you want to build a healthy relationship. And that includes finding out how they want to work with you, explaining to them how you work best – and then finding some middle ground that will keep your client happy and won’t kill you!

I have to admit, this is something I’ve been really bad at in the past. I didn’t have a problem with it when I was an employee – I simply said it like it is! But since I’ve been self-employed, I’ve been more inclined to bend over backwards to satisfy my clients’ requirements – and I’ve ended up resenting it. And sulking. Which is another way in which introverts can be annoying!!

So then I went to the opposite extreme. Rather than being on-call “all the time”, I withdrew personal contact from my clients all together, and would only connect with them on Facebook or other forums, so that I could more easily manage my time and my energy levels.

But, as Nick Williams said in an Inspired Entrepreneurs Community event recently: people want your energy (to which my response was: don’t they just!!). And as introverts, it’s up to us to find a way to share our energy with the people who really matter, rather than squandering it on those who don’t.

That might sound a bit harsh – but the fact is that our energy is the most valuable thing we have, as introverts, and we need to conserve it for the occasions when it will serve the greatest purpose.

When you are on purpose, you can inspire others to do great things – without needing to be loud or bold. That is a good use of your energy, and that’s what you need to focus your energy on.

That’s what I’m doing with The Quiet Entrepreneur.


Who do YOU want to inspire, how and why do you want to inspire them, and what do you want to inspire them to do?
Let me know in the comments below

8 comments… add one

  • Excellent point Julia! Both introverts and extroverts have their own strengths – and weaknesses. I thought the article was funny too, but I can also see why it may have rubbed people up the wrong way. Some of those points are perhaps more common in introverts, but I do believe you can be an introvert and learn to communicate properly, be genuinely interested in others and be enthusiastic – as long as we take our alone time of course ;)
    Esther Lemmens recently posted..Zest for DesignMy Profile

  • Julia Barnickle

    Thanks Esther. Yes, although it can be challenging for us to be sociable, we have so much to offer that it seems criminal not to connect and share our talents with the world. As you say, though, we need to make sure we factor in enough alone time!

  • Great post, Julia! I agree that the ‘introverts are best’ attitude can be annoying but I do think it comes from years of being told that there’s something wrong with being an introvert. I’m not sure I agree with all of Dembling’s points, like that we should fake enthusiasm. I don’t think pretending to be something we’re not is ever the answer. I think, like you say, it’s best to try and find some middle ground. Anyway, I’m glad you posted this article because you’ve given me more inspiration for my next post! Thank you!

  • Julia Barnickle

    Thanks for your comments Louise. I’m glad the article has given you some inspiration for your next post – I look forward to reading it!

  • I agree with this post on so many levels Julia. Being Authentic and being mindful can coexist.

  • Julia Barnickle

    Definitely, Catherine – being mindful of other people’s needs doesn’t mean that you have to forgo your own authenticity.

  • Great post, Julia!

    One of my core messages around energy management with my introverted clients is that it’s not about trying to spend as little energy as possible – it’s about spending energy on the the things that really matter to you!

    I often compare the way we manage our energy to the way we manage our money. If you tried to save all your money and never spent it on anything, you might have a nice bank balance, but you’d have a very poor life. If, however, you figure out what’s important to you, and then invest in those things, you get to make the most out of whatever money you have, and enjoy what you get in return for it.

    I see energy in a similar way: it’s a limited resource that we can exchange for the things we care about in life. So the answer isn’t to hoard it, but instead to spend it wisely.

    (at least, that’s the way I think of it anyway!)
    Tanja @ Conscious Introvert Success recently posted..Want a peek inside the What the Hell do I Write? coverMy Profile

  • Thanks Tanja! I think that’s a great way of looking at energy – it makes so much sense. Like with money, it’s all too easy to fritter away our energy on non-essential and non-uplifting activities, without realising it – so it’s a good idea to become mindful of how we spend our energy (and money!)

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