Introvert Solopreneurs Q&A: “I hate adding to the noise in the market. What should I do?”

I’ve been preoccupied lately with trying to help where I can in this crazy time, including hosting some free gatherings for caring solopreneurs.

It has felt so good to do that, and it inspires me for what else I can offer.

This morning I decided to record a Zoom conversation with a fellow introverted solopreneur about this question I am hearing a lot lately from folks like us. I’ve got the video recording for you below.

The question I’m hearing goes something like this:

The market feels so full of noise and free offers. I hate the idea of adding to the noise and it seems like nothing will work right now….”

It’s a crazy time for sure. So many unknowns and worries. Those big hearts of ours can’t help but want to keep helping, but it’s confusing too.

There is a way to navigate in these strange waters, even while steadying ourselves.

With the help of my friend and colleague, Liesel Teversham, I addressed this concern, including what’s helping me, and what I think will help our kindred spirits too.

You can watch the conversation here:

Continue reading

Managing the Whirlwind of Feelings in a Whirlwind World

Dear Val: “Sometimes feeling all this stuff in the world and in my own life, and the people around me can feel like too much. All these feelings moving through me…. Sometimes I want to hide under the covers. But I also care. I’m not sure how to find the right balance sometimes.” ~ A highly sensitive introverted woman.

I’ve heard many versions of this same concern. As a sensitive introvert myself, I get it. I have now designed a life that doesn’t usually overwhelm me, even with all the feelings inside and around me, and that is so different from in the past. It still happens that I feel overwhelmed at times, I mean, this life, yowza! Whoa. But I can see that my choices and some daily habits are making it so much easier. #Grateful

If you’re like me and well, like all humans, you’re feeling a big range of things— from gratitude and love, to confusion or loss— all in this one moment. Seems strange but that’s life I think. And yet…

What if it feels like too much?
AND it’s also worth asking:
What if it opens you up to something wonderful?

I’ll share how I think of it.  Continue reading

Introverts Often Hate Meetings. Here’s Why and What To Do.

Oh my, if you ask introverts one of their biggest dislikes, it’s meetings. And yet, if we stop going to meetings, we risk losing the chance to have a say in the things that effect our lives. Plus we have valuable ideas to add. It matters to the groups we’re part of, and to the greater good.

So… then what if we hate meetings?

I’ve discovered over time the problem is that most meetings are poorly led and that makes it a problem for everyone. It’s just that it’s mainly the introverts who notice the problem because meetings work poorly especially for us.

I ended up explaining my thoughts about meetings and how it can be easier for introverts, and for the good of all, in this advice column.

Meeting hell for introverts


Dear Val,

How do I survive the “theater of meetings”? As an introvert, I don’t feel comfortable with the real-time verbal sparring and arguments.

I don’t have the snappy comeback, the rhetorical parlor trick that sways the boss or wins people to my side. My head gets so full of various ideas that I’m just not ready to pull it together in a neat package of words. And by the time I might be ready to share something, the conversation has moved on.

Because of all this, I don’t like meetings, and it shows. People can probably sense my discomfort. So what should I do about meetings when I am so uncomfortable?

–Miffed about Meetings

Dear Miffed,

I’m so glad you wrote about your struggle with meetings because just about every introvert I know has described a similar problem. After networking angst, it’s probably the top concern I hear. So we need to talk about it!

 

I’ll explain and provide for some meeting survival tips for introverts.
Continue reading

How Introverts Can Have More Ease in Online Discussions

Introverts want to have a say in things, at work and in the world. Even if we seem to stay quiet sometimes.

Communicating online, such as social media, can be one of the easier ways for us to share our opinions. But it can also be hard for a lot of introverts. I want to make it easier for you because I know your voice matters!!

In fact, introverts have superpowers for online discussions! (And other kinds of communication too.) And there are some simple ways to make it easier.

I explained this in an advice column answer:

Dear Val,

I’m an introvert who has been working on my presentation and communication skills the last few months. I’m now comfortable talking with people in small group meetings, and I’m getting better at presenting to larger audiences, but I’m still struggling in one area.

When the conversation moves from in-person to online discussions, I have a hard time participating.

I find that I’m more hesitant to post or share anything online. I don’t like that I can’t see my audience. I don’t really know who or how many people have seen my post, and it’s harder to get a sense as to how my words were received.

In-person discussions are much more comfortable for me, but my peers (personal and professional) seem to be using online discussion spaces more and more. I don’t want to miss out on discussions that are important to me. Plus, I know it will be increasingly important for my career.

I’m in my 20s, and I’m in a technology field, so there’s pressure to be good with the online world. I’m comfortable with technology—just not online discussions.

How might I become more comfortable participating in online discussions with my peers?

– Cautious in California

woman under stress online


Dear Cautious,

Congratulations on the progress you’ve made with presentations and speaking in meetings! That’s great news that you’re finding your voice in those arenas.

That success tells me you are closer than you think to facing this next frontier—communicating with your audience when you can’t see it. That’s a challenging situation for most introverts.

I’ll explain our introvert challenges and strengths for online discussions, along with some tips to make it easier.

Continue reading

How Do I Cope with Conflict and Speaking Up at Meetings?

Ack, conflict. Tough for most of us. And at work with all that pressure? Or in an activist group where you care so much but then we can’t get along?

I got a great question about conflict for my advice column for introverts, so I’ll share it here as a way to help us face this one:

Dear Val,

I sat through a meeting this week during which a client and my boss had a very strongly worded, aggressive disagreement. The client wasn’t raising his voice, but his words, tone, and body language were very combative, and my boss was trying to defend our position against his.

I have a hard time with this type of conflict: that type of aggressive tone makes me really jittery and produces an adrenaline-fueled “flight” reaction. I spent a lot of the meeting hoping it wasn’t obvious how much I was shaking.

I also avoid interrupting others in a conversation, so fast-paced arguments make it extra hard for me to know what to do. My instinct is to avoid getting involved and to not draw more attention/ire toward myself.

In situations like these, I often feel that if I open my mouth, I might start crying, which I know is read as extremely unprofessional and is something I particularly would want to avoid when I am already being dismissed as young, inexperienced, and insufficiently skilled at my job.

However, sometimes I know there is information that I have or perspectives I can bring that would help with the disagreement if I could only figure out how to insert myself into the conversation.

What strategies can I as an introvert use when I need to jump into a contentious/agitated situation in a professional setting?

~Jittery in Massachusetts

fear

Dear Jittery,

Oh, my—I could practically feel the jitters with you while I was reading your letter. I’d love to help.

Conflict can kick up our self-preservation instincts such as fight, flight, or freeze. It’s particularly tough in a work situation where we can’t easily run away, and we have our professional reputation at stake. This is a big challenge for anyone.

I’m offering some suggestions here. Be gentle with yourself as you consider trying something new. It will be worth the effort as you notice anxiety going down, over time.

Continue reading