Most people have heard the terms introvert and extrovert. Just in case you aren’t interested in the social sciences or don’t regularly take personality tests, almost everyone believes that one is “shy” and the other is “outgoing.” Being labeled as an introvert or extrovert ascribes a person with certain social habits or characteristics in the mind of others. An introvert’s peers may think that they are reclusive or socially inept. On the other hand, an extrovert might be labeled as sociable or approachable. However, that isn’t how it works. Let’s look at an introvert to understand what the label means and how to survive as an introvert in public relations.
What’s the deal with these labels? Well, they aren’t there to tell you that you’re awful at conversation. In reality, an introvert is someone who draws their energy from being alone. Highly social environments don’t exactly exhaust an introvert but instead are taxing. An introvert works best when they are alone with their own thoughts. They prefer solitary deliberation over discussion. This seclusion causes other people to speculate that the person is lonely. Again, this isn’t the case. As an introvert, being alone with your own thoughts is not lonely, since the privacy is usually self-induced. Let’s move on to dismantling the notion that introverts just suck at communicating. To make a long story short, they don’t. An introvert can be either great or terrible at communicating because that’s just how people are. Being an introvert doesn’t mean someone communicates worse than an extrovert; they just do it differently.
This leaves us with a question. How can I, an introvert, possibly be able to comfortably work in public relations? It’s a lot easier than you think. Find your style and keep it flexible. News flash, there will be a lot of communicating in public relations. When developing a campaign with peers or clients an introvert would be the type of person to speak sparingly. They would be sitting patiently and absorbing all the information, contributing here and there. An introvert wouldn’t bring their mic-drop-moment until after going back to their desk or even home and processing everything on their own. As an introvert you would most likely speak carefully and less frequently, but with more magnitude.
Believe it or not, you might be better as an introvert at conducting primary research for a client. A blog post from the PR firm LEWIS based in San Francisco says that introverts are great listeners, and I agree. Primary research involves a lot of listening on your part. Imagine a focus group moderated by an introvert! They would be a great non-partisan leader who would not interfere with conversation, instead gathering everything the participants are saying.
There was the pro and now the con: you’re going to have to attend networking events. Trust me, I know it won’t be the most comfortable environment for an introvert. Make it yours. Spin it so that you don’t feel uncomfortable or pressured to talk. The hardest part of networking is diving in, so once you have engaged and forced your way into meeting someone or a group of people, then you’re in the clear. Do what introverts do best: listen and add your thoughts here and there. Just because an introvert doesn’t take charge of a conversation doesn’t mean they can’t network; they just do it in their own ways.
When it comes to introverts and extroverts, one is not better than the other. They are equally respectable in their communicative ways and achieve the same results, albeit differently. An introvert working in a communications field may feel as though they aren’t cut out for the work. In the end, I’m here to tell you that you can do just as well, if not better, than the rest. Public relations can be an intimidating area to work in for anyone. Just remember to work in your own manner that benefits you and others.
Evan Clark is a Sophomore at Grand Valley State University. While majoring in Advertising and Public Relations, Evan is also a member of PRSSA, account associate at GrandPR, and a member of APR Alumni Relations. He looks forward to gaining more experience within the field and networking with peers and professionals. In his free time Evan is an avid Netflix viewer (his favorite show is House of Cards), and he enjoys spending time with friends.