I am quiet. I have been that way all my life. What does it mean for my communication?
In this blog post, I am sharing my journey with communication and the role of emotional development along the way. I am sharing my experiences, perspective, and a book that has made a strong impression.
I am an engineer and product marketer. I started my career in technology product development. However, as my career evolved, I figured the most fun I have is when I am in front of customers.
I remember traveling with sales team members, explaining product features and integration requirements to prospects. It used to put me in my element; I got encouraging feedback from many friends and colleagues. I love developing and articulating ideas and distilling insights.
I appreciate conversations in smaller groups, where ideas emerge and develop. I enjoy and develop friendships in this way.
I used to loathe going to parties. They were boring. For a very long time, they also used to give me a little anxiety. I enjoy them now; I learned overtime to pick up and enjoy conversations with individuals. Even at parties, most conversations do happen in smaller circles.
I am a toastmaster for 17+ years. I enjoy the creative process of creating a perspective on an idea, a book, a movie, a current event, or an experience. Over the years, it encouraged me or guided me in probing inside the thoughts close to my heart and how I express them. Since I find that creative process so nurturing, I have continued doing toastmasters for so many years.
I enjoy developing ideas with clarity in my mind and then recreating those in my listeners’ and readers’ minds.
One thing in particular that changed me in priceless ways is developing humor when I present. It took me a while; over time, I developed trust in myself to be vulnerable and even have self-deprecating humor. The experience and journey have made me lighter, humbler, more comfortable under my skin, more confident, and happier. The impromptu speaking with table topics at toastmasters has lightened me up, developing my mental muscle to get in the flow of moments more naturally. My neuroplasticity has terrific ways to equip and empower me once I am willing to focus on any emotional skill. Another empowering intangible for me from this is enjoying storytelling. The creative process with the narration – visualizing the storyline, developing zoom-in moments, cultivating a vantage point to see and feel a situation, or a relationship, or an experience, or a challenge – is so much fun and fulfilling.
I enjoy coaching youth in public speaking, communication, and leadership. I have a deep sense of gratitude to be able to engage in something so creative. It is quite a journey working with youth. Teenagers bring and give so much energy, refreshing lightness with all they do, boundless imagination, and fun.
One book along the way impressed me.
Insight from a Book
I think it was about ten or so years ago when I picked up Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. In some parts of the book, it seemed as if she is talking on my behalf. I felt so connected and riveted to the book.
I think the reason is that I am mostly an introvert. Not that I was unaware of being an introvert before reading the book somehow made me feel validated. Somewhere in my teen years and early twenties, and even thirties, I had felt pressure sometimes to go out and make a lot of friends and be a smooth talker. You can be very impressionable in your youth, and my thinking pattern was that something is maybe wrong with me when I don’t do that. It didn’t feel right.
The nugget for me from the book is that being an introvert or an extrovert is dependent on your temperament. It is my brain’s biochemistry or neurology. It is just the way wiring in my brain works, genetically. Some people enjoy creativity in quiet spaces more, and others could get in their element when interacting socially. A person could be anywhere in that continuum between the two extremities of being an introvert or an extrovert. While I tend to identify myself as an introvert, maybe I am on a sliding scale between the two ends.
Being an introvert can be a blessing for creativity, patience, and an innate capability to step back and discern the bigger picture. The quiet space around them can help cultivate empathy and emotional intelligence much faster.
The book connected with and talked to the teenager in me. That Deven felt validated, affirmed, encouraged, inspired by the book. While I have grown and emotionally developed to communicate and lead and speak and all, that connection from the book eventually made me feel at home. How priceless!
If you are an extrovert, that is awesome. If you are an introvert, that is also awesome. That is, so long as you are staying true to your natural temperament. Also, again, you could and probably are be an ambivert – somewhere on that sliding scale between the two extremities. Depending upon the situation and time, your position probably would move on that scale as well. No need to label individuals, or put them “in a bucket”.
While coaching youth, one of my key objectives is to encourage them, anchor them to be comfortable in their natural self. Earlier, you get it in your life, more productive, happier, smoother, and more harmonious it will be. You can stay true to your natural temperament and predisposition and still learn how to communicate, lead, present in front of a group, plan & run events, and develop emotional skills for teamwork. It starts with a constructive dialog with yourself that can validate you, affirm you for your unique perspective to see and interpret all that you experience as an individual – I think especially so, right in the teenage. I wish I had figured this earlier in my life; knowing what I know and read and hear now, I am not the only one in that boat either. It is probably a part of the growing process that everyone goes through. The journey of nurturing that space with youth imbues me with vibrant energy and pure joy; it is giving me so much.
I enjoy being a facilitator, setting the turf with attention to detail, engaging in conversations with others to coordinate, and setting up the plan to organize and run “the show.” The three parts to it – discerning and articulating the overall picture, visualizing and thinking through the flow, and taking care of individuals answering specific questions and concerns – put me in my natural element to communicate and lead.
I enjoy speaking, working with customers, developing and explaining ideas, navigating relationships, embracing ever-evolving group dynamics, making friendships, and coaching youth. Does that mean weather changes as soon as I enter a party? I don’t think so, nor do I care.
I am quiet. I am happy about it. How grateful I am for blessings in my life!
Wah Deven, Absolute honest pen picture.
Beautifully written, so convincing, easy to make out each n every point. On top of that what a great command over the language. Makes me feel proud having a friend like u.
Thank you, Kamlesh.
Another very good and personal post Deven. If more people shared how they truly felt, maybe there won’t be the societal pressure to be extrovert or to be anyone but yourself.
Thank you, Bhasker.
Well penned, Deven!
‘I enjoy being a facilitator – setting the turf with attention to details, engaging in conversations with others to coordinate, and setting up the plan to organize and run “the show.” The three parts to it – discerning and articulating the overall picture, visualizing and thinking through the flow, and taking care of individuals answering specific questions and concerns – put me in my natural element to communicate and lead.’
Yes, I have observed that 👆
Thank you, Jay.
This is what I feel I might say to myself in some years. Thanks for sharing.
Keep writing and inspiring 😃
Thank you, Nishant.
David C DuRee
Much like you I am a bit of an introvert, but you wouldn’t know it by observing me. You hit the nail on the head when you said “It is probably a part of the growing process that everyone goes through”, but have trained yourself to actively seek this improvement as an integral part of your daily life. I too have to actively work at it and have learned to trust my instincts along the way and not let the fear of what others think get in my way. As you noted, the real joy is sharing this realization with others so that they can get out of their own way and experience the fullness of their life. It is the journey in life that is to be celebrated, not the destination.
Hi Dave, indeed, I think you touched on a couple of crucial things in your comment. One, facing your fear, and two, you can get in your way if not aware of the thinking pattern. Thank you.
Your story is honest and told straight from the heart. I could relate to your feelings. I am on the edge of introvert/extrovert. However, as I age, I identify myself as being more introverted. I used to think that meant I am weak. Now I see it as a strength.
Thank for sharing your very personal story.
Thank you, Mona. I also think you move on the sliding scale between the two ends, it isn’t fixed to one point all the time. Susan coins the term ambivert in Quiet. Most of the people are probably ambivert.
I also echo your sentiment of thinking of it as a strength.
I used to think of it as a weakness, too in the past.
I love this post! From as a fellow introvert, I could totally relate and can identify those positive attributes introverts possess. Toastmasters, like you mentioned, has given me the confidence to open myself up and be vulnerable. It has changed my life! The book you mentioned sounds really interesting.
Hi Lisa, there was a time when I used to think to be vulnerable was a sign of weakness. It’s quite a journey from then to now, to think about it as an empowering attribute to connect with others and lead. Thank you for your comment. 🙂
I enjoyed watching this TED talk from Brene Brown on vulnerability
Nice post. Have observed this. Believe in yourself, cultivating your brain, and presenting in confidence.
Thank you, Himanshubhai! 🙂