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Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Ice Breakers for Introverts
It's the new year, nearing the end of the first week of business. How are you feeling about where you're at?
Some are reflecting on what profession they're in. Or where they're at in it. Or whether they're taking action in effective ways that will bring them what they want. What about you?
If you're at all anxious about the actions you're taking, I can relate. I'm an introvert, so that means I will keep to myself to stay within my comfort zone. Yet I will quite often feel anxious because I am limited in my own perspective, experiences and strategy, and because I keep to myself, I don't quickly make changes, even when I want to. I may not know enough to move forward and gosh darn it, I probably won't talk about it. Unless someone like me, who can relate to how I feel and operate, can advise me to effectively create a plan, prepare and practice the actions I need to take.
Let's not get overwhelmed here. For when we introverts are overwhelmed, we slow down, procrastinate or go into that endless spin mode of blank stares. I simply need a plan. Creating a plan requires I know more than I currently do, so I need a good resource. Now, a habit many introverts fall into is doing internet searches to discover whatever information we want. On the one hand, sitting at our desk allows us to feel safe. The bad part about this online search is it isn't motivating. Our motivation for using the information we discover, if it comes from our own efforts, will tend to hold us back. Here's why. Soon we begin to doubt ourselves or doubt the source we discovered. What we need is another form of motivation - another person.
One value of opening up to people, to gaining their insight/experiences/intelligence and then to harnessing their energy, is we can't turn back. We are motivated. Get it? We must have a conversation! Whether you want assistance in creating a plan and implementing it while discovering another profession or for becoming more effective in your current one, this meaningful conversation cannot happen fast enough.
Herein lies the need to use ice breakers - to start a conversation with someone. For the introvert, I suggest starting the conversation with someone you know, because introverts need to gently slide into this. One of the biggest challenges is to plan how to start the conversation - whether over the phone, face to face, through email or through a third party. The easiest approach for an introvert is through email. So start there. Within the email we could state our intent to follow up with a phone call in a certain number of days - which keeps us accountable to following through.
But since email is the easiest starting point, here is a simple approach:
Start with an opener that addresses something recent they can relate to or something you know they've been through lately. "I hope your holidays were good for you/How is the new year looking for you?/I know you've been involved in a major project, how did it go for you?"
Continue by shifting the focus to something recent about you. "I'm giving thought to broadening my career focus/to finding some new strategies for being more effective with my responsibilities and would appreciate time with you for some brainstorming."
Close with a call to action. "I'd like to treat you to coffee/lunch so we could take 30 minutes/an hour to do some brainstorming, and of course to learn about your holidays/new year/project. I will call you in two days to discover your interest in this, or feel free to email me at your convenience before then."
Once we've bounced ideas off a handful of folks and have tweaked them or been inspired by their new ideas, we can begin the plan we need for ourselves.
The hardest part is starting - so break the ice.
Next post will look at breaking the ice with strangers while networking. Yes, even introverts network. Some do it better than others, even feeling good about their efforts once they leave. This starts with having ice breakers to use!
at 10:37 AM