Introvert vs Extrovert

At a party this weekend, I found myself witnessing an Introvert and an Extrovert in a conversation. Introvert was waiting for her opportunity to speak. She was very polite and patient. She was waiting for that pause that’s long enough to denote that Extrovert has finished her point.

But Extrovert doesn’t pause! She went blah blah blah the whole time. Any silence in the conversation that’s longer than 1/2 a second seems to her that no one wants to speak, and then she just starts speaking again. Extrovert’s thinking time, patience and pauses are much shorter, and any silences longer than 1/2 a second is deemed to be awkward, while Introvert is much more comfortable with silence so only when you stop speaking for 3 seconds, she thinks it’s her turn to jump in.

Then at the end of it we all wanted to grab food when Introvert said to me, ‘Hum. I need to catch you later, I’m making a mental note about all the things you said: about coffee, art, culture..’ That hit me – she’s paying attention the whole time and waiting for her chance!

What does this mean?

For extroverts: Try pausing for 5 seconds after sharing your idea and force yourself to live with the silence even when you’re not comfortable with it! Ask the other people questions to invite them to share their ideas!

For introverts: recognise that you don’t need to wait till the other person stops talking before you talk, otherwise you will never be able to talk!

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How to impress in interviews II – how do I know what’s my unique selling points?

Got to work with a pilot this week! Excited! He came through to me for interview coaching. *It’s funny how I saw him completely differently when I found out he was a captain! A captain!*

‘Why should I hire you?’

‘I have the professional certificate, the medical certificate, the experience, the papers.’

*Again.. general answers..!*

‘What do you think you’ve got that others don’t? I mean, there are so many pilots out there who got pass the first round!’

‘I’m motivated, passionate, dedicated. I’m responsible.’

Ok.. not quite satisfied with the lame generalities.. I asked, ‘imagine you were the company hiring managers. What do you see in this guy that gets your attention over the other ones?’

‘Well.. actually this is one of the questions I found hard to answer.’

‘Ok. Let’s try a different one. What have your boss and colleagues said about you?’

‘Hum.. they said I’m ahead of the game. That I’m well prepared. That I got the weather report before the captain even thought of it.’

‘Right. So you have foresight.’

‘Yea and I’m quiet.’

Er.. Ok… how is that a strength? ‘What does that mean..?’

‘Well, I don’t speak much. I’m happy to be quiet and just listen. When I’m working I don’t like to talk about anything other than the flying.’

‘How is this a plus?’

‘So you can concentrate on doing a good job. I’m different from other pilots who love talking and gossiping and you get distracted! I’ve heard them complain that I’m boring that I don’t say a word at work. Unlike some others who usually don’t like the silence!’

So, when you have problem knowing what’s special about you, ask yourself, ‘what have others I worked with said about me? What would they say about me?’

Get into the right mindset for job interviews!

Client: ‘I went for the interview. They asked me if I knew about certain artists. They mentioned this long Italian name that I’d never heard of! That’s when I thought, I wish I’d studied history of art! So I didn’t get that job..’

Me: ‘Next time, don’t worry about what you don’t know. Focus on talking about what you are good at! E.g. “I can get you more sales because I can gain people’s trust quickly.” That’s a skill that they can’t easily find! It doesn’t matter if we don’t have the knowledge of the subject matter – even an art historian wouldn’t know about every single artist! In many countries, candidates are recognised for their ability to learn, rather than what they already know, because the world is changing so quickly that our skill set gets obsolete if we don’t keep updating ourselves!’

What would you have said in your interview if asked about knowledge that you don’t have?

How to not panic in job interviews II

This week a friend of mine had a job interview and wanted to grab lunch with me to practice for it.

We just sat down, she didn’t wait, ‘ask me questions, Jess.’ I obliged. I noticed that she was struggling to find anything to say about herself. She struggled to find the words. So I said, ‘try to speak to me, not thinking that you’re in an interview.’

When she stopped because she didn’t know how to say the word ‘goal’ in English, she struggled to pick herself up and get back. I noticed that she might have been beating herself up, having an unconstructive internal monologue, maybe something like ‘I suck. My English is terrible.’

So I said, ‘Hey, look, you know what, there’s a common misconception that having a good English level means speaking very fast like Americans. Some people take longer to put their ideas together and it’s important to recognise that doesn’t mean your English is poor, that only means your style is different.’

That night, I texted her, ‘the word for you is “confidence”, not “English”.

I hadn’t joined the dots at that time but now I realised that she’s perhaps another slight introvert who just takes time to form her own ideas.

Sometimes we forget what the task is. If we focus on what we need to do instead of evaluating how well we’re doing at the same time, then we’ll be fine. The truth is, in a meeting, in real time, our brains are not designed to think what we need to do, how well we are doing, and how people think about us, all at the same time!

That’s just too much going on and no one human being would be able to juggle all that multi-tasking at the same time! It’s a mistake for most of us to speak and judge ourselves at the same time! If we can put aside the judging, even to delay it to post-event, that would stop us from feeling nervous! Our society has conditioned us to constantly evaluate our performance. That’s common among high achievers. And that’s ok, as long as we don’t do it at the same time as we are presenting!

How to learn from introverts and appreciate thinking time, rather than worrying about fluency

Today when working with a super introvert, I remember one of my Airbnb guests from the States, who was very, very strange, compared to anyone I’ve ever hosted. He spent the whole week in his room. He might have gone out twice a day to the bathroom, and once a day out for food.. Very unlike others.

I love my Airbnb guests. You can learn so much about human behaviours. I love learning about how every individual is so different.

On the last day, he finally came out, all packed, ready to go. ‘Would you like a coffee?’ He replied formally and quietly, ‘yeah, that’d be nice.’

We started chatting. It was soon obvious that he painstakingly takes utmost care to choose the right word, so much so that there would be awkward silences in the conversation, although he wasn’t uncomfortable with it, whereas I was a little uncomfortable that there should be silences for more than 5 seconds. A few times I caught myself cutting him off half way. As an extrovert, I was learning to give him more time, to be aware that the silences feel much longer to me that they to them.

I learnt to use the silence for my own thinking time. I thought of all my clients in the past who have grumbled at their lack of ‘fluency’, i.e. not speaking quickly. Then I saw this guy, who’s a native speaker, who was speaking so slowly with long pauses. He shows that pausing is not an implication of lack of fluency! It’s alright to pause, and make others wait if you have something important to say!

How to instantly turn everybody around you into nice people II

Went to the supermarket for lunch yesterday. Decided to go for French roast chicken.

Girl in front of me ordered, ‘I want this quinoa. Can you heat up the quinoa for me?’ She didn’t seem particularly happy to be there. Perhaps she was hoping to get back to eat at her desk asap.. Maybe catching up with emails.

Lady at counter said ‘no we don’t heat up salads.’

A little grumpy, didn’t even look at the attendant, she replied, ‘ok it’s fine I’ll take it anyway.’

So I told myself, ‘I will be nice to this counter lady, since it seems that her day must be not that easy!

I’m naturally jolly, so it wasn’t hard to show her my good vibe. I went up, looked at her, made eye contact, smiled, pointed at the menu, ‘this salad option – how big is it? Which ones can I have?’

‘You can choose 3.’

Pleasantly surprised at the number of options, I smiled again, ‘Oh nice!’

I already had my eye on the quinoa and couscous. I couldn’t decide between the red rice and potato salad, so I asked, ‘these 2- which one is better? I can’t decide..’

To my surprise, she whispered, ‘I’ll give you both. Don’t tell anyone.’ I even detected a little upturn in the corner of her lips!

I was really surprised!!! 😀

This shows all we need is common courtesy in our daily interactions with people we come across, even though they may be the bus driver, the cleaner, or the barista. It’s not about manipulating people. I about just being ourselves. We would smile at people we are close to, wouldn’t we?

It shows if we go to people with a good attitude, people will go out of their way to do things for us! The girl before me might have been able to go her quinoa heated up if she’d just smiled!

How to impress in interviews

Today, in a job interview coaching session, client started saying ‘we brought in someone professional to do the pictures, we created templates for the app, we created prototype for the different interface…’

I couldn’t help, but honestly didn’t understand, who else are we talking about here? I asked, ‘who are “we”?’

‘Oh, “we”…! Eh.. I think.. I meant.. “I”‘.

‘Oh right! So please just say I! Coz it’s hard to understand when we start speaking like the Queen..!’

Then after one or two sentences, since she’s no longer allowed to use ‘we’, she turned to third person speech! ‘There’s an app for the client, there are hard-printed materials, there is a new Facebook page’. Well, where did these designs, websites, Facebook pages come from? She did them, of course!

‘What goes on in your head when you are telling these stories about what you’ve done in the past?’

‘It’s a bit boring isn’t it, to talk about myself? I’m bored just listening to myself talking about all these things that I’ve done!’

Ah, right. Sounds like we needed a bit of paradigm shift here!

We worked to give her a new internal dialogue, one that says ‘I tell stories to show my skills for the new job’, rather than ‘I am boring, my stories are not worth mentioning, and I don’t want to talk about myself’.

It seems easy to impress the interviewer – if you want to get the job, the minimum you’ve got to do is start speaking in first person (singular), rather than first person collective!