I‘m an introvert. There. I said it. Please don’t run away. I don’t have a disease, and it is not contagious anyway.
But like it or not, an introvert is what I am. Numerous cycles through various psychological tests have confirmed it many times. Yes, I’m an introvert. And I have something to say.
You see, the great problem for us introverts is that we often feel out of place in social settings. We don’t prefer crowds and we don’t prefer mixing with folks we don’t know. This does NOT mean we don’t like people. We do. We just take a lot longer to get to know people. Once we know you, an introvert can be a great friend and dependable resource for anyone. But we come off as shy in public.
We introverts feel terribly out of place in many of the settings which are important for pharmacy careers. We are unlikely to pursue positions on committees, boards or associations. We’ll probably NOT be the first name on the list of employees attending the company Christmas party. We are probably not going to sign up to attend the big pharmacy conferences and mingle with a bunch of strangers. We tend to prefer reading to mingling. We tend to prefer writing to networking. We prefer texting and emails to phone calls. In the minds of some, that makes us somewhat less attractive for positions in pharmacy leadership. But they are wrong.
In a great book by Susan Cain entitled Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, she powerfully argues that Introverts have far more to offer society, professions and business than has been previously thought.
I love this quote from her book:
“Introverts need to trust their gut and share their ideas as powerfully as they can. This does not mean aping extroverts; ideas can be shared quietly, they can be communicated in writing, they can be packaged into highly produced lectures, they can be advanced by allies. The trick for introverts is to honor their own styles instead of allowing themselves to be swept up by prevailing norms.”
And so what would I say to pharmacists or pharmacy techs who realize they are more introverts than extroverts (it is never totally one or the other), but are concerned about advancing their careers and their contributions to the profession?
5 CAREER TIPS FOR INTROVERTS:
1) Don’t feel like you have to change who you are to be successful. That is the first thing. Your personality type is not something that needs medication and should be treated. The unique characteristics and strengths of insight that are common to introverts will go a long way in helping you advance your career and contribute meaningfully to your profession. You do not have to become or pretend to be an extrovert to be successful in your career.
2) Take your reading and writing into the public square without feeling the need to advertise yourself or promote yourself. A simple way to do this is to start a blog on a topic of professional interest to you. What is your greatest interest professionally in pharmacy? Is it business growth? Inventory? Counseling? Drug interactions? Academic degrees? Tablet coating? It doesn’t matter. Whatever that area of professional interest is, just start to write about it. Introverts like to be experts. So keep it generally focused on your specialty. Do it just for yourself at first. Enjoy it. Then watch it grow.
3) Learn to use Social Media tools like Twitter and LinkedIn. Then, consider adding accounts at Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and others. Social Media is great for introverts. We can mingle from the quiet solitude of our comfy couch. Share quotes, links and comments. Follow people of similar interests.. For help with social media, feel free to reach out to me with your questions. I will help you if I can.
4) Use Email to your advantage. Since we introverts tend to content ourselves with quiet victories, we are liable to be overlooked or underappreciated in our careers. No one is going to go searching for your successes. So share them, without being boastful, in email updates to individuals that should know. Your advantage here is that you are probably a better writer than your extroverted friends. You can communicate your ideas powerfully and concisely. Beware the temptation that I have fallen into myself to write EXCESSIVELY long emails. This is a problem for introverts. We sit, we think, we have a lot to say. We see things from many angles, and want to therefore address every possible question or concern. Don’t do it. Or at least try to control it.
5) Help other pharmacy professionals get what they want. One of my favorite Zig Ziglar quotes is that “you can get anything you want in this life, if you will only help enough other people get what they want.” Use your intuition and observational powers to figure out what the professionals in your company really want. Help them achieve that. Once you do, and do it often enough, you will likely find your own career taking off.
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