A Nod to Introverts

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A Nod to Introverts

By: Kristi Demuth

I’m married to a gregarious, hilarious, always the center-of-attention by nature kinda guy, and don’t tell him, but this is one of the reasons I married him. Every time we go to a function of any sort, I exhale a huge sigh of relief that I don’t have to fake it anymore. I don’t have to awkwardly overtalk to someone in my fear of silence. I don’t have to walk into a room and feel eyes on me. In fact, I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do. I am an excellent wingwoman in the sense of I can laugh with the group when he tells his outrageous stories, throw in a dry humor joke here and there, talk when I want to talk, and then go home to my couch and Netflix not completely drained. I’m an introvert and that’s ok.

What sometimes doesn’t feel ok is being an introvert in the association world. We go to meetings. We run meetings. We network. We educate. We lobby. We market why what we do is important. We seek attention. Who else is tired just reading this paragraph? *Sigh*

I think it’s important to first recognize that this profession needs people of all sorts to function. Extroverts, introverts, visionaries, detail-oriented, inspiring, organized – we all bring something to move our respective associations forward. Yet being successful at our jobs is not just choosing the right lane for our talents, but also having back-up reserves when you need to jump to another lane.

You Can Say No

I am the executive director of a small association and run three meetings per year, four days each, by myself. The days start at 5:45 am and run until at least 9 pm and consist of ensuring the 30-40 people in attendance are happy and gained the value they anticipated when they paid their dues. Being the only staff member adds pressure; it’s all on me to run the show and pick up the pieces at the same time. I used to feel beholden to be with the group at every request. What I learned is that if my job is done, it’s ok to say no. I don’t have to go out for one last drink, and I don’t have to join the post-meeting lunch. If I want that late night slice of pizza (likely), I can get it delivered. I realized people understand, and giving myself the grace to have private moments builds me up to successfully conquer the next day.

Find Your Person      

It only takes one. When I survey the crowd and feel my heart race and nerves reverberate, finding just one person to chat with or to tag along with is a game-changer. Finding an extrovert is ideal, as they love having people around and typically form crowds and run the conversation. Being part of a crowd yet not being responsible for it provides the confidence an introvert needs to relax, be themselves, and even have fun.

Own It 

I may not want the spotlight on me, but I also know what I bring to the table. I’m a good conversationalist, always asking questions and listening intently to the response. I remember personal details. I know how to relate and match people at their communication level. I’m adaptable and get along with just about every personality type. When I’m in large situations, I simply focus on bringing my style of networking to smaller numbers of people. And that’s ok. 

Does it really matter if someone prefers calm over crowds? No….yet for some reason, introverts at times get pushback if they would rather be alone. Please take a moment to stick up for them, or yourself. Underneath that reserved persona are a host of thoughts, ideas, and wit. Let’s give a shout-out to the unheralded introvert, just please, keep it quiet.

Kristi Demuth, CAE – Kristi has over seventeen years of experience in association management. She has worked as Membership Department Manager and Assistant Association Executive for a number of state medical societies. She specializes in communications and publications. Fun Fact: She enjoys running, rock concerts and relaxing on the beach.


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