An introvert working at a PR firm? The idea can be pretty far-fetched and even scary — unlikely for many and intimidating for the individual him/herself, and for good reason.
PR, after all, is a very competitive and dynamic landscape, as demanding as it is rewarding. PR professionals are generally perceived as gregarious, outspoken and bold individuals who would go out of their way to network with and meet clients, the media and other stakeholders. Their strong people skills and high adaptability enable them to cater to different personalities and demands while juggling multiple projects that, more often than not, have tight deadlines. These don’t sound like the environment someone who likes to take their time with decisions and perform their tasks in a quiet space would want to be in. Hopping from one meeting to another, negotiating with clients or suppliers and brainstorming with colleagues might not be an introvert’s idea of a regular work day.
But who is to say introverts have no space in such world? Does being more reserved or having the tendency to be more of a lone wolf equate to inability to work in an industry such as PR and collaborate with other people effectively? Are we truly bound by our stereotypes?
A resounding Of course not! is the answer to all these questions. The PR industry — and any other industry and workplace for that matter — will certainly be a lot better with introverts around, with all sorts of personality types around. We all bring something to the table, and definitely introverts have something to share and contribute.
As for the introverts, while it may not be within our natural inclination to make small talk or be actively outgoing, in order for us to grow, career-wise and in life, we must learn to explore and adapt outside of our comfort zones. We will never know if we had a knack for something if we never try it. What is it they say about getting our feet wet in order to learn something? Besides, as with other jobs, once we get the hang of things, everything else follows.
As ironic as it might seem, being an introvert in PR might just prove to be an advantage. For starters, the expectations are not that high so anything we accomplish would be a win. Yay!
But seriously, introverts can — and often — offer a different perspective and skill set, which helps to further diversify the talents within a team. We may need to work under certain conditions to bring out our best, but when that light bulb moment happens, we are just as efficient, if not more so, as the other personality types in the office. We play into our strengths and may even be better candidates for certain tasks and roles.
While these sound great and reassuring, we may still be asking ourselves exactly how we’re going to pull this off, how we can harness our qualities to find our place under the PR sun. Well, my introspective friend, let’s look into how we introverts survive — and thrive in — PR.
Tap our innate creativity
Let’s bring that natural predilection for introspection to good use. As we spend time engaging with our thoughts and connecting with our feelings and experiences, why not use that energy to explore fresh or new insights and perspectives that can then contribute to ideation for a campaign or a new content topic? Different people fuel their creativity in different ways. We introverts can channel our contemplative nature to brew ideas. This means that while we continue to work on our own, we are also taking part in our team’s tasks.
We may take time deciding or prefer to work alone most times instead of being part of a group, but we can still be innovative in coming up with new ideas or finding a solution to a problem. We could be quiet in our seat during group brainstorm, but that does not mean we’re not actively exploring ideas and playing with different scenarios in our head. Once we learn to harness our deep thinking to kindle our creative prowess, we can channel it into our tasks and projects, spanning from everyday problem-solving to content creation and even product development.
Capitalize on our independent personality
One upside of being an introvert is our inclination to work autonomously. We are generally okay sitting comfortably in our quiet corner, concentrating on our work. Working alone in this way enables us to manage our thought process and arrive at conclusions or solutions organically. It also allows us to have a distinct and personal approach in doing tasks to yield optimal results.
This doesn’t mean, however, that we struggle or cannot function properly when placed in teams. While a group discussion is an extrovert’s specialty, we are nonetheless capable of playing our part and contributing by actively listening and offering insights when needed. Our groupmates may think we’re not as collaborative or participatory simply because we’re not as talkative, but we’ll surprise everyone with our input stemming from paying attention. The dynamic formed when the strengths of extroverts and introverts complement each other make for a more inclusive and collaborative environment that inspires richer and more productive discussions.
Being able to work independently is a great quality to have, especially when working remotely or when provided with little supervision. It also conveys to our superiors that we have the competency for the job and are committed to our work.
Utilize our cautious nature
Introverts naturally avoid drawing attention to themselves, in particular, in social settings going as far as devising plans to escape when we deem our social battery running out. In a work setting, this is something we can leverage to our advantage.
I’m not saying we should devise plans to escape from our responsibilities. Quite the opposite actually. We can instead use this natural tendency to further improve the quality of our work.
Introversion inclines us to adopt a cautious and thorough approach when planning our course of action. We examine all potential possibilities and their outcomes, leading us to make well-informed decisions. We double, triple check things and pay attention to details that may otherwise be missed. This approach is useful in projects where careful thinking and concentration are crucial such as campaign planning or crisis management scenarios, even replying to emails from clients sometimes. In these projects, you can never be too careful.
Leverage our empathetic trait
As introspective and reflective individuals, we introverts are more attuned to our emotions and of those around us. We listen carefully and observe a lot, enabling us to empathize with others much more easily.
In the workplace, empathy is sometimes overlooked. But let’s not forget how invaluable empathy is, especially in tough, stressful jobs and situations. While empathy may not be a key component in fulfilling deadlines and accomplishing tasks, it shines when maintaining positive work relationships. It makes us naturally considerate of our colleagues and more sensitive to their needs and feelings, which then helps foster a harmonious and supportive work environment.
The sensitivity borne out of empathy can certainly be a good tool when dealing with clients. When we’re able to have a deeper understanding of their concerns, we gain an edge in delivering tailored solutions. Even better, we’re able to build a richer relationship with them. When dealing with other stakeholders in the PR world, empathy can help us slip into the other person’s shoes and gain fresh insights. This can enable our team to design strategic approaches.
Harness our communication skills
Introverts may not enjoy small talk or have difficulty maneuvering conversations because we prefer writing to talking, but this does not mean we do not have the requisite communication skills.
Many introverts are actually deep thinkers with strong opinions. We just do not want or do not feel the need to articulate those thoughts all the time. Being earnest observers and listeners would enable us to really absorb what the other person is saying or not saying but means to. Isn’t it true what they say that listening, not talking more than necessary, is key to effective communication?
So let’s not worry ourselves out if we can’t yet be everyone’s favorite conversationalist. Let’s focus instead on contributing something important to the discussion. Clients would appreciate outcome, not mere talk.
Practice self-awareness at work
Constant introspection boosts self-awareness, and this conscious effort to know oneself enables us introverts to appreciate our strengths and understand our weaknesses, know our limits and try to see the possibilities. This helps improve our emotional intelligence, something that is very important in the workplace regardless of industry.
Being self-aware enables us to better deal with people at work and anywhere. It helps us better deal with ourselves. How? It comes in handy when managing tasks and time and enhancing productivity. Knowing our capabilities and limitations would arm us in strategizing and planning our work or day much more effectively and productively. When faced with pressure and stress, self-awareness lets us view situations from different perspectives and respond better. Self-knowledge also helps in recognizing the signs of stress and when to take that needed break to safeguard mental health.
If for team members, self-awareness is one cornerstone of success, it’s even more so for leaders. Self-aware leaders are much more effective in managing their team’s goals and team members. Since they know the team’s assets and how best to use those the same way they know the team’s weaknesses, they’re able to steer the group in the right direction.
As it turns out, our very nature gives us the means to survive — excel even — in this line of work. So, if you’ve ever thought that being an introvert was a drawback, think again. In PR, it’s our superpower and we’re here to shine – one carefully crafted email or press release at a time.