When we think of someone who runs a business, we get a picture in our mind of a person who is always wheeling-and-dealing, shaking hands and putting on a smile during meetings—generally impressing everyone they encounter.
It’s easy to forget that there are many business owners who don’t fit the mold and actually have a lot of trouble functioning socially, especially in a professional capacity. The aim of this post is to offer some sound advice for the socially-challenged business owner, to provide some tools that will help with the uncomfortable affectation of interacting with others.
The Responsibility of Introverts to Be Outgoing
One thing that is important to remember if you are the type of person who finds it hard to function socially is that other people cannot make you be more assertive. If you are introverted or otherwise, it’s on you to make a conscious effort to be more outgoing.
The flipside of that coin is that extroverts also have a responsibility to take it back a notch to make room for everyone else. Think of it as a gap in the middle of a conversation where you and the other person have to meet in the middle, and it requires effort on both sides.
Practice On Your Own
As silly as it sounds, it’s not a bad idea to practice having a professional conversation when you’re by yourself, or with a partner. As with anything else, if you take a good amount of time to practice this, you’ll be far better-equipped and more confident to handle your interactions with colleagues and the like.
You can even come up with some go-to conversation starters and stock responses that will make you look good and keep the dialogue moving.
And while you are practicing at home, try doing it in front of a mirror (or just enlist a partner) to know exactly what you look and sound like to another person in conversation. You might be surprised.
For some reason, introverts tend to be rude without ever realizing it and end up leaving a bad taste in someone’s mouth. If that’s you, it’s a condition of which you definitely want to be aware.
Keep a Couple Jokes in Your Pocket
In addition to memorizing stock responses to stimulate conversation, it can’t hurt to have a couple of good jokes on deck—nothing elaborate or heady, just some low-brow stuff that doesn’t put you at risk of offending anyone.
Make Eye Contact
It’s no secret that you need to make eye contact with people when conversing; however, people who are introverted tend to avoid it, which can send the wrong message to someone. We tend to respect someone more if they maintain eye contact with us, and as a business owner, you want to inspire confidence in others.
Show Genuine Interest
This is a foundational principle of engaging someone, and yet it seems that most people, introverts and extroverts alike, overlook this very important point—just showing interest in the other.
First of all, they will be more apt to listen to you if you’re talking about them. Genuinely take an interest, ask the person what they mean and what they think. It’s amazing how much people will open up to you.
No matter how much of a social handicap you have, there are steps you can take to make up for the deficiency and thoroughly impress everyone you interact with. You might not be a social butterfly, but with just a little bit of effort, it’s easily possible for you to make a positive and professional impression on others.
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.