You know those people who just thrive in social scenarios? They love the hustle and bustle of their external environment, working in fast-paced jobs, and talking through their decision-making process. These are known as extroverts. The social butterflies of the world.
I would hardly call myself a butterfly. I am not sure what specific animal, bug or descriptor would best showcase my very opposite tendencies, but introverts—hear me out. There’s a place for us too!
Can I get a raised hand to all my introverts out there?! We’re a pretty substantial part of the population. Introverts are estimated to be about 25 to 40 percent of people out there. There’s a lot of debate on extrovert vs. introvert. In fact, some even say that introverts are very misunderstood, often not “assertive enough” or able to handle the nature of social scenarios and leadership. The fact is, introverts make great leaders and thinkers. Guess what? Charles Darwin, Rosa Parks, and Warren Buffet… all of them are introverts, as well as wonderful leaders! Even author J.K. Rowling is an introvert, and really, where would we all be without the Harry Potter series?
There’s a trend among these clashing personality types though. Instead of embracing their serious, often quiet and reflective style, introverts are more often encouraged to act like extroverts, making it seem like introverts are lacking something in their skills, and must change their personality traits to better fit in with the world.
Well, that’s simply not true! If you’re a medical traveler that typically leans toward a more introverted approach, read some of these tips to making the most of your very dazzling personality. You keep on that awesome introvert path, you non-social butterfly!
Traveler Tips For Introverts
Increase your happiness.
Different personality traits are associated with learning and productivity, but how does being an introvert relate to overall well-being and happiness?
One of the most common misconceptions of introverts is that we aren’t happy. It could be because studies show that relationships with others tend to play a big role in our happiness. While being an introvert means you’re more likely to focus inward and socialize less, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have less meaningful relationships. Research suggests that happiness tends to thrive in our sense of purpose, our self-acceptance, and having a supportive network of people to lean on.
As an introvert, you can feel like most people just don’t really ‘get’ you most of the time. It’s already hard enough to find people who like the same stuff as you, and even more when you’re a medical traveler trying to make new friends on-the-go. So how do you “find your people” especially when you’re a medical traveler taking on new assignments and new locations every 13 weeks? Try a new approach or two.
Think about the coworkers you have now. Is there one or two who seem interesting or that you’d like to get to know more? Make a move and start a friendship! Introverts have a tendency to wait on others to show interest (hey, I’m in this boat too.) If you reach out first, you’re in control of the communication. Finding your crew takes time and patience, but once you make a friend, you have a connection to that city and location, so you can visit them or expand your circle even more.
Ask questions. Introverts have the great gift of listening and listening well. Ask your prospective friend about their life, their plans, what they’re interested in doing, how long they’ve been a traveler, etc. Finding out more about someone is half the fun of forging a new friendship.
Network in your own way.
Oh no. Making small talk with strangers… it’s an introvert’s nightmare! How can an introverted medical traveler interact with others comfortably to thrive in their environment?
Find ways to meet people in smaller settings. Ask a colleague to pick their brain about work over a cup of coffee. Shadow a coworker and ask questions. See if that night nurse is interested in grabbing breakfast when their shift is over. An intimate gathering is much more comfortable for most introverts than a large group.
It’s a hard fact: The more you show your true self to others, the more you feel awkward and self-conscious. Everyone wants to be well-liked by others. Once you let go of the fact that not everyone is going to jive with your style, a weight will be lifted. These are questions of self-doubt: What if they don’t like what you’re all about? What if you ask a dumb question?
Take a tip from Frozen and LET. IT GO. It’s easier said than done, but the more you get to know people, and let your true self shine, the less awkward it will be. Remember that awkwardness will go away with time and that it doesn’t matter if you are an introvert or an extrovert—your community of mentors and influencers can be built when you are yourself.
Manage your social stress.
Life is already stressful, but when you’re working in healthcare, it can feel impacted even more. Add in the fact that social settings kind of stress you out too and, well, how are you supposed to have any respite or relaxation?
When you’re an introvert, sometimes you just want to be left alone. It’s not that you don’t like people, you just get stressed by social obligations more easily. Working as a medical traveler, you’re around people as part of your job. So if you’re an introvert, when you’re off your shift you’re probably gravitating toward the couch and a binge-watch more easily. That is totally fine. A lot of advice columns would have you feeling pretty crappy about spending your time solo. You may have felt the pressure to keep up with the social lives of your more extroverted friends, but in actuality introverts need more time and space to rest and recharge their social batteries. Know your limits. Understand what works for you, and don’t feel bad about needing to shut the door on plans or people for a bit.
Small talk and networking isn’t the only solution to communicating as an introvert.
Extroverts and introverts have different communication needs and tactics. Introverts, when you’re communicating with extroverts, both personally and in a medical traveler setting, keep these tips in mind:
-Prepare for professional discussions. Not every conversation can be planned for, but if you’re about to have a big meetup with a group, or an important discussion with a coworker, run it through your head first. Maybe your approach needs retooling? Maybe everything is okay as is? The point is, when you’re prepared to talk, you’ll feel more comfortable, regardless of who you’re speaking to.
-Ask questions instead of offering opinions. A lot of introverts (myself included) are guilty of this. A lot of introverts are internal problem-solvers, meaning they get in their own head and approach a situation from the perspective of what they think the other party needs, instead of simply asking questions to find out what their real needs are.
-Tell people when you need space. This can be a tough one, because the wrong way of communicating this can seem aloof and cold to an extrovert. Or really, to anyone that may not understand you yet. Let people know that you enjoy working with them, talking with them or being around them. Then explain that sometimes you need extra space to work effectively or recharge your social brain. Most people will understand your parameters and gracefully give you what you need.
-Take your time. Introverts can sometimes be bullied into coming out of their shells and accepting invites. In your own time, you’ll shine through, so don’t feel rushed to fit in with the group.
Keep success in your corner.
We’ve already established that introverts are just as successful and capable of leadership as extroverts. But how do you keep the success rolling?
Be firm but flexible. Knowing your limits is important as an introvert, but you must maintain a sense of flexibility with your fellow extroverts as well. Be a social chameleon and experiment with putting yourself out there. Become a social introvert. Engage with your coworkers for a few minutes of small talk each day. It’s not a “waste of time” if you’re making friends and new connections to take to your next travel assignment.
Being an introverted medical traveler has its perks. Introverts tend to speak their mind and it’s better overall for their health. In one study, 404 people were examined on the effects of hiding negative emotions and faking positive ones. It found that introverts were less prone to hiding their negative emotions and less likely to suffer bottled up emotions as a result.
There’s a lot of stigma out there surrounding the nature of introverts. Don’t listen to the haters. Remember that introverts don’t need improvement. They just need different tools and perspectives to navigate their lives than extroverts do. Focusing on your strengths with the right attitude can help you create lasting happiness in your life, both professionally and personally.