Saturday, September 08, 2007

A Light-Seeking Violet Speaks Up

Low key

Thanks to Jen Robinson, I've found a marketing blog that's up my alley: Shrinking Violet Promotions: Marketing for Introverts. Here is an article about Jonathan Rauch & the Introverts' Rights Movement and has a link to Rauch's article in The Atlantic Monthly called Caring for Your Introvert.

Extroverts get their emotional energy from interacting with other people. Introverts get their emotional energy by spending time alone. Because introverts need alone-time, they're often interpreted as anti-social. Really, the main times when introverts act antisocial are when people clamor, "Come on! Stop moping! Join us! Join us!" and when the introvert says, "I will, in a little while," the people around them say, "No! Join us NOW!"

(All of those exclamation points are so exhausting.)

I'm an introvert who's learned camouflage techniques for coping in an extroverted world. With my storytelling business underway, many people are potential customers. I've handed out business cards, placed flyers on community boards, and advertised online and in print sources (thank you, Peppers and Pollywogs). I've stopped introducing myself as a "children's librarian in semi-retirement" and owned up to my profession as a musical storyteller. There are times when I wish I had an extrovert on the team who would do my marketing for me. I can get out there in front of an audience and radiate genuine enthusiasm for my work. However, the people who want jazz-hands and the exuberant "Hi kids!" attitude found on Saturday morning cartoon commercials probably won't want me at their children's birthday parties. I'm fine with that. My enthusiastic but low-key musical storytelling gigs are alternatives to video-game pizza-parlor parties. Also, if the people of Seattle want a clown, they can find a good one, easily, in Deano the Clown.

Mary Hershey of Shrinking Violet Promotions has a post on self-care for introverts. I have actually employed Tip #3 a number of times.

Tip #3: If you ever end up being held hostage on an airplane next to an rabid extravert who won't stop talking, and they don't seem put off by you putting on headphones, how about trying this? Start talking non-stop to them about any senseless thing that comes to your mind. If you run out of things to say, make them listen to you read out loud long excerpts from a fascinating article from the in-flight magazine. Some extraverts are looking for introverts to charge upon-- if they mistake you for another Chatzilla, chances are they'll be pulling their little pillow out and closing their eyes soon.--Mary Hershey

It works. It really works.

P.S. Violets have always been my favorite flowers.

Related story: Clown vs. Storyteller.


Lone Star Ma said...

I like the energy definition. I am a strange sort of introvert. I really like attention, I am way talkative and I am comfortable with public speaking....but I often find the thought of making myself go to some social event that I really want to go to, like a warm, intimate party with good friends, to be just exhausting. I need to read and take baths and stuff to be sane.

adrienne said...

I have the same mixed feelings about this, Lone Star Ma. If I don't get a fair amount of alone/quiet time, I just can't deal with other humans, even people I really like and doing things I really want to do. I must like attention on some level, though, because here I am doing storytimes and presentations all the time. Storytimes don't make me nervous (much); presentations do, though. And I always need a certain amount of chill-out time after I've done anything in front of a group. I think this might be how it is for a lot of people, though.

BTW, the thing that's hardest for me? Opening the door to the storytime room and announcing that storytime's starting. I don't even do it after the first couple weeks of the session; much better to just open the door and wait for everyone to notice. :) My co-librarian, though, has no problem doing an announcement, so, if he's around, I just ask him to do it. I am not sure why this crosses the line of what makes me comfortable. After all, once the kids are all in the room, I will be singing and dancing and doing any other number of silly things other adults wouldn't consider doing in front of a group.

HipWriterMama said...

So cool there are other people that have the same disposition as I do.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

LSM: I suspect that a lot of people who are comfortable in a presentation/performance capacity are actually introverts.

Adrienne: I'm thinking that I should ask you for an interview for Spinning Wheel. What do you say? You can give totally different answers from 7Imp for the Pivot questionaire and no one will call you on it!

HWM: There's gotta be some motto to coin: Introverts of the World Unite-- Quietly.

adrienne said...

Ooo! I'd love to, esp. because you know that immediately after I hit "send" for the 7-Imp interview, I thought of all the really cool answers to the Pivot.

A friend sent me a fun article from the July issue of Real Simple called "Confessions of a Closet Introvert." It was about the author's conscious effort to try to become more social. I read it and thought, "I could do that, but why?"

Timothy Carter said...

Violets are your favourite flowers? For me, Violets are my favourite wives! Well, just one Violet, actually. Aren't I cute and mushy?

I really liked that bit about introverts, and can totally relate. I'm mostly introverted myself, although I've conquered my fear of speaking in public with a huge degree of success.

Good post.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Timothy: Contrary to what some people think, cute and mushy isn't a bad thing, especially when it concerns one's spouse.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

jules said...

One of my favorite Garrison Keillor essays -- "How to Write a Letter" (from We Are Still Married) -- starts out like this:

"We shy persons need to write a letter now and then, or else we'll dry up and blow away. It's true. And I speak as one who loves to reach for the phone, dial the number, and talk. I say, "Big Bopper here-- what's shakin' babes?" The telephone is to shyness what Hawaii is to February, it's a way out of the woods, and yet: a letter is better."

Just sharing. This made me think of that. Great essay.

Jules, who is getting caught up on blog-reading and who is shy but actually hates talking on the phone

cloudscome said...

I hate talking on the phone too. I don't have any problem talking in front of the group when I am teaching or being a librarian or leading something, but I hate small chit chat and am not very good at it. It seems so pointless. I'd rather jump into a really good discussion about something fascinating.... maybe that's why I love blogging?

Robin Brande said...

Sorry I'm so late on this, but I'm just now taking a break from work/life to catch up on some blogs.

I got such a laugh out of this: "the people who want jazz-hands"--ha! Perfect frame of reference.

I'm one of those mixed breeds, too--absolutely need lots and lots of alone time, but also crave some attention and interaction--on my terms. I don't go to parties, don't like most social situations, but I'm very comfortable giving presentations in front of crowds. Weird.