15 Tips for Dealing Effectively with Introvert Clients
By Sharon Graham.
As career and employment practitioners, we support a wide range of clients. It’s unlikely that any one client is completely introverted or extraverted. However, some clients may have introvert traits. We can employ a number of strategies to help these individuals navigate through their career development.
Introvert clients bring many benefits to the workplace. By celebrating the strengths of these individuals, we can help them succeed in their career. Make the most of your introvert clients’ talents while enabling them to build competencies that employers value.
Watch Susan Cain’s Ted Talk on Introverted People and then take advantage of these tips to help you support your clients:
- Don’t let your biases or assumptions get in the way. Recognize that if an introvert client is not able to immediately respond during coaching sessions, this does not mean that individual is incapable or incompetent. Introverts typically need some time to gather their thoughts. If a client seems quiet or unresponsive, it may or may not be a sign of depression. Your client may just need time to think and explore his thoughts and feelings.
- Don’t expect answers right away. During coaching sessions, don’t get discouraged when your introvert client has little to share immediately. Be patient. Listen carefully and allow him to flesh out his thoughts. If you give your client time to absorb and consider your question, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the thoughtful, quality response you’ll receive.
- Avoid too much social “small talk.” Keep your coaching sessions on topic. Avoid inconsequential discussions and get right into the subject matter. Stick with the topic of discussion rather than chatting about peripheral areas.
- Introduce topics in a structured, organized manner. Introverts tend to be uncomfortable with scattered discussions that jump from topic to topic. If you dedicate quality time to one area of interest, you’ll help your client to delve deep and identify meaningful plans, goals, and actions.
- Listen fully and with empathy. Allow your introvert client to delve deep by asking reflective questions. Let him think and explore his thoughts and feelings fully. Silence is golden. Don’t act on the urge to “cut in” and finish his sentences.
- Help your client manage the stress of change. If your client is going through a career transition, give him the opportunity to articulate how he feels. If your introvert client holds any negative feelings in, he will have more difficulty navigating through the transition.
- Help your clients to find and select roles that are a good fit. If certain aspects of positions seem out of character, point them out. There is a risk that an introvert client will become overwhelmed in a job that is not appropriate.
- Let your client record information before presenting it. An introvert client may not be able to readily list certain information such as career achievements. If you leave your client with an assignment, he will come back to the table with a solid list to discuss.
- Allow your client to prepare. For example, before delivering the first interview role-play session, give your client the time to practice at home. You’ll be surprised at the hours of hard work and precision that your client will take advantage of “behind the scenes” and come back with something spectacular.
- Don’t force your client to be extraverted. Introverts tend to be low-key. Take the pressure off your client and don’t advise him to be more dynamic, proactive, or aggressive in interviews. Your client will be more successful if he is authentic.
- Help your client to be cognizant of non-verbal communication. To combat any perception that the introvert may not fit in, help him to learn strategies to connect with others. Work on facial expressions such as eye contact and smiling. Deal with posture and other gestures to ensure open body language.
- Keep meetings and practice sessions reasonably short. Lengthy meetings might drain energy from an introvert client. If your client seems lethargic, suggest a break or end the session; if required, schedule a separate time to pick up where you left off.
- Don’t mandate large group sessions. These formats might drain your client’s energy, making it difficult to learn effectively or accomplish goals. If you must perform group facilitation, remember that your introvert client needs time and solitude. Don’t put your client “on the spot” in meetings and dedicate some time away from the group for personal work.
- Give challenging homework projects. Your introvert client enjoys having time to register and absorb lessons learned during coaching sessions. Assign reflective assignments with tangible outputs to give your client the opportunity to present his homework and tangibly demonstrate learnings.
- Enable your client to embrace extraverted traits. Give your introvert client a chance to learn techniques such as networking, presentation, and interviewing. Without pushing too hard, help him to practice these skills. Consistent application of concepts helps clients to gain confidence and cope better with situations outside their comfort level.
Our introvert clients bring special gifts. Knowing about these gifts helps us to appreciate and value our clients. By understanding the needs of introverts, we can help them take advantage of their natural strengths and talents throughout their career.
I would like to hear from you. What tools and techniques do you use to enable your introvert clients to succeed in career development? Learn much more about how you can help a wide range of clients through Career Professionals of Canada and our Self-study Certification Programs.