Introverts: How to Make the Uncomfortable, Comfortable

a dog representing an uncomfortable introvert

Alright, I’m an introverted, highly sensitive, INFJ who also suffers from Asperger’s syndrome. So, I’m about as much of an “I love being alone with my thoughts” person as you can get. I don’t like loud noises, crowds, big events, or having change happen without being prepared for it. Which is why it surprises people that I’m also a lover of video calls with my writing clients.

Wait! I hear you say, aren’t video calls stressful, real-time events? You don’t even know the person who you are talking to! Are you really an introvert?

Yes, but I’ve taken steps to make sure that a 30-minute Zoom call doesn’t send me into a panic spiral for the rest of the day, and I want to help you do that too.

I’ve known writers who are able to talk on the phone all day long, and writers who only communicate via text and email. I’m smack dab in the middle. I can communicate either way, especially if I’m talking about worldbuilding and creativity. 

To be honest, doing a video call three years ago would have been unthinkable for me. I’m sure many of you introverts have something that you know you need to do for your business, hobby, or career, but that thing is just so… uncomfortable!

Whether that’s a presentation, showcasing your work, or marketing, I’m here to share three tips on how to make the uncomfortable, comfortable. All you need to do is make an effort to remove those two letters, and you’ll achieve more than you ever thought you would.

3 Steps to Make the Uncomfortable, Comfortable

Step 1: Acclimation

There’s a rule with fish when you have to take them out of their tank and clean it, or even when you introduce a new fish to an existing environment. What you do is you take the water from the old tank and mix it into the water the fish is already in.

Soon the temperature is similar enough to where the fish can be transitioned, and it will get used to the new environment. If you don’t do this process and simply drop the fish into the new tank, it will die of shock.

Introverts, we are the same way. When it comes to doing something uncomfortable, we need to first be acclimated to that situation.

I didn’t start out loving video calls with complete strangers, or even phone calls with my best friends or family members. They would send me into a panic as I fumbled to turn the ringer off, but I started small.

I would schedule out my phone calls (see step 2) and would talk with a good friend or relative for a determined amount of time before I made up an excuse for why I had to go. I gradually built up my resilience towards the length of the calls with people I was comfortable with and moved on from there.

Do the same thing for whatever it is you are nervous about. Spend five minutes in an uncomfortable situation, and then gradually work your way up. You don’t have to make some big gesture or dive headfirst into the deep end, and no matter what anyone says it’s fine to start small.

Step 2: Schedule Things Out

Introverts love plans and patterns, and I’m no exception to the rule. I always schedule out my calls to the minute, so I know a client will call me at 2 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon and we’ll chat for an hour. 

Then I’m not blindsided or surprised, and it becomes easier to actually look forward to that event throughout the day. So, pick a time or a day where you step outside your comfort zone. I only have client calls in the afternoon on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and am notified of the 2:00/3:00 meetings well beforehand.

Let’s say you are an artist, and really hate showing off your work to anyone but close friends or family. In order to acclimate yourself to it, invite someone over at a prescheduled time or date and casually mention your latest project.

That way you can think about what you want to say and know exactly when the interaction will happen. If you know something is coming, you can prepare. Then go to step one to work to build up your resilience.

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Step 3: Prepare for Blunders Beforehand

I’m not a very technical guy, so aside from turning a computer on and maybe playing with a few programs, electronics aren’t my thing.

So, when it comes to video calls, I am always paranoid that something will go wrong, it will be my fault, and I won’t know how to fix it. It still plagues me to this day, and probably always will, but I’m fine with that. In order to fight this paranoia, I have a ritual I follow:

  • First, 30 minutes before the call, I set up my workspace to receive the call. Clean my desk, arrange the wall behind me, wash my face… those kinda things
  • Second, I check the video and audio settings of my computer. I go to Skype or Zoom and click on settings, then test microphone/audio. I make sure the green bar moves when I speak and I hear the test sound beforehand.
  • Finally, I check with the client. Once we’ve said hello, I always say the following: “Okay, you can hear me, I can hear you, let’s get started.” Then I go straight into the call. That little mantra puts my mind at ease and allows me to focus on the client.

So, take the time to control what you can. If you can eliminate worries and potential problems from occurring, then you can set your mind at ease and focus on what you need to do. You’re probably worrying enough after all!

If the thought of giving a presentation has you quivering, but you still have to do it, then figure out what you can control. Go to the presentation room beforehand and see what the area looks like, make sure all your slides and videos are displayed properly, and rehearse what you are going to say.

Brainstorm potential problems and put solutions in place to handle them. For example, if you don’t know the exact number of people coming to your event, then stack some extra chairs on the far wall to accommodate surprise guests.

It Won’t Be Easy, But It Will Become Comfortable

Despite all these steps, even slightly getting into an uncomfortable situation is going to make you feel off. If you push through it and focus on acclimating, scheduling, and preparing, then you’ll increase your comfort level. 

It won’t be easy, and even three years into my writing business, I still get nervous right before a call starts. But instead of being nervous for hours beforehand, instead, I’m only apprehensive for the first few minutes with technical stuff. Then the unease turns into enjoyment.

If you push through, then you’ll be able to do things that you never thought were possible, and isn’t that worth a little hard work? For the chance to grow as a person and grow your cause, relationships, or business? Hopefully, you think it is.

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