Mentoring for Introverts
Let’s face it, mentoring for introverts feels like a distraction more than an asset.
After reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In” I thought a lot about mentoring and having a mentor. What a great way to feel connected and learn from someone who’s been where I want to be. I thought about the doors a mentor could open and all the great people I would meet.
Then I realized I’m an introvert and the thought of picking someone’s brain is a whole lot more appealing that having coffee with twenty different people to establish if they would be my mentor.
So much for my mentoring aspirations. I had visions of awkward conversations and never-ending small talk on my mind.
Sometimes we make things out to be worse than they are. Don’t be so fast to dismiss something that could be the greatest thing to happen to your career or business. Mentoring for introverts isn’t that bad, you simply have to take a different approach. A stranger asking me to get coffee and small talk does not sound appealing at all. You have to find another way through to me.
Likewise, I don’t want to go through a torturous ordeal just to find one person I can connect with on a real level. Most of us at this point are too discouraged by the possibility of overwhelming human contact to try. We justify that we just don’t need help or worse, everything we need can be found on the internet.
The mentoring process is for corporate cheese balls. No thank you. I can learn everything I need to know on the internet.
If this statement sounds like something, you would say then you need to read this. Mentoring for introverts is particularly challenging because we resist the social interaction in the beginning. I assure you, once you settle into a mentoring relationship you’ll count your blessing for the valuable person in your life. It could save you a lot of time and frustration while you’re learning something new. Whether you’re in school, starting a business or making over your life, going through the mentoring process with a good mentor can put your effort into warp speed.
The Illusion of the Internet
The Internet is amazing, the connection of one to many is unparalleled. What could be better, I can access information at my fingertips, and I don’t have to talk to anyone to get it. The Internet is an introvert’s paradise. The Internet may be great, but it’s far from perfect.
Trolls aren’t just for bridges anymore
A few weeks ago I had an eye-opening discussion with my daughter’s boyfriend. What he said changed the way I look at my online relationships. In frustration over a conversation I had with someone on a subreddit earlier that day, I told my daughters boyfriend (Sam) what happened.
The person on the subreddit was seeking advice and was so down I felt the need to make him feel better (I took the bait). I spent an hour going back and forth with this person. The conversation seemed like a debate. An argument for his life on my end and against everything I had to say on his end. In the end, the person on the other end sent me a bunch of laughing emoji. What? I didn’t get it.
What I learned from an Internet Troll
I like to think I’m not delusional but also want to think the best of the people I talk to online. I’m sure for the most part they are genuine. For me, that doesn’t change the fact that a stranger tricked me on a subreddit.
At first, I didn’t understand what the emoji’s meant. When I told Sam about it, he said “Oh, you got trolled,” as if this was an everyday thing.
A troll? According to Sam, an Internet troll is someone who goes on forums with the sole purpose of wasting time and upsetting people. Yes, I got trolled.
Getting to the point
Let me back up here. You probably want to know why I’m telling you this story. Well, the point is, you never know who’s on the other end of your online conversations. Facebook, Twitter, forums it doesn’t matter.
When they’re online people can be whoever they want to be. If you’re seeking advice online (or in my case giving it), you need to understand the risks. Don’t assume they are who they say they are. They may or may not have the experience they claim to have. They many not actually know how to help you. Not to mentions, they’re not consistently there for you.
People on the Internet don’t know your story or your background. Likewise, you’re not perfect either. A lot of the time we leave some things out when we share online. We don’t want to look bad so whomever you’re seeking advice from isn’t even getting the full story.
Mentoring for Introverts, Tips for Finding a Mentor
- Be specific. I know you hate small talk so cut to the chase before you feel you have to. Research what you want and only look for mentors that fit the bill.
- Don’t think of it as looking for a mentor. I know finding a mentor is the ultimate goal. However, if you put that kind of stress on yourself it’ll feel overwhelming, and you won’t do it.
- Slowly build a relationship. Introverts function better one on one, so take advantage of getting to know this person in a real way before you think of asking for mentorship.
- Ask your desired mentor some questions about their work, even if it seems obvious. Mentoring for introverts is a bit different, we shine best when we’ve slowly built rapport. Take your time and do this at your pace but always stall just outside your comfort zone. The more you make contact, the more comfortable you will be.
- Appeal to their ego and their desire to do good for others. Tell them how they’ve helped you if they have. Let them know their work is important to you. If they know they’ve already helped you in some way, they will be more willing to help you further.
- Be willing to help your future mentor as well. This is a two-sided relationship, the mentor may be ahead of you in their journey but good relationships are built on reciprocity, just be helpful.
Mentoring for Introverts Changing Your Mindset
I’m an introvert. The last thing I want to do is sit around sharing all my vulnerabilities with someone I don’t know well. Still, there comes the point where you can’t go any further on your own.
For me, I believe in mentorships and coaching. I’ve already wasted a lot of time trying everything under the sun on my own. I need to know where I stand and how to get where I want to go. I don’t need to know where the online experts think I might be. If you can relate to this mindset, you’re ready for help. The more you fight it the longer it, will take to realize your dreams. Don’t deprive yourself any longer, find your mentor!
“I wish you the best of all possible journeys and the courage to speak softly.” Susan Cain
In part two of this post, The Mentoring Process, I’m making a case for mentoring because it’s the fastest and most empowering way to change. If you want to realize success, find a mentor. Stay tuned for part two where I break down exactly how to find a mentor and how to become a mentor. This breakdown is introvert-friendly so don’t fret. You can work with a mentor that’s perfect for you.
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