S2E8 - Why Introverts are Good Listeners & How That Can Be Destructive for Us
Introverts tend to share similar characteristics and those characteristics can make them really good listeners. (Obviously, this doesn’t apply to all introverts.) Being a good listener is a skill not everyone has and if you can master that skill, it can help you in both your professional and personal life. However, when stuck in the listener role, this can lead to some problems. So, in this episode, I go over those issues and what I plan to do to be a better advocate for myself.
Some parts of the transcript may be edited for better readability, but the content remains the same. Mostly removed duplicate words, vocal filler words, and added/removed some words for clarification.
Hey, everyone! This is Meliza, and I'm the Talkative Introvert.
This episode is about why introverts are good listeners and how that can be destructive for us. This kind of stemmed from something that happened to me at work recently. I'll talk about that a little later. So, I've always been told I am a good listener from a young age. Close family members and friends, have always told me that I was a good listener, or am a good listener, and they appreciate their time with me and me just lending my ear to them. And for the most part, I do genuinely care about the person I'm talking to, which is why I make sure that I do listen to their problems or their issues, or whatever they want to talk about, doesn't necessarily have to always be problems. And I know how it feels to not be heard. So, I like being someone people can talk to. And I like being that person for them, if they don't have other people to talk to. That actually was one of my original career choices. I wanted to be a therapist, specifically a family therapist. If you listen to my other episodes, you know that I didn't do that. I just ended up changing that because I didn't think I can handle listening to other people's problems constantly. And then as a therapist, you kind of have to be available to your clients. And it's just a little too much. So, I went a different route. But because people tell me I'm a good listener and whatever, that was originally what my career choice was going to be.
So you might be asking, why are introverts good listeners? Why do they tend to be good listeners? Obviously, not all introverts are the same. We're not all good listeners, but we tend to be good listeners. Just a quick reminder, introversion just means that we gain energy through isolation. Whereas extroverts gain energy by being around people. So just because you're an introvert, doesn't necessarily mean that you're a good listener. But introverts do tend to share similar characteristics. And those similarities are the reason why we typically make good listeners. Just to list a few, but introverts tend to be people who don't like being center of attention. They tend to be quieter and more reserved, they tend to be more observant, they tend to think things through before speaking, they tend to want to process information silently to themselves before responding, they tend to sometimes be the last to speak, because they're listening and considering what everyone else has to say. In my opinion, these are all really great traits. And people can definitely benefit from learning how to be a good listener. I definitely think that if you can learn this skill and master this skill, you'll definitely go a long way in your career and in your personal relationships, which sounds funny, but some people just don't know how to listen. And that can be really bad for them. But what that said, because introverts tend to have these traits, this can sometimes set us back and affect us negatively.
So to my main point, why can this be destructive for us as introverts? And this could apply to extroverts, too. Maybe extroverts who are shy or are not as loud as most other extroverts or not as boisterous or use their voices often, I guess, you could say. Sorry, that makes me makes it sound like I don't like extroverts and extroverts are just these loud, rambunctious group. But I'm trying to say that extroverts tend to be more outspoken, and more willing to voice their opinions and whatnot. So that's what I was trying to get at. Sorry. Anyways, like I said, this came about because of something I experienced recently at work, and it made me think about how often certain things happen to me, because I tend to listen more than speak out more. So, I'm going to share some things I've noticed but I also did some research and went to Reddit to see if others have similar experiences. And sure enough, they do. So if you're not a Reddit user, but are curious about introverts and some of the issues that we face or just finding like-minded group, the introvert Reddit page is pretty interesting. It's nice to go through because sometimes especially if you're the only introvert in your extrovert family, or there's not a lot of introverts around you, it's kind of nice to see a group of people online that are very similar to you and share the same characteristics and the same struggles. And some of the memes are just pretty funny, too. Anyways, so the first point that I wanted to make, if you tend to listen more than you speak, then most likely you also tend to not stand out in the crowd. And I really resonate with that last point I made where introverts tend to be the last to speak because they want to know everyone's input first, before responding. There's been times where a meeting was about to end but didn't get to share my input, and I end up just providing feedback after the meeting via email, instead of engaging in the conversation and being a part of the conversation. This is especially hard when you have people who tend to talk a lot, and people who just have to absolutely say something, every time. I've literally worked with people who constantly cut people off, and who have participated in a conversation even though their input is either complete trash, or sometimes absolutely unnecessary. It's just for some reason, they have to have their voice heard. And it makes it seem like they just can't get enough of their own voice or something. But you know, that makes it really hard for people to get a word in when they're constantly just talking and not providing any valuable input. And because you don't stand out, sometimes you end up being dismissed altogether. Because you are not constantly engaged in the conversation, sometimes your input just gets faded in the background, which happens to me quite often. Well, I don't want to say quite often. It's not so much now. But it did happen to me a lot. And it still does happen to me sometimes. It's honestly really quite annoying, because there's been times where I'll suggest something, people dismiss it. But then someone else will say basically the same thing again later. And I'm just like I just said that. I literally just said that earlier. And it really pisses me off. But that's kind of what happens when you don't stand out in the crowd, I guess. You just get dismissed. And that's not just with work. That's happened in my personal life too where I'll get dismissed, but the other person will say the exact same thing. And everyone's like, "Oh, that's a great idea. Good idea. Bla bla bla." So it's not just work. It's personal, too. So because you don't stand out and you end up being dismissed, then that kind of leads to people also just blatantly forgetting about you. And this is something that I was talking about earlier, that led to me wanting to do this episode. And so, people forgetting about you. So, an example they have is like not getting the recognition that I deserve. And this happened a couple of years ago now. I had to move to a different project.
So if you know anything about like IT work, it's by projects. So, there's different projects. So, you don't necessarily stay in the same building or the same area for a long time. It just depends on what project you are needed. And so, I moved over to a new one. And when I moved over, my director left. He quit literally the next day to go to a new job. My manager, not my director. So he tried to train me all in one day, how to do audits. And I've never done audits before. This is like all new to me, I want to learn something new. So he tried to cram all that in, in one day. And then he left for his new job. And so, I was left to just figure out how to audit by myself. So, I took it upon myself to read the book that he gave me. So I guess he was nice enough to at least leave me a book, which honestly wasn't all that helpful. I ended up just watching YouTube videos and doing research online on how to do an audit and how to do it properly, like different methodologies for it. And so, I was the one who set up the templates and the different documents for it and all that stuff. But because I was new, I wasn't the one to present I guess to the client at the time. And so the interim manager who basically got all the recognition for standing up this new process, was the one that shared it with everyone and during an all staff he got all the kudos and he basically got the pat on the back for all this stuff. Even though he wasn't the one who actually did all the legwork. It was me. And that kind of made me really upset. But I didn't say anything at the time because I just don't really care either. Like, I don't care about getting kudos in front of everybody. I'd rather just get a silent kudos. Because during the all staff they put it on the PowerPoint presentation for everyone to see. And then they make you stand up and just like wave everyone. So I was glad I didn't have to do that. But I wish he didn't get the recognition because he really didn't do anything. And then another thing that happens to me is I get mistaken a lot for my other co-worker. And I don't know if it's because we're both Asian or what, because we're also the same age. And apparently, we sound similar too because we get mistaken for each other during meetings. And I get mistaken for her, too. When I do something, they're like, "Oh. Good job, so and so." I'll just call her Sue. Like, "Good job, Sue. I didn't know that was something you do." And then be like, wait, I'm the one that said that. I'm the one that suggested that. But she would get the recognition because they would just always mistake me for. And I think maybe because she is more outspoken. And she's not afraid to speak up in meetings, which I definitely admire her for. But it is kind of annoying that we get mistaken for each other. But the thing that really started me to outline this episode, and get it started was something that happened like a couple of weeks ago. And we have this meeting, this manager's meeting that we have weekly. And we present status updates on certain stuff. And so there's this one thing, it's called process improvements that I helped facilitate and stuff. And the person responsible for providing his status update, forgot to mention me. Because he said, "Oh, I met with so and so, and so and so to get this ball running..." or whatever he said. It doesn't matter what he said. But basically, he mentioned other people, but forgot me, even though I was the one who created the meeting invite and facilitated the meeting, and took notes during the meeting and followed up after the meeting. But he forgot to say my name. And I remember just IMing my manager. And I was like, "Oh, I guess I don't exist." Which is kind of a running joke. Which is kind of sad actually. Not that I think about it. But I do. I IM her lot when people forget to mention me in meetings. And I always tell her like, "Oh, I guess I don't exist this week", or "I don't exist today." She's really sweet about it, though. She's like, "I see you." I was like, "Thank you. I'm glad someone does."
But that was kind of really upsetting. But that became a running joke between me and my manager. I don't have to but I mean I ping her every time someone forgets to mention me. But that's okay. Because at the end of the day, she recognizes my work and that's really all that matters. Because she's the one responsible for my raises and stuff. So, it's okay. And I know I talked about work a lot, I think because I spend so much time at work, rather than doing personal stuff, because my personal life is pretty quiet. And I tend to have hobbies I do on my own. But it does happen in your personal life to you. I'm sure other people deal with this, not just at the workplace, but at home too, especially if you're like the only introvert or you're not the most boisterous person or the most outspoken person. So on a more personal note, another issue that you may come across is that you get stuck in the listener role. Because introverts tend to need time to respond, they don't always engage quite as frequently as the speaker and then they end up in the listener role. And sometimes they get stuck there, especially if they end up talking to someone who is more interested in talking about themselves rather than talking about the other person. And I've known people definitely who would rather talk about themselves than about you. And they're more focused on their own issues and their own problems, and they just want someone to listen to them. However, the problem with that also is that people can take advantage of you. I read this Reddit posts that someone was asking on the introvert Reddit page. Like how to turn a conversation around so they can have a chance to talk about themselves. And the reason why this person was asking for advice, is because they're feeling kind of lonely. I always have a problem while saying the word 'lonely'. But any ways, so this person was feeling kind of lonely, because the conversation with his or her friend always ended up being one sided. A lot of the people that commented, kind of just said that if that person's not willing to listen to you, and it was always about them, then they're probably not a good friend. But I obviously don't know the situation. And I don't know the person that this person is talking to. Like I don't know this person's friend or anything. But I do understand how that can feel when the other person you're talking to is constantly just always about them. And they don't ask about how you're doing, or like, what's new with you, or what have you. So I can understand why the Reddit poster was feeling lonely, because they didn't get a chance to talk about themselves.
And in the long run, when you get stuck in this listener role, and people are taking advantage of you, then what does this person experiences that you don't get to talk about yourself, you end up being consumed by other people's problems, and then you don't get to vent about your problems. And constantly listening to other people's problems can be too much, which is the point I was making earlier about not want to be a therapist anymore after college, was that listening to other people's problems definitely can be daunting. And it can be really hard on you. And so if you're not even a therapist, but people come to your friends and family constantly, and you're constantly hearing about their problems, that can be a lot for you, especially because you're not therapists. And that's not your job. But that's why therapy is pretty good. I like therapy, because it is all about you. And I personally don't like talking about myself that often. And I don't like talking about my problems with people. Because I don't want to bother people with them. And because I know what it's like to constantly hear about people's problems. So, I tend to not do that. So therapy is nice, because you kind of have to talk about yourself, because what's the point of going to therapy if you're not going to talk about yourself? And it's nice, because it's like all about you. And they are not tied to your personal life. And they're not tied to your family and your friends. Hopefully, they're not. Like you should get therapists who doesn't know your family and friends. If you have some personal connection with them, you should probably change your therapist. It's kind of funny, though. Because I was talking to my mom about it. Because her work, in order for her to like file for FMLA, which I forgot what it stands for. But basically, it's just leave time after my dad died. And in order for her to take that additional leave time, additional to bereavement, she had to go to therapy to get a sign off from the therapist. And she said she didn't like it. Because the person wasn't personally connected to her. And that they're only listening because that's their job, but not because they genuinely care about her because they're not a family or friend. Which I thought was kind of funny, because that's exactly why I like therapy, because they're not family and they're not friends, and they're not connected in any way to your personal life. So, I thought that was kind of funny that my mom didn't like therapy because of that reason. And she'd prefer just to talk to somebody else about it. Which kind of reminds me of my psych professor. And he is an actual therapist, too. He just teaches because I think he said he just likes to teach. So, that's why he teaches but his full-time job is an actual family counselor and a family therapist. But he basically started the class off by saying that therapists are basically just overpaid listeners, which I thought was kind of funny, because I was like, umm then why am I going to school for all this stuff? But it was an interesting class. It teaches you how to listen which is weird. But if you actually take the class, you'll understand how listening really is a skill, and not everyone has that skill. So those are kind of the reasons why being a good listener can be destructive for us. Because like I said, you don't tend to stand out, you end up being dismissed. People forget about you. You sometimes get stuck in the listener role. And when you do get stuck in the listener role, people can take advantage of you. Then you don't get to talk about yourself and then constantly listening to people's problems can end up being a little too much for you in the long run. I think understanding that and being aware of those issues can really help me in not only my professional life, but my personal life to be more of an advocate for myself when I tend to get stuck in a listener role or not getting the recognition I deserve and whatnot. And so there are things that I want to do to change that about myself and change how I present myself specifically at work. My personal life, it's not so bad. Because I do have like a small, close-knit group of friends. And they do listen to me. And they do ask me how I'm doing, and they do genuinely care about me. So this is more of an issue I have at work, unfortunately.
So the one of the great things about working from home, that has actually been very empowering, because when you attend a meeting, it's not so anxiety inducing. Because you're not in a room full of people. And you don't have to make eye contact with people. There aren't people who are staring at you. For the most part, we don't turn on our webcam, we only do our webcam for big all staff meetings. But genuinely, our director kind of only wants you to turn on your webcam, if you're the speaker for the all-staff meeting. And even with that, I didn't even turn mine on for the last one. And she didn't say anything. So, I think it's part of our policy too. I remember reading one of our bulletin boards that managers aren't supposed to force you to get onto camera, especially if you don't feel comfortable being on camera. So that's not something they can enforce anyways, which is great. Because I don't ever want to be on camera. I hardly ever want to go on camera. But anyways, some of the things I want to work on, especially at work, is to speak out more during meetings. I've been more prepared for meetings ahead of time, and I tried to get my voice in there. And some of the great things about teleworking, again, is that we use Microsoft Teams. And I think this is like all teleconferencing apps probably now. This is probably a feature in zoom, too. But you can raise your hand, which sounds funny, but basically, you just click and it says like, 'Raise your hand'. and then it puts a little hand on your icon. And it's cool, because then it'll notify the speaker and then the speaker will pause and then ask for your input. Like they'll say like, "Oh, I see you have your hand raised. What do you want to say?" And so that's been kind of nice. And another good thing is that, for my manager, like she does one on ones with all of her people in our group, which is really great. I think all managers should spend a time even if it's only 30 minutes to have a one on one for with each individual person in their department or in their team. Because it really allows them to speak out and not worry about other people in the room or whatever. And so, I've definitely been very outspoken with her. I have mentioned that I do get mistaken for other people. And they got mistaken with my co-worker that I was mentioning earlier, that I named Sue. And so she's aware of that, and she's aware of my issues and struggles. And I think she's the one who suggested this or maybe it was a manager previously how whenever you accomplish something to make note of it. So that by the end of the year when it's time for your an annual review, you already have all the list of your accomplishments so that you can be recognized for those things even if you don't want to be given kudos during the all staff or whatever, at least during your annual reviews where it really truly matters the most, in my opinion. So, I'm making sure that I'm doing that as well and letting my manager know when I'm not being recognized for something or people are forgetting about me or dismissing me or what have you. So, I'm definitely trying to be more outspoken at work. And it's just become so much easier now that we're teleworking because everything is not face to face. And I don't have someone constantly watching me or looking at me. And I don't know why that eye contact just makes me nervous. So being able to do it and just stare at a screen and not look at an actual person has been really helpful. So that's kind of what I'm trying to do at work is just use the tools that I have to help me be more recognized and have my input be valued and put out there and be part of the conversation. And then as well as being an advocate for myself and talking to my manager, when something doesn't seem right or if I'm not getting recognized for something, and someone else is getting the recognition for something that I should have gotten. Then on a more personal note, there have been times where I don't get to talk about myself or whoever I'm talking to, tends to talk about themselves more or are not as interested in talking about you. And that's really rare, but it does happen. And so when that does happen and I want to talk, I would literally just say, "Can I talk?"
But not in a rude way, which is kind of hard to do. Because it sounds rude when you want to say it, "Can I talk?" But that's something I want to work on too. Like, if they're not letting me talk, I want to try to be an advocate for myself and just say, "Can I please talk?" And also just being honest. Like, ask if I can talk to you. Ask if I can talk to you about my problems. Like literally ask a friend, or whoever you want to talk to, "If I can just talk about my problems?" or "Do you mind if I talk about this issue or this problem with you?" And I've also kind of tried to call someone out if they don't let you speak. I've only done it like a few times. I don't do that very often. Because that also sounds rude. But sometimes it's just kind of irritating, that someone doesn't let you speak. So I did it to someone, I forgot who I did it to. And they basically said that, they're basically happy that I did it, or glad I did it. Because they do tend to speak over people. And that's something that they want to work on, too. So I mean, it's kind of different for every person that you talk to. Because someone can take that as you being rude. But then other people can take it as constructive criticism. So it's kind of hard trying to do that in your personal life. But I do think that that's important for introverts who are people. I would just say people. People who tend to be in the listener role, just try to be more of an advocate for yourself, especially if you're coming across these issues I listed. But if you're a good listener, but you're good at speaking for yourself, and these don't really apply to you. And these aren't really problems for you. But if it is something that you tend to notice that you're not being recognized, you're not being valued for what you say, you're being dismissed and what have you, then definitely try to be an advocate for yourself. And that's something I'm trying to do. And it's not the easiest thing to do, obviously. I don't know if that's obvious, but it's not for me, at least. I don't tend to be an advocate for myself, but that's something I want to work on definitely. With all this said though, I know most of my listeners are family and friends. So I don't want people to think that they can't come to me anymore after this episode goes live. But I think it's more of the reminder that if you tend to be the person that speaks more, or if you tend to be the type of person who only reaches out to someone because you have a problem, try to recognize that and try to recognize if you are that person and try to recognize that you may be taking advantage of someone who's a good listener. And just take a moment to ask that person how they're doing. And take a moment to listen to that person. And encourage those people that are so willing to listen to you that you're willing to listen to them, too. Just because a person is a good listener and sometimes tends to want to listen more than speak, doesn't mean that they don't have anything to say. And it doesn't mean that they don't have problems that they may want to talk about to.
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