An Introvert's Guide to Terrifying Social Situations: Part Three

Image Source

How to Rock Discussion Groups

By Kathryn Schuyler

Dr. Jennifer Kahnweiler’s book The Introverted Leader shares how introverts can used the 4 P’s (Prepare, Presence, Push, Practice) to become more effective leaders. But after looking at some social situations through the lens of the 4 P’s, I think Kahnweiler’s tips can help us become more effective humans.

In Part One and Part Two of this blog, I looked at how the 4 P’s can help introverts rock uncomfortable parties and difficult phone calls. Let’s look at one more situation that gets my introverted knees knockin’:

Discussion Groups.

Now, I’m currently a college student, and an English major no less, so discussion-based groups are a part of my daily life. These include things like classes, book clubs, workshops, and meetings. The trouble with discussions is that people genuinely want you to speak up, so much that sometimes they even call on you. Egads. So how can we keep ourselves from spouting complete nervous gibberish?

  • Prepare: Chances are there’s some material that is going to be discussed, so study it ahead of time. Don’t just read: take notes, underline and evaluate. In my first college seminar, I went through every assigned poem and wrote down a few major opinions that I could bring up on the fly. If you have a really hard time with discussion, set a goal for how many times you want your voice to be heard during the session.
  • Presence: Here’s the time to break out your introvert superpower: listening. Look engaged with the discussion (Possible Fact: people who space out get called on more) and ponder other people’s responses. Pay attention to the flow of conversation so you know when to chime in.
  • Push: Here’s the hard part-getting your mouth to work when you want it to. You have all of your material, so just go for it. Don’t be afraid to disagree with someone: a variety of opinions always makes for a more fruitful discussion. And if the leader of your discussion poses a question that nobody’s answering, suck it up and be the first to say something. The first comment never has to be profound, but it gets things going. Believe me, your leader and fellow discussers will be grateful that someone had the courage to get the ball rolling.
  • Practice: Discussion is something that comes up periodically in our lives, whether it is a once-a-week book club or a monthly meeting. Each time, challenge yourself to share more and set a higher goal for how often you’ll speak up. Work on forming thoughtful opinions on other things that you’d be willing to air in front of a group.

Now you, my friend, are discussion dynamite.

Be sure to read Dr. Jennifer Kahnweiler’s The Introverted Leader for an in-depth study on the 4 P’s and how to put them into practice in your workplace.

What other social situations freak you out? Comment below!