I claim to be a shy introvert. I hate being center of attention, I have a hard time coming up with things to say. But I’m really good at observing and I have an understanding of what people are thinking and what they’re going to do. I’m not weird, I can’t be fixed, I am who I am. So how did I end up with a job in which I have to sell? It’s one of those things that just sort of fall into your lap and you have to either continue moving forward or melt into a puddle of nerves.
Handling groups of people, speaking in front of even the smallest group sometimes leaves me anxious. It depends on the importance of what I have to say, the relevance to the conversation that determines how uncomfortable I’m going to be. The reason for me is, I have an inability to think quickly enough to move a conversation forward. That makes me a much more effective writer, because I can take my time to craft my message, think it through and re-edit until my fingers read. I’m a much better writer. Go figure. Which leads me to prefer sending emails to making phone calls. So why in the world would I accept a position that requires me to sell, to talk to strangers on the phone and ask them to join our newest program?
Because I realized that if I were to move forward as a writer, I needed to interact with people I don’t know. To learn to be comfortable in situations that leave me anxious, you need to throw yourself at them rather than run from them. For me that is all about making phone calls. I’m the type of person who feels like I should always have a reason to contact someone by phone. And if there’s no reason, I make no call. And yes that means I very rarely call someone just to chat. Though if they call me just to talk, I’m open and a little chatty. Approach me fine, but don’t make me approach you. Yeah, it might be the whole fear of reject or maybe it’s just the fear of I don’t know what to say. But whatever the reason, placing myself in uncomfortable situations is my way of becoming stronger. Getting familiar with something rather than run from it should then increase the size of my comfort zone.
That’s why I took a job that seems so out of my ability and skill level. You can’t change your basic personality, but you can learn to work around the traits that hinder your success, you can adapt and quite possibly grow out of some of the more difficult ones to live with. I may never dump the shyness, I may always be terrified by the sheer act of calling strangers to sell a product, but maybe not. Maybe with practice, I’ll get comfortable and my zone will be wider. And maybe then I can sell myself and my books and live the dream I keep dreaming.