Laura Petrolino

Communications Lessons from an Extrovert

By: Laura Petrolino | April 29, 2014 | 
20

Communications Lessons from an ExtrovertBy Laura Petrolino

As an extrovert, I have a deep need to be the center of attention.

That’s why all the attention being focused on introvert’s qualities as communications professionals, especially in the digital space (although well-deserved), leaves me with the need to stand up for my people.

Extroverts are natural communicators.

Interaction and connection are like crack for us – the more we have it, the more we want it.

This natural tendency to seek and build relationships makes communications a field we are naturally drawn to. Online or offline, we don’t care.

We simply crave interaction with other humans.

However, like all traits, with the benefits also come drawbacks.

Throughout the years I have had to figure out how to best keep my extroversion in check so it works for me, and not against me.

The following are three lessons from the adventure that is my life, which anyone, regardless of personality tendencies, can use to up their digital communications game.

The Life of the Party

I’m the person you want to hang out with at a party, simply because I love meeting and interacting with new people and can talk to anyone, about anything, forever.

Online, this translates into the same fearlessness when it comes to reaching out and connecting to others. If I see a mutual interest, a way I can help, or some other common thread, you better believe I’m going to be reaching out to talk to you.

Lesson: Challenge yourself to maximize both real life and online interactions by reaching out first.

People are often hesitant to connect because they fear rejection. A part of each of us will always be that insecure seventh grader, afraid no one will like us.

This fear of rejection holds us back from making amazing connections both online and off.

These are connections that might be valuable for our business, client, or as professional peers and colleagues.

Learn to move past your own insecurities and see each interaction as an opportunity instead of a pain point.

Be open and focused on how you might be able to support their interests.

So few people express genuine interest in others that you’ll be amazed at the response when you do. It’s a win for everyone involved.

Extra credit: Be a connector. When you meet people, introduce them to others. Expanding the circle of relationships only creates good things. I try to make at least a couple of new connections each week.

Brain to Mouth at Light Speed

Extroverts are fast thinkers and able to respond quickly to almost anything. Unfortunately, this often leaves us lacking a filter.

We tend to think aloud, so there is often not the best sieve between what goes into our brain and comes out of our mouth.

Lesson: I’ve had to work really hard to develop a self-filtering system because I could babble on in a train of thought forever. This is particularly important in digital communications, when not only are your words out there forever, but they are also in a sea of lots of other words, messages, images, blah, blah, blah, etc. (which is what they become to other people if they are not targeted and specific).

If you want people to pay attention to what you say, it needs to be a bit more purposeful.

The same is true for organizational brands.

Strategic communications are about being selective and having a goal in mind.

One of the biggest mistakes organizations make in their digital communications is not having a goal.

Always ask yourself:

  • What are the primary and secondary goals of this outreach?
  • How will this help or hinder our connection/trust/relationship with our customer?

If you cannot connect a tangible “why” to your communication, then you probably should just zip it. People will care a lot more about what you say when what you say is targeted and meaningful.

Extra credit: Create a personality document for your brand so you are really clear on the voice and personality you want to project in all of your communications (both internal and external).

Brainstorming Like a Boss

Because extroverts process things externally, it makes us excellent brainstormers.

Take me for example: I am not afraid to share my thoughts with others. In fact, I need to share in order to process them myself.

This openness and fearlessness is vital to help us lead teams to explore new possibilities, transform, improve, and innovate.

Lesson: Learn to stop self-filtering your ideas all the time. This isn’t canceling out the filtering issue I mentioned above, but instead further reinforcing that effective communications tactics depend on the priority goal.

When in a collaborative and structured brainstorming session, challenge yourself to say things that come to mind immediately. When on your own, try to simply verbalize your thoughts.

This is an especially helpful skill when you are part of virtual teams like ours.

Fearless brainstorming is a must because we don’t have the luxury of genius water cooler chitchatting or casual office flybys. We have to make them happen.

Try hopping on Skype for a few minutes, text some ideas back and forth, and find other ways to share things that make sense for your team.

Remember, brainstorming isn’t about being right – it is about getting ideas on the table. If it is too difficult to go from brain to mouth at first, start with brain to pen. Write down all your ideas and then share them.

Extra-credit: Encourage others to do the same by asking deeper questions and challenging ideas (both yours and others).

I always like to play the “but why?” game to help distill an idea and get people to think deeper.

In true extrovert style, I have said too much and gone over my allowed word count. So in lieu of a conclusion I’ll leave you with the best cheer ever and a personalized one I just made up to encourage you to explore your extroverted side.

Ready?

What will you do? Get out of my shell!

How will you do it? Be proud and yell!

Get out of my shell, stand proud and yell!

(I don’t actually encourage yelling, but it rhymes. Please use indoor voices.)

About Laura Petrolino


Laura Petrolino is chief marketing officer for Spin Sucks, an integrated marketing communications firm that provides strategic counsel and professional development for in-house and agency communications teams. She is a weekly contributor for their award-winning blog of the same name. Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.