Do You Have an Introverted Preference? Your Guide to Recognition Superstardom!

By Sarah McVanel, Chief Recognition Officer, Greatness Magnified

“How do you recognize others when you’re introverted?”

This was a great question left in the chat of a recent virtual keynote. And not an uncommon one!

image of Pac-Man chasing ghosts in the gameFirst, a note on introversion versus extroversion. It’s all about where you get your energy. It’s not “extroverts are people-people, and introverts aren’t.” Nope. It’s that those with an extroverted preference walk around the world gobbling energy through interactions with others like Pac-Man. For folks with an introverted preference, too little processing time and too much group time, particularly small talk with “a bunch of randoms” (an expression my kids will probably cringe at as it’s no doubt out of vogue) is an energy-zapper like those ghosts that are Pac-Man’s demise.

Before moving on, notice I didn’t say “Extroverts” and “Introverts”. You’re not one or the other like one-dimensional beings (or characters in an arcade game). We are on a continuum of where we get our energy, with introversion on one extreme and extroversion on the other end.

So, back to the original question, or at least a version of it: How do you keep your energy up and does recognition zap it?

The short answer at each end of the energy continuum:

  • Introverted preference – the more you know your folks and can give that recognition one-on-one, recognition can actually fuel your energy
  • Extroverted preference – the more you can spread recognition around and feel the buzz it creates, the more it will fuel your energy.

Now that is the overly simplified answer. I make it to establish this truth: Your energy preference does not make you good or bad at recognition. There will be some contexts where you’ll find it easier and more rewarding than others.

Let’s dive a little deeper.

Introversion and Recognition: Let Me Tell You About My Hub…

image of Sarah and Mark McVanel wavingMight be surprised to know, if you watch our antics on my IG page, that my husband leans toward the introverted preference side of the energy continuum. He’s super friendly, easy to get to know, and always quick with a joke (often of the dad joke variety…”A for effort” darling). Many people assume he’s on the extroversion side of the continuum. However, let me tell you, after standing in front of a room full of teens teaching business, he needs his drive home by himself to recharge. The trifecta of exhaustion would be to spend his spare with new kids covering for teachers in an “on call”, attend a staff meeting, and then attend a work social. Let’s just say he sleeps hard on nights like that. His happy place: on his excavator in our backyard listening to music, stopping long enough to have meals with the people he lives with and loves most.

Not everything meets the eye. Energy can be masked by effort.

He knows as a teacher, though, he needs to positively reinforce in his classroom so students can learn, and be a listening ear for his fellow teachers. He recognizes in small and big ways all day long. He’s really great at recognition. (He’s so tuned into it…one guess why…that when he doesn’t get it, it depletes his energy and motivation more so than any effort he has to expend.)

So we’ve established that we all can give recognition, regardless of energy preference. So how do you, my introversion preference peeps, do so without depleting your tank? Here are some ideas.

image of a calendar sitting on the keyboard of a laptop with a clock and pen to schedule a meeting1. Schedule It

When do you feel most energized? If you have a recognition practice (such as writing thank you cards), do it before you’ve expended all your energy for the day.

2. Team Meetings

Build recognition into the first minute or two of team meetings so that it becomes a regular part of it. Encourage others to kick it off so it’s not all down to you.

3. One-on-One

Your energy is highest one-on-one so lean into recognition in this form. Frankly, you can’t go wrong – you don’t embarrass the folks who are too shy to receive it publicly, plus who doesn’t like to have a personalized kudos from someone directly?

4. Keep a Record

Some folks tell me after a keynote that they remember what to appreciate about someone by making a note of it when they see it (in a notes app, in their work journal, etc.). It dials down the pressure to come up with something on the spot.

5. Resource Gossip

Say nice things about someone behind their back, and let the good gossip train carry it to that person.

image of a bulletin board for everyone to give and receive recognition6. Peer-to-Peer

Encourage recognition to be everyone’s job. Create an MS Team’s kudos thread, turn a physical bulletin board into a team recognition space, and pass on grateful client/patient cards for others to read. Enable spaces – passive and active – that encourage everyone to F.R.O.G. -Forever Recognize Others’ Greatness ™.

No Limiting Beliefs

When we see why we cannot do something, our solution-curious brains don’t have a job to do. When we say, “hum…how might I”, it allows you to noodle (my British mom’s word for ponder) on how something might be possible.

Everyone needs to know they matter to someone else. Your closest colleagues, peers, and direct reports need to know they matter to you. Don’t let your energy preference be a barrier to connection. Let it be a tool for insight to help fuel the best way for you to be successful and more satisfied in recognizing others.

Curious about how to keep fuelling recognition habits? Here is a program that might help.

FROG on friends!

We have lots more yummy ideas on how to fuel recognition:

Disclaimer/Humble Brag Moment: 100% of this content was human-generated (by us folks here at Greatness Magnified). We are committed to authorship integrity and will inform you what percent, if any, is AI generated.

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

– Mother Teresa

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Organizational Development, Purolator Inc.

"Sarah nailed it!  She worked with the planning group to learn about the organization, the audience, the desired key messages and integrated it seamlessly into her keynote. Her energy was contagious! We received rave reviews of this portion of our event and Sarah was able to speak to all members of our organization in a way that motivated them to recognize others everyday. Our executives were extraordinarily pleased and integrated FROGging into their recent board meeting. Purolator is grateful to Sarah for dropping the pebble and we continue to see the ripples from this session across the organization. Working with Tami was phenomenal and the supports were easy to integrate to ensure the session went well. Thanks to you both!!"
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Director, The Center for People in Organizational Development, Sheridan College

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