There are many different kinds of personalities. You can be an introvert, an extrovert and anything in between. Recognizing your traits and being able to learn how to use them to your advantage is very important, especially within the very social business of music.
Some might be surprised to find out that many artists who are thrust into high-profile roles are actually very introverted, and have a hard time operating in social situations.
How can you recognize an introvert? Some personality traits include:
Being timid, quiet or reserved
Disinterest in being the center of attention
Enjoying one on one conversations
Having closer relationships with fewer friends
Enjoying spending time alone
Struggling with change
Working in smaller and quiet spaces
On the other hand, personality traits of extroverts include:
Being expressive and outgoing
Loving receiving attention or performing
Enjoying group conversations
Having a higher quantity of friends, some with less strong bonds
Accepting change easily
Enjoying public speaking
Opening up easily
These traits will not apply to you or your personality type 100 percent of the time. Many introverts exhibit extroverted behaviors, and vice-versa. It’s not an exact science. Someone who is introverted is not necessarily shy or quiet or has social anxiety - although that is often the case. Introverts can be outgoing and social and quiet and thoughtful all at once, but it is a great stepping stone to understanding a personality type that may be opposite to yours.
Avicii's tragic story is one example of an introvert and the effect performing had on him as a person. He was an obvious introvert who preferred working in a studio over performing and interacting with giant crowds, which led to his decision to retire from touring in 2016.
Awareness is key. If you don’t understand what effect your personality has on your life, you may encounter problems. For instance, if thinking about performing causes you stress and you don't understand where the stress comes from, you can’t address it. As soon as you realize what triggers your stress, you can openly talk about it and make necessary changes to lower stress. What begins as stress can become a bigger issue when it’s not recognized.
During 2019's International Music Summit, Avicii's father, Klas Bergling, spoke out about the importance of recognizing and treating the early signs of deteriorating mental health, anxiety and depression for performing artists and those working in the music industry.
How can you become more social as an introvert?
Recognizing that you are an introvert is the first step, but realizing that it goes against your nature to go out and socialize is the next, especially for those pursuing a career in music. Knowing you need to attend a conference or networking event can make some feel sick to their stomachs.
Try to remember how inspiring it can be to spend time with other people. We all know from experience how hard and nerve-wracking it can be to walk into a room full of strangers, but remember that we all know this experience, and the rewards are much greater than the risks. Remind yourself of the reasons why you are attending this event, and also be gentle with yourself. You don't have to force yourself to be social with everyone, and if you feel like you are hitting your limit, you can always leave. Before you make that choice, remember what you can learn from others if you give them a chance to get to know you, and how refreshed and inspired you can feel.
Some tips to make the experience easier:
Attend the event with a friend.
Plan some time after to recharge.
Think of some conversation starters. Ask them about their passions, or why they are at the event, where they are from and what they do for a living.
Smile at others - even strangers! It makes you more approachable.
Talk to those you truly connect with. You don’t have to keep on talking with a person that is draining your energy. Politely thank them for their time and move on.
Familiarize yourself with grounding exercises and pick one that fits you best. The best exercise is the one you can do everywhere.
Communicate about what you need with people close to you and your team.
If you notice someone exhibiting social introvert behaviors, how can you make them feel more welcome?
If you see someone behaving like a wallflower, try and approach them and initiate a real conversation. Tell them about yourself and try to help them feel welcome.
Ask: What do you do for a living? Why are you there? What would you like to gain out of this event?
If you find that they are having trouble answering direct questions, you can also try to share more about yourself to ease them into sharing more about themselves.
Be honest and truly interested. An introvert can spot a fake story or a faked interest miles away.
Find a common ground.
Be okay with silence, and respect their silent time. They might just be thinking about what to say or answer with.
Give them time to recharge.
Ask them what they need.
Respect their boundaries, just like you want others to respect yours.
Be enthusiastic about their ideas and help them promote it to you.
Listen to learn and understand, not to react. Let them know you really understand what they say.
It might take some time and some extra questions, but don’t be pushy.
Keep in mind:
An introvert doesn’t choose to be like this. It is a personality trait.
Realize introverts are deeply introspective.
Introverts do best in one-on-one conversations.
They sometimes might appear to be acting. They’re not, but are just really feeling uncomfortable.
Develop your introvert inside of you.
We are so much stronger when we combine our strengths. When you combine the strength of an introvert with the strength of an extravert you’ve got a golden combination. We’re in this together. Let us start with helping each other by becoming aware, look out for and be there for each other.
Fenny Nadorp is an entertainment and creative industry life coach, trainer and speaker based in The Netherlands. Find her on Instagram here and contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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