Welcome back to our guest post series, dear readers!
This month, I’d like you to welcome Greek translator and interpreter Vasiliki Prestidge, from Greek to Me Translations.
Translators and the secret power of introversion
“Not enough classroom participation.”
“She has the answers to the questions, but she never puts her hand up. The other children are not benefiting.”
“She’s excellent, but she has to try harder to share.”
My parents always received the same feedback from my teachers.
The thing is, there was nothing wrong with me. I was simply an introvert.
There’s so much negativity attached to introversion. So many misunderstandings. Decades later, I am still an introvert. I am also a translator, interpreter, blogger, consultant and founder of Greek to Me Translations. Did my introversion stop me from becoming who I am today? No, to the contrary. It has pushed me in the right direction.
But let’s take it from the start. Reading this, you are probably a translator too. And you may consider yourself an introvert too. Do you feel like not going out, talking to people, or picking up the phone? Are you terrified of conferences, and making contacts during events? Welcome to the world of introversion. Hey, it’s really not that bad.
I want to clarify that I use the word ‘introversion’ within the context of MBTI, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. Many of you might be familiar with it, some not. In this framework, introversion is not about shyness. It’s about energy. Some people take their energy from others (extroverts) and some from within themselves (introverts). Think of the sunflower; it always turns to the sun. Now think of a cactus; it conserves its energy within it and requires few external stimuli.
Extroversion doesn’t make you better and neither does introversion. However, what makes you the best is a balance of both traits. Naturally, you are more comfortable with one of the two personality preferences. But perhaps, your job or culture has pushed you toward adopting features of the opposite side. These are your coping mechanisms and they are great. They turn you into a fully-grown personality.
But these definitions are not about putting people in boxes and locking them there. They constitute a common language offering you the opportunity to understand yourself, accept your gaps and find ways to develop. Isn’t that liberating?
There are two tools that can help you identify your preferences. MBTI Step I gives you a first taste of your preferences. MBTI Step II allows your palate to discover the full range of tastes. Maybe you know you like fish in general, but you might not like salmon or maybe you cannot eat scallops.
Similarly, there are different facets to introversion. Maybe you are an introvert who enjoys running their business from home, on their own, but you don’t mind initiating conversation with potential clients at events. Maybe you feel uncomfortable getting to events by yourself, but once you are there, you’re fine. Or, you find it difficult to initiate conversation, but once someone starts speaking with you, you cannot stop talking.
Introversion is far more complex than we think, and it certainly doesn’t put you in an inferior position. Did you know that introverts make the perfect freelance entrepreneurs and great leaders? Introverts thrive in solitude. They read others and they can listen. I mean they can properly listen.
Then thinking of marketing ‒ an important side of running a business ‒ social media has empowered introverted entrepreneurs to share without feeling exhausted. And did you know introverts are better with social media? That’s because they focus on the internal ideas and feelings which means they are more likely to process before publishing. And that sometimes is truly valuable.
But of course, having the best of both worlds requires effort. The first step to achieving balance is acceptance. Accept you are an introvert and that that’s OK. Then, you invest in understanding your introversion. Everyone is different. We all come from different backgrounds and cultures. Sometimes, a temporary life event could be impacting your core personality preferences. So, self-awareness is key.
Then, you can start learning. And you can learn from extroverts. Think of those instances where being an extrovert could benefit you. Do you have gaps? Identify your goals and keep them in a notebook. This can become your extroversion workbook. The important thing to remember is that you can’t do too much too soon. And by that, I mean take it one step at a time.
For example, if your biggest challenge in running your business is networking with potential clients at conferences or trade fairs, then start small. Go to a local meet-up. Find an event with fewer people. Then, you scale up. Find your “event-buddy”; someone you go to events with. But be careful as this is dangerous. You may end up talking only to your “event-buddy” and that’s not helpful.
And remember, you are definitely not alone in this. I have a secret suspicion that most translators are introverts. So, give yourself a pat on the back. Don’t forget your natural preferences. Allow yourself quiet, me-time. It’s how you thrive.
Do you feel exhausted after a 2-day conference? I’ll let you into a secret: most people do. Don’t beat yourself up. You have the secret power of introversion. Own it.
About the author
Vasiliki Prestidge is a Greek into English and English into Greek translator and interpreter. She specialises in legal, marketing and psychometrics. She is an MBTI Step I and Step II qualified practitioner. She is the founder of Greek to Me Translations and blogs on www.grtome.com/blog. She often gives webinars and talks in conferences and she enjoys networking. (Believe it or not, she is an introvert). You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
4 thoughts on “Guest post: The power of introversion”
Very true Vasiliki! As an introvert, I agree with you with all my heart. There’s a lot of internal “work” to be done the moment an introvert decides to change but acceptance is the first step, perhaps the most difficult one. 🙂 Congrats for your work and good luck with everything.
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Hi Magda. Thank you for your comment! Everyone has a lot of internal work to do, including extroverts. Realising that, may help you and all of us. There are things extroverts can learn from introverts. For example, listening, paying attention, thinking before speaking, reflecting, allowing others space to express themselves. And I wouldn’t see that work as ‘change’. I think that the innate, fundamental personality preferences of humans don’t change. I see it as development, understanding of self and others.
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Thanks for putting this into words. I’m a literary translator working at home, and this totally suits me. Some days when I’m bored with my own company and think I’d be better off going out to meet people, I just have to remember times when I’ve gone to translators’ gatherings, or, worse, fiction writers’ gatherings, and felt like the square peg. Like you say, introverts are good at thinking before they speak. That’s me. But it also means I rarely speak because the extroverts are filling the space. Thanks again for this piece.
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You’re welcome. You make a good point by saying “extroverts are filling the space”. That’s why it’s important to be aware of others around us and ask them for their thoughts. Every single one of us regardless of personality preferences, has a lot of inner work to do and understanding the self leads to understanding others and their needs.
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