When I was still in school, I hated giving presentations. Not only did I have to speak in front of my classmates and teacher, but I dreaded the evaluation that came after. In my own mind, I already knew what I had done wrong, and how I was going to fix it next time. I was acutely aware of every time I mixed up my words or stuttered, or said something irrelevant. And I had to endure the criticism, constructive or not, that came from the teacher. Now of course, most of them meant well and wanted to help me grow, and I appreciated that. But there were others who were very harsh, even when it wasn’t necessary.
There have been times in my life when I’ve given feedback to others. I’ve edited a lot of papers and evaluated people on their speeches and presentations. I’m not saying that I’m good at it, but I realized that I give feedback the way I want to receive it. I think there are (at least) four reasons that introverts, if I may generalize, are good at giving constructive criticism and feedback.
1. We can see the motivation behind people. We can tell if they’ve tried really hard, or if they’ve just slapped something together at the last minute. We’re very good at seeing the small details. Their posture, body movement, and expressions can tell us how they’re feeling. We understand that some people find presentations difficult and that they’ll stumble over words, or forget things. And because we’ve done the same, we don’t judge them for it.
2. We can easily see what needs to be improved. Because introverts take in a lot of information, we hone in on the little details. In a speech, its easy to tell if they’re too note-tied, need more eye contact, or need to open up their gestures. Because we notice everything, we can see the little things they need to work on.
3. We choose our words carefully so that we don’t hurt others. I’ve been cut to pieces by harsh evaluations many times. And then been told not to be, “so sensitive, its for your own good, why are you getting upset”. It got to the point where I dreaded any kind of oral presentation, because of the evaluation that followed. Having gone through this myself, I know how much words, even well-meant words, can hurt. So I’m very careful in how I phrase things. I can get my point across just as well as someone who bluntly states the obvious. I just use tact and courtesy instead.
4. We tend to keep things positive. One of the ways I like to give feedback is in a ‘sandwich’. You start with something you thought they did well. Then you move onto a few things that need work. Then you finish up with something positive. When someone is yelling at you, its easy to start tuning them out and ignoring even the constructive things they say. But if you keep things positive, people are more receptive to making changes.
Do you have any oral presentation stories? How do you give feedback?
Edit: Pearlgirl90 had a great point, these four points might be more related to INFJs specifically rather than introverts in general. But let me know what you think 🙂