Being A Doctor and An Introvert: Survival Tips

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Life as a doctor can be incredibly rewarding. When you have the chance to make a tangible difference to someone’s life, give them good news, it can make all the years of study, debt, and stress feel 100 percent worth it. It’s those moments when everything goes right that makes doctoring feel worth it… unless you’re an introvert.

Introversion is fairly common; many of us struggle to engage with other people. This doesn’t stem from dislike, but more from nervousness; introverts don’t have the gregarious nature of extroverts. Interacting with other people can be stressful, which is why being an introvert and a doctor can be particularly troubling– you have to talk to people, but struggle as it doesn’t come naturally to you. You can still be a great doctor when you’re an introvert, but it is more difficult to connect with your patients in a meaningful way.

If you’re an introverted doctor, learning to power through the awkwardness and discomfort you feel is vital. Let’s investigate a few strategies you can use to make the process easier.

Confidence In Your Professionalism

Life as a doctor does not mean you have to always be there to hold your patient’s hand; few doctors have the time for this, meaning that interactions can be kept to a minimum. However, this also means you don’t have time to practice those patient/doctor interactions as frequently as you might need.

The next time you speak to a patient, give yourself confidence by being as professional as possible. Professionalism comes from all sorts of different areas; the way you speak, the tone of voice you use, and how you hold your posture. The way you look has an impact too; uniforms and scrubs can help you feel more authoritative. With all the right pieces in place, and with professionalism at the forefront of your mind, you can draw strength from these sources. You know what you’re talking about; you’re the expert; and you look and feel like it. Sometimes, you have to fake it, but that’s okay! Smile, look and feel as professional as possible, and eventually interactions will feel more natural.

Have A Set Goal For Every Conversation

When you’re an introvert, it can be tough to know why you’re engaging in conversation– and you get lost, feeling awkward. To help with this, you should have a set goal in mind every time you talk to a patient.

That goal could be broad — “I need to find out how this patient is doing at the moment” or more specific — “I need to persuade this patient to stop smoking”. Whatever the goal is, you can focus on keeping the conversation heading in a direction that can obtain your goal. This helps to prevent the conversation from devolving into small talk, which is something that introverts tend to struggle with.

End With A Thank You

Many introverts struggle to know how and when to end a conversation. There is a simple remedy for this: say thank you. A basic “well, thank you for your time” signifies to the patient that the conversation is over, and you can move on without having to worry you’ve appeared impolite.

If you can overcome your introversion, you will enjoy your work far more than before. Take your time, build your confidence, and keep your goal for the conversation in mind– and the rest should flow from there.

Why People Hire Me

Most of my clients who end up hiring me, don’t know me personally.

It’s usually through a reference from a friend, but mostly via online: Yelp or LinkedIn.

Once I get contacted on the phone, I ask the person what their goals are so I can tell them if I can help them or not.

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Coaching is a lot like hiring a personal trainer. When you hire a trainer, it’s his/her job to create a program to reach your goals. What I do is very similar, but instead of improving your body, I improve your mind.

I try my best to address the issues brought to me and use past experiences to prove that I’m capable of assisting.

No matter what we talk about, I normally end the call with two criteria for them to consider moving forward:

1) FitIf we don’t have chemistry, we shouldn’t work together. I can figure that out within the first 5 minutes of a call, but it’s not up to me. I want the person on the other end of the phone to feel they can share with me where they need help and trust that I’ll be professional and confidential.

2) Confidence – “If you don’t have the confidence that I can take you to where you want to go, don’t hire me.” I say this with confidence because I have confidence in my abilities to better people. It’s a bold statement, but I wouldn’t say it if I couldn’t back it up. For example, I can’t promise I can find a new job for a client, but I can promise if they follow my process it will lead them to a new career eventually. That may not sound as convincing as putting a deadline on it, but it’s the truth. I believe the pillars I use for any industry transfer very well. I mean at the end of the day, that’s why someone is hiring me right? They can’t do it on their own, so they’re asking for my help.

This system of mine is something I created over time. I saw the patterns in requests with my clients and responded accordingly. Reference is why people contact me. How I communicate to my clients is what proves credibility. But in the end my system is what helps people make a decision on whether to hire me or not. Why? Because a system creates structure and people want to know whether you have it or not.

How to Be More Confident

Who wouldn’t like to be more confident?!

It’s the most desired, intangible trait you can have. Believe it or not, it’s not overly complicated to attain.

Want to know the secret? Drumroll…

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Achieve more.

That’s it?! Simple enough, right?

Think about the last time you were confident. It probably involved you performing and getting recognized for it. A lot of the times we do what we get noticed for. Not always a bad thing, but our ego is involved.

People who are self-confident achieve more. It goes hand-in-hand.

Take for instance one of my coaching-client conversations:

Client: “I’ve been in the same job for 5 years and hate it. I want to leave, but am afraid if I do I won’t have anything else. Can you help me make the transition?

Me: “So you know I can’t promise you employment right? That’s a guarantee no one can make (unless they’re going to hire you themselves).”

Client: “Oh yeah, I don’t expect that, but I need a game plan…something to help me figure out if it’s worth taking the risk of leaving my current job.”

Me: “So you want me to help you with an exit strategy and give you tips on how to get into a new industry right?

Client: “Yes.”

Me: “So what you’re really looking for is to gain more confidence so you’re willing to chase after your dreams.”

Client: “Exactly.”

When you set and achieve goals it builds momentum. It’s like that snowball rolling down the hill in cartoons. It starts small then gets bigger as it picks up speed. Start with small goals, achieve those, then become more ambitious in your pursuit(s). The more you achieve, the greater your confidence.

At the heart of what I do as a coach is build people’s self-confidence. That’s what I tell people when they call me from Yelp!