How to Excel as an Introverted Business Analyst

Do you have an introverted personality as a business analyst and you are wondering how to best leverage your personality to excel at your work? Or perhaps you think because you are introverted, you are somehow held back from success?

As an introverted business analyst personality, you might find it difficult to add value because you feel you don’t “think fast enough,” can’t interrupt in a meeting, or even find that your voice goes out in important situations.

Today’s video is all about how to succeed as an introverted business analyst. Because – guess what? – I’m an introverted business analyst too!

And even if you are an extroverted personality, you may want to check out today’s video. It’s likely that you have many introverted stakeholders, and you’ll learn some tips and tricks for working more effectively with them. Sometimes our quietest stakeholders hold the information we need the most.

For those who like to read instead of watch, here’s the full text of the video:

Hey there, Laura Brandenburg from Bridging the Gap. Today, let’s talk about how to excel as an introverted business analyst.

Definition of an Introverted Personality

Now, if you’re wondering what I mean by introverted, this is not about being shy. Introversion is when you get your energy, or your energy gets built up by being alone vs. an extrovert, who has energy, and their energy gets built up when they are with other people. Some of us are introverts, and some of us are extroverts. Whether you or an introvert or an extrovert, I think you’re going to gain a lot from today’s video.

If you are an introvert, you’re going to learn tips from somebody like me who is an introvert on succeeding and excelling as a business analyst. If you’re an extrovert, you’re going to learn tips for working with the introverts that are part of your team. So, let’s dive right in.

We talked about an introvert not necessarily being somebody who’s shy, but somebody who gets their energy from being alone or working independently. There are some challenges that introverts face as business analysts and, quite honestly, a lot of people are surprised to learn that I’m an introvert because I do things like this, like share videos and really engage on social media, and speak at events, and do live training programs. But, I will tell you that those activities are draining to my energy in a certain way.

After I speak, even at an hour and half long chapter meeting, I need some time to decompress and be on my own. That is true for a lot of introverts. We can do it. We can be out there. We can be visible, but it’s not necessarily the activity that fuels us and that energizes us.

I get much more energized writing a blog post, or figuring out an analysis model, or working on something independently than I do being on the phone with a client, or speaking publicly. Things like that. This is common for introverts. It’s not that we can’t do those things, it’s just that’s not the thing that fills up our energy.

What If Your Business Analyst Personality Means You Don’t Think Fast Enough?

Some of the comments that come up, though, from introverts – and I face these challenges too – one of the things is about slow thinking. Like,

“Oh, it feels like I think slow. Everybody else has this fast pace of thinking. In a meeting, it feels like I’m always trying to catch up because I think too slow.”

I remember telling an early coach of mine, I just need to learn how to think faster because I think too slow. She was like, “Yeah, I don’t really think that’s your problem. Let’s look at some other strategies for how to handle this.” She was right. It wasn’t that I think slow, it was that I think better when I am processing information independently because that’s when my energy is getting built up.

It wasn’t so much about finding a strategy where I could think as “fast” as everyone else in a meeting. It was about finding a strategy where I could have the space to think critically and analytically in an independent way and bring those ideas back to the meeting.

As a business analyst, we have perfect tools to do this. We can say, “Hey, I need to take everything we learn in this meeting today and put it together in a draft visual model.” And I’ll schedule another meeting to review. And now that draft model, or draft requirements document has your best thinking. You get time to work on it, to think it through, to look at it analytically, and structure the requirements and put things together and find questions to ask. Then you get to come back to the group and present those ideas and facilitate a discussion that’s leveraging some of your best thinking.

If you are an extroverted BA, or even if you’re an introverted BA, a lot of your stakeholders, especially end-user business process stakeholders who do a lot of work that’s not externally facing (your billing people, your internal HR people, and people that work on those systems day to day) are probably going to be introverted too. You want to look at ways and strategies to engage them; give them time to review a document ahead of time, to think through something and bring their ideas to the meeting so that you’re getting that balance of perspective and not just getting the requirements from your more extroverted stakeholders.

Leverage Your Unique Business Analyst Personality Strengths by Focusing on Analysis, Not Perfection

The other thing to think about is focusing on analysis and not perfection.

Because you get your energy from that independent work, that time to be thinking critically and working on things, and thinking through models, it’s going to be really tempting to perfect those models and to overanalyze, or spend a lot of time figuring out how to get everything perfectly aligned in Visio. Because that’s going to be somewhat energizing because you’re going to feel like you’re working through something.

It’s important to recognize that for what it is. And, yes, you want to do your thinking and structured thinking, and critical thinking, and give yourself space to do that. But, you also, really, want to make sure you’re getting those models back in front of stakeholders and getting feedback and really engaging people in that process as a business analyst, and not just working on it all on your own and putting it out when you feel it’s perfect. Most likely, then, you’re going to get that, “Eh, yes, but…” response that causes challenges and you’re going to feel like you had this perfect model that just got torn apart in a meeting.

You want to create time and space to do those more extroverted people-oriented activities so that you’re getting that buy-in, asking those questions, getting that feedback all along the way.

What If Your Business Analyst Personality Means Your Voice Gives Out?

The third thing I want to talk about came out from somebody I was recently on a mentoring call with. She talked about how her voice will literally give out in a meeting. She’s like, “Is there something I can do about that? Like what’s going on here?” And, you know, it’s not uncommon to have some sort of a physiological response to fear that might be coming up. And, so, there might be fear at play there, or something else going on at play there.

I, personally, have noticed that as I’ve increased the visibility of my work at Bridging the Gap, and doing things like more videos and more webinars, and expanding the reach of some of our programs, I’ll get sore throats and coughs, and sinus infections. They always tend to come up when I’m supposed to be recording videos, or during my training, or something like that.

It could just be a coincidence. We have young kids and, so, there are tons of germs in our house. But, also, it could be related a little bit to that fear around getting visible and doing things like this, like recording a video.

There’s not a one-stop solution to this. It’s about, for you, figuring out is there a reason that this is happening?

  • Is there a fear that I’m not acknowledging?
  • Do I want to let my voice giving out or my cold or whatever stop me from acting here?
  • Is there a strategy that I can work around it?

Kind of doing some self-reflection on that and figuring out what’s going on.

In the space, though, take a few deep breaths. Ask a question. Let there be some silence. Let other people fill the space with answers to that question. Take an agenda item. Take a next step that allows you to do something independently like we just talked about. Just create solutions that work in the moment.

Now, one of them that I like to do – this is something I’ve learned just recently. It’s a little “woo-woo,” but if you are a little bit woo-woo (or even if you’re not, there is some good research behind this too), it’s call EFT. EFT is just, you can tap here (on your hand). This is your karate chop point. You can also tap these other points (on your face). Google it. There’s some good information about EFT on YouTube videos, for sure. It’s called EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique, also called Tapping. It’s just a good pattern interrupter.

If I’m on a webinar and I feel my voice crackle or I get nervous about a question that’s come in, or I’m like, “Oh my, who am I to be up here talking to everyone?”, I’ll just start tapping quietly like this. It’s perfect. You can do that under your desk. I’m doing it right now. You can’t see me. You can do that under your desk during a meeting if you wanted or if you’re running conference calls; you can do it wherever. You can just sit here and do this while you’re on your conference call.

It’s just a pattern interrupt technique that tends to shift your energy. It’s a good way to deal with any fear. Whether you’re introverted or extroverted, EFT can be useful. Kind of a little bit of a woo-woo way to think about it.

Most Importantly, Don’t Let Your Personality Be an Excuse

What I want you to take away from this is that there’s no reason that as an introvert, you shouldn’t be a business analyst or you can’t be a business analyst, or, really, any role that involves so much critical and analytical thinking. You have a lot of skills that are going to serve you really well in this role. That ability to think critically and to work independently, and to dive into a requirements model – super important.

You just need to balance that with the activities that are going to make sure you’re engaging with you stakeholders fully and leverage the tools that you have to prepare for those meetings and get through those meetings and deal with any other stuff that comes up along the way, and not let that fear drive you. Let, instead, that time that allows the awareness of your energy to drive you and find a balance that’s going to work for you in your career.

Lots more that we could say about this one but I hope those tips are useful as an introvert. Or, if you’re an extrovert and just learning how to deal more effectively with introverted people.

Please leave a comment below with your tips for being an introverted business analyst.

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Comments

  1. Doyin Famuyibo says:

    Great video! I’ve been looking into the BA career as I feel I have the skills and experience to be successful but my mind keeps playing games with me saying I would not do well because I am an introvert lol. This video couldn’t have come at a better time. Thank you!

  2. Introversion translates to thinking too slow? Thats a first. I am an introvert through n through but I neither lose my voice in a meeting not do i think slow. I have no problem articulating my thoughts, opinions n concerns. I do, though, not like pushing my way through or talking out of my turn. My work doesnt suffer due to my introversion. My social life does. Two different things.

    • Maybe it didn’t do it for you Shilpa, but I found it spoke to me 🙂

    • Thanks for your feedback Shilpa. Everyone has a different experience and I’m glad you shared yours as well.

      Just to clarify – not that introverts actually “think too slow” but that they FEEL that they think too slow. I know I definitely felt this way at one point on my career journey and I’ve heard many introverted BAs express the same concern, which is why I addressed it.

  3. Excellent video and I hope that you will continue discussing this topic of introversion. Thank you.

  4. Sue-Leigh says:

    I really appreciated this article as an introvert BA. I like to have background and details beforehand and I usually take in all the data I can first, and then process it when I have time to think about it wholistically. I like working with stakeholders and clients more one-on-one, so with workshops run as a team, I like having someone else lead the group activities, time tracking, etc. so I can take a step back and focus more on the data and activities we need to work on next for specific outcomes like prioritization, etc. Thanks for posting this!

  5. Laura, thanks for the insight. Do you have information or insight on how to deal or work with others that don’t understand where you get your energy? Extroverts have a tendency everybody should be like them or they are clueless that people get their energy in different ways.

    Thanks,
    Douglas

  6. Nick Johnson says:

    Great tips, Laura. I really enjoyed this article.

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