SDN members see fewer ads and full resolution images. Join our non-profit community!

Becoming more extroverted

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by Bayou Bebe, Mar 1, 2007.

  1. Bayou Bebe

    Bayou Bebe

    Jan 25, 2007
    So I met with my mentor recently, and she suggested that in addition to keeping up my clinical grades that I needed to become more extroverted so I would "shine" at my interviews.

    On the Myers-Briggs that I'm sure we've all taken, I score about a 90% on the I/E scale. All in all, I'd prefer poking myself repeatedly with a stick than make idle chitchat. And in more tense situations (ie residency interviews) I become even more tongue tied and extremely self-conscious thereby not portraying myself in the most positive light.

    Any suggestions on how to overcome this hurdle? My mentor's best suggestion was to "fake it til you make it"....
  2. SDN Members don't see this ad. About the ads.
  3. Droopy Snoopy

    Droopy Snoopy 7+ Year Member

    Apr 3, 2006
    The Alamo
    A couple of shots of Grey Goose should help.
  4. Grey Goose, eh? I guess med student budgets aren't quite as stingy as I was led to believe... :laugh:
  5. lilnoelle

    lilnoelle Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Feb 21, 2006
    I also dislike idle chitchat. Is it necessary at interviews? I wouldn't think so. I'm not sure how trying to become extroverted will all that helpful or necessary at interviews because interviews are generally one on one (or close) are centered around the interviewee and therefore relatively comfortable for the introverted individual. (Or at least I always felt relatively comfortable in an interview). Being self-conscious is a different problem....

    My advice would be to smile, try to be warm to your interviewers, and do whatever you need to make yourself feel comfortable and confident. View this as a chance to sell yourself, cuz hey, your pretty [email protected] desireable, introverted and all.
  6. Droopy Snoopy

    Droopy Snoopy 7+ Year Member

    Apr 3, 2006
    The Alamo
    Live in a dump yes, eat Kraft macaroni six nights a week yes, still drive that '94 Taurus from high school yes, but oho we don't scrimp on the alcohol my friend. Some of my classmates actually budget for it, and our SGA has a mandatory "party fund" (which I can tell you drives the prudes of the class up the wall). And when you're running around hemorrhaging money on the residency interview process like a decapitated chicken, a $40 bottle of vodka gives a comparatively high cost/effect ratio. Just don't go crazy, giving PDs table dances and crying about your ex-boyfriends may not give the best first impression.
  7. samenewme

    samenewme Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Dec 9, 2002
    Practice the phrase, "Tell me more about..." and do it with a lot of things.

    Make idle comments to people in the grocery store line (like, "did you see the sale on spinach?") for practice, until it becomes less painful. I'm more introverted than extroverted, and I did have to practice the small talk stuff. Asking people questions about themselves makes you look like a great conversationalist without your having to work too hard to keep things flowing.
  8. soeagerun2or

    soeagerun2or Banned Banned 2+ Year Member

    Sep 27, 2006
    Are you shy/afraid of people or are you self-absorbed? If its the former go to a mall/public place and just smile and say hi at people and notice how many return the favor - it'll give you a boost of self-confidence which you can use to approach people and be yourself. If it's the latter get over yourself
  9. psipsina

    psipsina Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Jun 24, 2005
    I did this alot around the time of medschool interviews. I'd talk to random people in the airport, in stores etc to hone my conversation skills. I do this during pretest study induced social isolations too . . . I'll go run an errand and talk to random people to remind myself that I am still capable of casual conversations with people about things other than medicine.
  10. Dakota

    Dakota Senior Member Physician 10+ Year Member

    Sep 5, 2005
    Ever try beta blockers? They'll keep the nervous heart racing at bay!

    In all seriousness I don't like idle conversation either. Maybe when I'm a PD I'll select people for residency based on their similar disdain for mindless chatter.
  11. LuckyBambooGirl

    LuckyBambooGirl Junior Member 5+ Year Member

    Apr 2, 2006
    Bayou, I was told the exact same thing! I just made an effort to talk to more people, including complete strangers, and push myself out of my comfort zone. I handled things I normally would have left to my husband, like calling the insurance company when a tree fell and damaged our roof, or getting an estimate for our new air conditioner. When I was invited to parties I went, even if I hardly knew anyone there.

    I don't think that you need to become an extravert to succeed in med school, or interviews, or as a doctor. You just need to make sure you have decent social and conversational skills.

    (By the way, I was told that one of the reasons I was put on the waiting list the first time I applied to med school was because the dean of admissions thought I was too shy. I was absolutely furious and I resolved that it would absolutely not stand in my way of becoming a doctor. I was mad that they even considered it an issue--just because I am not extroverted does not mean I would let shyness get in the way of doing my job and taking care of my patients!!!)

    Best of luck to you!
  12. msl2007

    msl2007 Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 24, 2003
    When I took the Myers-Briggs, they told us that extraverted actually meant that you got your "energy" from other people, whereas introverts were "self-propelled." So don't be too hard on yourself!

    Besides the talking to random people in public, you could try public speaking and teaching small groups. Can you be a tutor for preclinical or premed students? Or talk at premed society functions or at Boys and Girls Clubs or something? If you start with something you know (ie med school) it can be easier to talk. Teaching small groups and public speaking can make chatting easier later.

    You could also hang out on the engineering campus, that'd give you a boost on your social skills confidence! :)

    When you practice answering interview questions, practice your "extrovert" technique: with each answer, smile, then answer in a sentance adding an interesting tidbit about yourself.

    Example: "did you enjoy your X rotation?"
    Bad answer: "Yes."
    Good answer:" It was great. I really liked interacting with the Y on that rotation and have a great memory of doing A and B." (and A and B would show how smart/hard working/etc you are.

    that will at least make you seem more outgoing, and at least the chat isn't idle.

    Otherwise, just apply to path. :)
  13. Bayou Bebe

    Bayou Bebe

    Jan 25, 2007
    Thanks for all of the suggestions. I'll definitely put some of them to use. The concept of randomly talking to strangers in a grocery store aisle is so foreign to me. And its definitely secondary to shyness not a feeling of innate superiority!

    Lucky, I too have very willingly allowed my husband to take over all those types of activities. I guess I should try a more 50/50 split...yuck....
  14. QuikClot

    QuikClot Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    Bayou, you're so right to recognize this as an area that can make or break you. It gets even more important as we go on, but let me share something that has delivered a big improvement in my relationships with people.

    I'm going to violate my self-imposed moratorium on posting here to recommend a book: Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People." People cannot typically become extroverts rather than introverts, but they can emulate some of the basic strategies for interpersonal success that many extroverts execute without even being aware of it.

    I found this book about three months into my first year, a couple months after my father died. I would go to school and not look at people. I was alternating between talking too much and too loud and being silent to the point of sulleness. I would get alternately angry and sad. I was scared as hell by this, because even in your first year, where I am, there are preceptors and small group leaders and faculty grading you, in part, on your likeability and relatability. I felt like both my personal and my professional futures were bleak.

    The ideas presented are very simple and direct. They don't ask you to change the way you feel, but to do, or not do, explicit things. Examples include: learn people's names, and use them, even if it is hard for you to remember people's names (people love to hear their names spoken); don't criticize or complain (which only causes people to get defensive and resentful); always frame a proposal or request in terms of the interests and needs of the person you are talking to (they are much more interested in what they need than what you need); take a sincere interest in other people (everyone loves to feel important, and nothing gives them that feeling better more strongly respectful attention.)

    Here's a funny thing; I've mentioned this book to three faculty, and they've all read it. I'm starting to think it's one of the unknown reading requirements of the profession. And it makes sense; this book provides an algorithm for creating positive professional relationships, in concrete way introverted science people can grasp.

    Using this stuff, I have more friends, better grades, more confidence. Highly recommended. You can't, I would say, change your character, but you can learn to schmooze just like you can learn to run a code. Good luck with interviews and school!
  15. Page

    Page Junior Member 7+ Year Member

    May 24, 2006
    New Orleans
    definitely a good read for someone trying to overcome shyness.

    I was at one time diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. For the first 2 years of college it seriously affected my performance, and I finally got fed up with how it was negatively affecting my life and decided to do something about it. So I went away for a semester to a school across the country where I knew absolutely no one in the adjacent 1000 miles. I worked in a lab there, joined clubs and intramural sport teams etc, really forcing myself to interact. Within a month or so I'd made more and probably better friends there than I had back home at my own college. Placing yourself in a foreign situation like that in which you have no other choice but to interact with others is a quick and effective fix. It worked wonders for me. Though I still have tendencies towards self seclusion and introversion etc, I can interact with others when necessary and beneficial, I can easily make friends and meet new people, and in fact I shine in interviews. The suggestion of getting out there and practicing is really the best way. Getting a book like suggested above can give you the ideas you need to succeed, but like with most things you need to practice to get the hang of it.
  16. t33sg1rl

    t33sg1rl Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Sep 2, 2004
    I'd also choose the hot poker in eye treatment over small talk, and to get through med school interviews, I did not talk to extra people-I picked just a couple of victims to talk to until I had an interview strategy down, and I will share it with you because it's easy.

    All you have to do is like the interviewer. Tell yourself that you've known this person all your life, and they have known you all of yours, and that the two of you just really love spending time together. When you get in there, make some positive assumptions about your interviewer right off the bat-This interviewer is probably a great parent, he probably goes to all his kids Little League games, heck, he probably coaches it, this doctor probably had my exact GPA and MCAT and she's probably really feeling my application, etc. It takes some creative mental dialogue but if you can make yourself believe, the interview will be easy.

    And after the admissions interview, don't worry at all about being an introvert doctor... your doctor-patient relationship is one-on-one and deeply private and personal, which is what introverts excel at. Bonus: You don't share anything personal about yourself.
  17. Doctor Bagel

    Doctor Bagel so cheap and juicy Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Exactly. I always shudder when I see threads like this because it shows so much of a lack of understanding of what it means to be an introvert. Introverts don't hate people. They don't hate being around people. They don't have trouble forming relationships. They just like their alone time, and they prefer interactions with a smaller group of people as opposed to with a ton of people. One could actually argue that extroverts are worse with people in the long run because all their conversations and relationships are superficial. Yeah, I know, not true, but it's no less true than saying introverts are socially damaged people who face huge career obstacles because of their introversion.
  18. cfdavid

    cfdavid Banned Banned 7+ Year Member

    Oct 24, 2004
    Well, we are who we are. So, keep that in mind and perhaps learn to embrace what type of person you are, rather than trying to change. However, there's always room for improving oneself. So, perhaps you could take some initiative to become a bit more open. Just don't expect, or try, to become the life of the party all of a sudden. That's unlikely to be too natural for you.

    Now, have you considered that you may have some sort of anxiety issue?? General Anxiety Disorder? That's a possiblity, and if so, there's a ton of options for you to explore in order to brake away from that. But, if you're just someone that is a bit more quiet, then perhaps you COULD try to make an effort to not come off so shy during interviews.

    Remember that people enjoy talking about themselves. So, if possible, you could do some research on what it is that any possible interviewer does, whether it be research or clinical interests. Showing interest in other people is a good start, and this can be expressed by asking them questions about themselves (within the boundaries of professionalism). Also, remember that you are a unique person that ALSO has interests and beliefs. So, don't be afraid to share that stuff with people.

    Preparation is one of the most effective tools in any interview or presentation process (which tend to give many people at least a bit of natural anxiety). So, do some research. Also, spend some time thinking about what you could say. Or, try running down some possible intereview questions, and how you might respond to them. That way, you'll be less likely to clam up during an interview, and you'll find yourself able to readily regurgitate those previous thoughts of yours when under the gun. However, most interview that I've been on were very easy, and the interviewers were all very kind and relaxed people. So, don't worry exessively about that stuff. Good luck.

Share This Page