Labels have the power to make—or break—how you see your strengths as an introvert.

Labels Can Boost Your Confidence as an Introvert—or Destroy It

Are you slow, or are you methodical? Are you rigid, or are you organized? Be careful of the labels you use, especially where your introverted strengths are concerned!

Recently I’ve been on an educational odyssey to learn how to replace the radiator in my son’s 2001 Honda Civic.

And to then go forth and actually do it.

This is not the kind of thing that comes easy to me.

In fact it comes difficult—so much so that, in the not-so-distant past, I never would have attempted it.

But I have learned something crucial about myself over the years, something that is troubling and life changing at the same time:

I often fall into the trap of thinking that my introverted strengths are actually weaknesses.

I’ll bet you do too, given the extroverted culture we live in.

Words Really Do Matter

Think about it.

Are you and I really slow (my frequent self moniker) at certain tasks, or are we instead methodical in our approach to them?

Do we think too much, as people often tell us, or are we reflective?

Are we rigid and inflexible, or are we planful and organized?

Words—labels—have power.

And labels as personal descriptors have gotten the best of me and my introversion way too many times.

But not this time.

Use Strengths-Focused Labels

This time I decided I would very intentionally treat—and label—my introverted strengths as the introverted strengths they really are.

Out with slow, for example, and in with leveraging applicable YouTube videos, studying them methodically to learn the radiator replacement procedure in detail.

Out with think too much and in with pinpointing two key videos that, supplemented by my trusty Haynes repair guide, would serve as my step-by-step field manual for the operation.

Out with rigid and in with writing down each step as I completed it, taking photos as necessary, so that once various parts had come out to get the new radiator in, I’d be organized enough to reverse the process and put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Negative Labels Have Got to Go

The morning I decided to get started on the job, my father-in-law, God bless him, offered to help.

And into the old trap I fell.

“I’m slow,” I said to him.


“I just need to be methodical about it if I’m going to succeed,” I said in a quick labels rephrase:

“I’d love your help, but I have to take my time and follow my plan if I’m going to learn anything and pull this off.”

My father-in-law, God bless him, agreed to my terms—and abided by them as he, along with my son Théo, dug in with me and we got going.

It was not a flawless process.

Rusty bolts broke and we had to improvise. It took a while to get the old radiator out and maneuver the new one into place. We had to watch and rewatch the videos several times.

Eventually, though, we were done.

Until I had to replace a burst radiator hose the next day.

Then we were done.

And then I understood that labels like slow have got to go—in my life and in yours, fellow introvert.

2 replies
  1. Kurt Nicolai
    Kurt Nicolai says:

    Hi Pete! I am the same way, especially when trying something new. I like to make sure I comprehend what is needed to perform the task. When trying to learn or be taught something on the job, I feel like I need to rush (since I am on the clock), and it takes a bit before it really sinks in and makes sense.

    • Peter Vogt
      Peter Vogt says:

      Hi Kurt,

      Thanks for reading, and for your comment.

      I can so relate, and for me it’s been a lifelong thing. I still vividly remember fifth grade or so, when we started taking those timed tests to make sure we knew our multiplication tables. I did well on the problems I managed to complete, but I never came close to completing the entire test in time.

      Same was true for the ACT, the SAT, the GRE before grad school, and on and on. I did fairly well on what I was able to complete, but never came close to finishing.

      Anyway … combine that sort of thing with what you’ve described about learning new things—which I also very much relate to—and it can add up to that whole danger of thinking of yourself, and calling yourself, “slow” (or worse).

      I’m glad these days to (finally) just be OK with my speed and, as I said in the piece, home in on the positive aspects of it. There’s something positive, which we can’t overlook or ignore, about–as you put it—”comprehend[ing] what is needed to perform the task.” That kind of mindset ensures quality, correctness, thoroughness, and more.

      Thanks again for reading, Kurt!


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