Outreach, Networking, Communicating – Oh My

But I Am An Introvert



By Rebecca Winston

Idaho, USA



The other day I was reading an article in one of my other professional journals, American Bar Association Journal, 1 Jul 2019, and came across an article by Heidi Brown, “Navigating ‘Introvert Hell”: You Don’t Have to be Hard-Charging to be an Impactful Legal Networker”.  It got me to thinking about the numerous social events I have attended as a project manager, as well as the other outreach events or other communication activities in which I have had to engage.  Just thinking about them caused some stress and by the time an hour passed, I needed to think about something and have a session of mindfulness to relax and send my stress into the ether.  I am an introvert and I need to recharge my batteries following any event or communication activity. I thought I would share what I have learned over several years of such events and activities, as well as practicing law and doing public speaking events.  I will also share that I learned some of these items through the school of hard knocks and road rash and others by reading and learning in the classic sense.

Most dictionaries define an introvert as a reserved or shy person.  The American Psychological Association defines an introvert, as one that as an orientation towards the internal private world of one’s self and one’s thoughts and feelings; prefer to work independently.  Whichever definition one accepts, the overall impression is one in which one is not adept at outreach, networking and communicating.  So how does one become adept or at least give the impression of being adept.

Well, growing up I can remember my Mother telling such gems as “Smile more, it will make it easier.” “Shoulders back and just do it, once you begin it will be fine.”  “Making friends will be easy, just start.”  None of those words of wisdom helped and each time I heard them they caused me to panic.

I ended up spending time in the public library in my town reading up on my weakness as it was referred to in my home.  I read about numerous coping skills, but one of them registered with me and I began thinking that I was doing it to some extent just to cope with life in general.

The book, the title of which I can no longer remember, recommended that one take a drama class and assume a bit of an alter ego.  For years I assumed the alter egos of pioneer girls or Nancy Drew from books I was reading, I would try that route.  I took three years of drama in high school and a year in college.  I have used this technique to great advantage.  I have been the lawyer or the project management.  These roles have been well defined by me with specifications and other requirements that provide several personality traits, allowing me to interact in a complete way with others and to communicate in those roles.

Do I still have to re-charge the batteries after any event?  Absolutely, acting is tough.  It is not the natural state for this person.  I have to continually remind myself of the performance requirements and boundaries.  But I have also put up boundaries for the interactions that protect the introvert.


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How to cite this article: Winston, R. (2019). Outreach, Networking, Communicating – Oh My! But I Am an Introvert; PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue VIII, September. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/pmwj85-Sep2019-Winston-outreach-networking-communicating-oh-my.pdf



About the Author

Rebecca Winston, JD, PMI Fellow

Idaho, USA




Rebecca (Becky) Winston, Esq., JD, PMI Fellow, is a former Chair of the board of the Project Management Institute (PMI®). An experienced expert on the subject of project management (PM) in the fields of research & development (R&D), energy, environmental restoration and national security, she is well known throughout the United States and globally as a leader in the PM professional world.  Becky has over 30 years of experience in program and project management, primarily on programs funded by the US government.  She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska’s College of Law, Juris Doctorate (1980), in Lincoln, Nebraska and has a Bachelor’s of Science (BS) degree in Education from Nebraska Wesleyan University She is a licensed attorney in the states of Iowa and Nebraska, USA.

Active in PMI since 1993, Rebecca Winston helped pioneer PMI’s Specific Interest Groups (SIGs) in the nineties, including the Project Earth and Government SIGs, and was a founder and first co-chair of the Women in Project Management SIG. She served two terms on the PMI board of directors as director at large, Secretary Treasurer, Vice Chair (for two years), and Chair (2002). She was elected a PMI Fellow in 2005.  She has served as a reviewer of the Barrie Student paper for the PMI Educational Foundation for several years and now serves on the PMI Educational Foundation Board for a three-year period of service beginning in 2018.  She is also a member of the American Bar Association and the Association of Female Executives in the United States.

Ms. Winston periodically serves as an advisor to organizations such as the National Nuclear Security Administration (USA), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on topics ranging from Program and Project Management to project reviews, risk management and vulnerability assessments. She served on the Air Force Studies Board for six years and currently serves on the Intelligence Science Technology Engineering Group for the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, as well as actively serving on many studies for the National Research Council.

Since 2008 she has also served in the capacity of Chair of the US Technical Advisory Group and Head of Delegation for Technical Committee 258:  Project, Programme, and Portfolio Management, as well as serving on the various Working and Study Groups drafting international guidance standards. She has extensive recent PM experience in the areas of software development and sustainment, cyber security, alternative energy, national defense and security, and has worked closely with local, regional and national officials, including Congress and the Pentagon.  She is also a global advisor to the PM World Journal and Library.

Becky can be contacted at rebeccawinston@yahoo.com.