On-Track Communication for Introverts

DISCLAIMER: I don’t claim to be an expert at communicating on the track–it’s very much something I’m still working on! That said, framing things this way has helped my communication efforts, so hey, maybe it’ll help my fellow quiet kids.

Some people are awesome at communication. The people I know who’ve worked as teachers and instructors, for instance, are fantastic at expressing themselves effectively, and there’s a reason for that: A) they’re probably extroverts, or B) if they’re not extroverts, they’ve spent enough time trying to explain things to others that they know what works. Communication is a skill, and it takes practice.

For some of us, however, finding our words is, um, not the easiest thing. A major reason why I enjoy blogging and shy away from public speaking is because I’m pretty great with words in writing, but when I have to speak, it’s a whole mess of BLEEP BLOOP DERP HURRRR. I have the introverted instinct, and I do eleventy-billion times better when I have an extra few seconds to think about what I’m saying, before I commit it to words. Writing makes that easy, and but conversation? Eh, not so much.

If you’re one of those people who’s a little less outgoing than the rest, it’s okay–you can still communicate effectively on the derby track. You’ll just have to practice thinking a bit differently.

Be obnoxious.

If you’re an introvert, you’re the type of person who values a conversation that’s a little slower. You listen well, and you appreciate people who actually listen to you, so you wouldn’t want to speak out of turn, talk over someone else, or (GASP!) be too loud. On the track, however, all of that goes out the window–you and your teammates have to think fast, and do whatever it takes to get the point across quickly, and sometimes, the words can sound a little harsh.

Everyone understands that when you’re playing derby. If you have a good relationship with them off the track, shouting on the track isn’t going to make those people think you hate them. It’s okay to yell. Speak up, and tell those ladies what you want from them. Even if you think you’re being obnoxious, you probably aren’t being anywhere near as big of a jerk as you think you are.

Any words are better than no words.

Another thing about introverts? We don’t like wasting words. We’re not the type to talk for the sake of hearing our own voices, and we’re more likely to stay quiet until we have something meaningful to say.

Bad news, friends: we have to kick that habit, if we’re going to communicate well in a game. Teams who work well together and communicate well talk a LOT. And not every word is going to be super-valuable–as another skater I know recently said, “it’s like they have diarrhea of the mouth.”

So, hey, remind yourself that not every word that comes out of your mouth has to be genius. Even if you think someone sees something on the track, they might not have seen it, so be on the safe side and just say it. Even if your neurons misfire and you suddenly forget how to string words together, saying something, even making a ridiculous caveman grunt, might be enough to get a teammate’s attention and get their help. SAY WORDS. Lots of them. It’s okay if you waste a few.

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