Modern life is a perfect arena for extroverts, and the working world is no different. We live in a society that values forwardness, leadership skills, ambitiousness, and spontaneity – especially in the workplace. As these are strongly valued, it can make working life hard for the humble introvert. It can be a struggle for them to work in a busy, high pressure environment. Often, introverts find that they can get overlooked for promotions and find job interviews trying and draining. Quite simply, it’s more difficult for them to really put themselves out there.
Introverts are painted as closed off and unsocial, and that they struggle in the office. But introverted doesn’t necessarily mean unsocial. No one likes to be lonely and everyone wants to be included, it’s just that it presents itself in different ways for different people. Nor do introverts necessarily struggle in the workplace. They, of course, have problems with an open plan office and continuous meetings and collaboration. Introverts are just better suited to thinking, planning, and working alone.
When it comes to networking and interviews, it can be really hard for them to “flip the switch” to be social. But they can also come away with more quality connections from networking by finding a select few people and wearing them down, rather than the extroverted approach which is opening a conversation fire on people in a ten metre radius, which doesn’t yield as many long-standing, worthwhile connections. Having a mix of the two on your team ensures at least some coverage.
TALK TO THE HAND
Introverts often get painted as unenthusiastic, which is an unfair assumption. It’s not that we don’t care or aren’t excited, we just express ourselves in a more relaxed manner. But this is something that can transpire negatively in interviews when they’re trying to convince someone that they want the job and that they have the skill set to match. It’s an arena where the extrovert excels over the introvert. But do we really need a whole team full of out-there, go-getters? Probably not. A blend of personalities in the office does more for teamwork and creativity than having a bunch of extroverts yell ideas at each other for a two hour meeting where everyone’s trying to get a bit of the limelight.
Positions don’t always call for the out-going individual either. Sales and recruitment roles? Sure. Yet for the creative and tech heavy positions, extroverted traits aren’t necessarily the best port of call. With introverts shirking away from office life to focus on the task at hand, they can be quick to fall into a rhythm and disappear into the work – a much needed, and often unappreciated, trait for the creative and tech industries.
HIDDEN SILVER LININGS
Introverts are often more self-aware, observant, and great listeners. They’re still team players, they’re just not that willing to start bouncing ideas and getting stuck in until they’ve figured out what they want to say. The think first, act later doctrine coming into play. An introvert will require less supervision, and will get on with the task at hand. So there’s no need to worry about them. Just let them do their thing.
Yet working life can still be overwhelming for the antisocial folk. I know I need to get away from the office every now and again just to breathe and focus on my work. Doing so by either escaping and finding it a secluded spot to do my work, or more in abstract sense and putting my headphones in to drown out the chatter around me. An introvert in an environment full of extroverts can be exhausting.
YOU GOTTA HIDE YOUR INTROVERT AWAY
How can you make the workplace a more comfortable place for your quieter colleagues as an employer? Recognising that just because they’re not speaking, doesn’t mean they’re not engaged. Some people already know what to say, or make statements without thinking it through. Others prefer to receive information before coming out with anything of their own. Plenty of introverts won’t appreciate being called out to talk in a meeting – if they haven’t said anything, it’s because they haven’t got anything to say. And don’t be too worried if you think they’re not engaged enough with the rest of the team. Chances are that they just need to get their peace and quiet to get things done.
If you’re looking to make the workplace a more open, welcoming, and inclusive place for everyone, you’re best off leaving us alone.
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