16 Strategies To Being An Effective Introverted Worker
According to a series of studies, roughly one-third to half of the US population may be introverted.
Thanks to this, along with the efforts of Susan Cain’s manifesto, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” more and more people have started to become more accepting of introverted employees. Not only that, but it’s helped immensely introverted workers to embrace and champion their overly serious and reflective style within the workplaces.
While all of these efforts are great, it’s still not enough. Many introverts at work can still be faced with a lot challenges and that’s especially true in team dynamics. It becomes especially tough when teams or offices are full of individuals who want to brainstorm, collaborate and be constantly around other people. Particularly, if these groups expect you to be similar and to be more involved.
The reality about introverts is that it’s not about whether these individuals are shy or outgoing. According to Karen Wickre, former Google executive, now editorial director of Twitter and the author of “Taking the Work out of Networking: An Introvert’s Guide to Making Connections that Count,” being introverted or extraverted boils down more to how you recharge after long days that drain your energy. In the cases of introverts, they recharge by having quiet time. More or less, it’s time alone that helps them recharge and regroup themselves before they are ready to get back out into the world.
But there are other factors that determine whether you are an introverted or extroverted person. Fortunately for you, there are a lot of online tests you can take that’ll help you figure that out. And if you find out that you are introverted, below we share 16 strategies that will allow you to excel in the workplace.
Taking Your Super Powers To Work
As an introvert, you might not think you have super powers, but you actually do. You actually have some pretty valuable super powers that work well in a workplace atmosphere. Introverts are known for their ability to listen on a deep level, have the capacity to be both curious and highly observant too. This is particularly important, as a workplace has a lot of unspoken things about it. These unspoken rules and customs are based on folkways, as well as the history of the place. For introverts, being able to understand the dynamics of this and the people within it is valuable. It adds context and explains why certain people do something specific and prioritize some things over the others.
Learning To Make Small Talk Completely Painless
As much as introverts cringe at small talk, it’s important to know that small talk, regardless of the person, creates a momentary bond with that person. Not only that, but it also puts people at ease and is generally a lot better than just being silent. If you participate in small talks, people are going to find you approachable, which can only help you in the long-term. The only thing you need to keep in mind is that small talk is never anything deeply personal. On top of that, small talk is simply that it shouldn’t be taking a long amount of time. On top of that, small talk is pretty harmless to begin with, anyone can say just about anything about the weather, their favorite sports team, or the traffic.
Building A Brain Trust
Cross-training is another great thing for workers allowing departments and employees the opportunity to work closely with one another. But while there are many upsides to this, this can be quite challenging for introverts. In team settings, networking and being able to speak up at larger team meetings can be challenging. In those situations you’re going to need a solid network of contacts that you can count on. This is doubly important for introverts.
But one thing that is available for introverts is the idea of a brain trust. In short, it’s a small group of people that you introduce into your network one by one. How you do this is you go out with the goal of looking for one person after a meeting or event and invite them to a one-on-one chat with you. Whether it’s coffee lunch or even a hallway chat and walk, the idea is to build a connection with them. In the end, you’ll grow a network that you can informally turn to what’ll help you understand the ins and outs at work.
Showing Up To Office Parties
I get it, you’re not a huge fan of parties and for an introvert they can be especially draining and unpleasant. However, regardless of what the office culture is like, there are particular events that should never be skipped. Those being holiday parties and summer outings. But before you start groaning, do keep in mind that there is nothing explicitly telling you that you need to be at the event from the beginning to the end.
Taking this sort of approach is perfectly fine in this case, but there is a certain way to do it. For one, you need to get there early as there will be less people. On top of that, it’s important for you to make a few circuits around the room with a drink in your hand. Through this circuit the idea is to talk to a few of your colleagues, the manager, and even the CEO, if the company is small enough. You also want to take some time to talk to other stakeholders of the company if any are present. In short, you want to be doing this for an hour, making small talk and saying hello to others before heading off.
Putting Up with Happy Hour Occasionally
Much like office parties and events, attending happy hour now and then can be incredibly beneficial for you. As much as we appreciate our alone time, not being as involved in events can backfire, as coworkers will start to feel like they don’t know us as well. Follow the same principles as attending office events – show up early, enjoy a drink (or two), make your rounds, and leave to go home for dinner.
Using Your Headphones
Just because you’re in a place where collaboration is expected of you, you’re also introverted and need some space at times. On top of that, for many introverts, general office chatter can really get in the way of their work. So don’t be afraid to pop in the headphones during the day when you really want to work. Also, don’t feel bad about it. According to a study conducted by CloudCover Music, almost one out of two people put headphones on when they want to avoid the chatter around the workplace.
Putting Coworkers at Ease
If you’re introverted, you don’t need to make a big announcement about it. Being introverted is not like a special classification or a title or anything like that, however, there is nothing stopping you from leaving behind clues. These clues are important because they allow others to bond with you and understand you more. One example of a clue is you can turn your fact into a joke at your own expense. You can joke about never going to be the first person to participate in karaoke.
Getting Advance Notices
In cases of meetings, it can be tough and stressful when you’re placed on the spot and you have to speak up. To avoid those situations, make sure to start asking coworkers and managers and getting advance notices. The idea with this information gathering is to get an idea of what sort of input this meeting is expecting you to do. With that, you’ll be able to practice in advance on what you want to say and how you want to say it.
Getting Emails to Work for You
While human connection is important, it is worth noting that we all have access to email. What’s nice about this is that not all work interactions require an in-person meetings or face-to-face chats. Make sure you use your emails to your advantage, as it’s a powerful tool that’ll help you communicate with your colleagues. You can always fall back to this method if this is more comfortable for you, as emails provide a lot of benefits. The biggest is that it helps you to organize your thoughts and ideas and put it on paper.
Another approach you can consider is typing out a list of suggestions or ideas, printing them out, and handing the list out to your colleagues prior to meetings.
Proving That You Are Reliable
The introverts that excel in the workplace are quite the reliable people. In fact, most managers and other individuals prefer working with introverts for a few reasons. One is their careful listening skills, and the other is their ability to think beyond themselves and think more about what’s best for the whole group. If you focus on being yourself, introverts can show off their reliability quite well, as others realize that they’re not only reliable, but also empathetic, and can make remarkably great decisions.
Funny enough, a study from Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania discovered that introverted managers are quite the supporters.They take a shine to more proactive employees and even go as far as helping them succeed in their careers. The study showed that they help others succeed by listening carefully to their suggestions and supporting their endeavours. Even if you’re not a manager, there is nothing stopping you from acting like one.
Finding The Sweet Spot
The sweet spot between stimulation and interaction is the key and this is especially important for an introvert. While introverts may instinctively feel like less is better, the reality is that you need to find a balance. You need enough stimulation that you can be effective, but not too much that you’re overwhelmed.
The reality is that most introverts don’t really need to be constantly alone. That being said, way too much small talk can also be draining, as well when introverts long for deep and engaging conversation. Knowing your limits, so you don’t slip into boredom is the key that can help you interact with your coworkers better throughout the day.
Channeling The Creativity
Every person is creative, but how we manifest creativity and how we use it is different. For an introvert, it can be challenging to channel their creativity, but there is a way around it. The biggest thing being the use of the time when you are recharging to tap into your creative side.
Some of the greatest ideas and leaps in innovation and art have all stemmed from quiet and cerebral people. Prime examples of these leaps are the theory of evolution, personal computers and even Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. All of these have come from great minds, the minds that were listening to their inner worlds.
Recharging at Work
If you just got out of a long meeting or an intense conversation, don’t be ashamed to take a little bit of time for yourself. Use this time to go for a short walk by yourself or find a nice and quiet place to eat your lunch.
Teaming Up With an Extrovert
Just because you’re an introvert, doesn’t mean that extroverted people are your enemies. In fact, some of the best and effective teams are a combination of introverts and extroverts.
For you to be efficient, take some time to form relationships with extroverted people and formulate strategies. The whole idea is to break work and assignments down to tasks that each person is great at.
Realizing That You’ll Never Become Extroverted
But probably the most important thing is that no matter how much you grow and develop, realize that you’ll never become an extrovert. Problems arise when we try to force ourselves to change our personality and identity too much too quickly. Not to mention fighting our own personality. Of course people can change, but a good quote to live by with regards to this goes like this:
“Bill Gates will never become Bill Clinton, no matter how much he polishes his social skills, and Bill Clinton will never be Bill Gates, no matter how much time he spends all alone with computers.”