How Introverts Can Survive in Extroverted Work Environments
Personality is not a matter of black and white. However, many popular personality tests create misconceptions that cause people to place themselves and others in tightly confined boxes. As a result, people learn to count themselves out when it comes to certain talents or traits. After all, according to their test results, they’re not supposed to have those talents or traits!
Introverts tend to have it especially bad in this respect. That’s why the first step introverts need to take toward survival in the workplace is to forget everything they’ve learned about what it means to be an introvert. Introverts are neither antisocial nor unable to communicate. Introverts are just as capable of making friends with their colleagues as extroverts are! If you’re an introvert, you are not destined to fail in a fast-paced business atmosphere. In fact, as an introvert, your career can take you anywhere. You can even become CEO!
Here’s how introverted employees can not only survive, but thrive in an extroverted world:
1. Understand What ‘Introversion’ Truly Means
An introvert is someone who mentally recharges in the quiet, away from others. They are drawn to projects that emphasize individual talent or the talent of small teams. Often, introverts would rather communicate with a few people or via digital channels.
People used to believe extroverts made better leaders and introverts didn’t want the responsibility of guiding teams and projects. This misconception resulted in many introverts being overlooked for promotions. Though often conceived as shy, introverts are just better at concentrating when there’s little chaos around them. That does not mean an introverted manager couldn’t organize a chaotic environment. Rather, it simply means that introverts tend to be happier when they can put all their attention into the task at hand.
2. Accept Your Faults; Everyone Has Them
This is stating the obvious, but no human is perfect. We all make mistakes – but at least that evens the playing field a bit. The flip-side of this fact is that we all have the opportunity to improve ourselves and develop our skills.
That being said, people do have their passions. Some passions equip people with certain talents. Whether you’re already employed or seeking a new job/promotion, it’s important consider your passions and the talents they may relate to.
Look at your previous positions or personal hobbies. Delve into your skills, then do the same for your weaknesses. Be critical. Create a handy reference sheet for yourself. Remind yourself and your leaders what you have to offer, then take conscious steps to improve in the areas where needed.
Of course, the assessment of passions, talents, and weaknesses isn’t limited to introverts. Ambiverts and extroverts should engage in this exercise, too, if they want to get the most out of their careers.
3. Know Your Boundaries, Both Emotional and Physical
Too many of us neglect our mental and physical health at work – especially our mental health. We know working after midnight will affect our energy levels the following day, but do we ever stop to think about how much work we can handle before we’re too stressed to be productive?
Introverts especially need to watch out for their well-being at work. Extroverts, generally speaking, love continuous meetings and constant teamwork. This work style isn’t ideal for those on the opposite end of the spectrum. Managers should empower introverts by offering them time for concentration and giving them various office space choices. Meanwhile, introverts can take control of their schedules by blocking off time between meetings so that they can rest and recharge.
Managers, leaders, and employers, it is time to let go of what you think you know about introverts and extroverts based on the 70-year-old Myers-Briggs assessment! Take a deeper look at the workplace values of your employees and colleagues. Some of the hardest-working, most dedicated, and highly skilled people come in quiet, unimposing packages. Respect their personalities. Find out what each of your team members needs to succeed. Introverts, extroverts, and all who fall in-between are equally important to the success of any business.
A version of this article originally appeared on the Vitru blog.
Ryan Mead is the CEO and founder of Vitru.