It’s okay to be an introvert in the workplace
In the workplace, people are often judged on how well they play with others and fit into teams. This can be tough for extroverts, who naturally want to draw attention to themselves and thrive on collaboration and teamwork, but it can be even more challenging for people who are less outgoing, more reserved or just want to do their own thing when they’re at work. If you’re one of these people, you know how hard it can be to fit in or keep your boss happy — and that means your job may be at risk if you don’t become more of a team player.
The top three traits of introverts
- Solitude can bring inspiration and creativity as much as interaction with others.
- Introverts need time alone to recharge
- Being quiet is not a negative trait; it just means introverts aren’t comfortable sharing all of our thoughts at once or in a group setting.
Introverts and collaboration – what works best?
When you’re working closely with someone, it’s important that you respect their unique working style and personality. For extroverts, a lot of collaboration may not feel necessary or natural but for introverts, over-collaboration can have huge downfalls. Every person has a unique way of approaching problems and making decisions; we need to understand one another’s methods so we can collaborate successfully. Teams who learn how to work together productively despite their differences are more successful as a whole.
Collaboration tips for introverts
- It’s not that introverts don’t want to collaborate. Rather, it’s a question of how—and when—to do so without taking energy away from their responsibilities. Here are four tips for being a team player without burning out:
- Let go of perfectionism. Introverts typically have high standards and strong focus, but they also tend to overthink their work. This leads to frustration and anxiety when something is less than perfect—which just makes collaboration even harder! Don’t obsess over details; it will only hamper your ability to work effectively with others.
- Take breaks if needed. Just because you prefer one-on-one interactions doesn’t mean others do too. If you find yourself easily distracted by conversations or happen to get overwhelmed quickly during group projects, step back. Make sure everyone knows they can come talk to you later (when things have settled down), and give yourself space until then. You’ll be able to contribute much more productively after resting and regaining perspective on your tasks.
- Ask questions first. When working with other people, there’s no need to make assumptions about what they think. Before making any big decisions together, ask clarifying questions so everyone understands what needs to happen next and where they stand on important issues like deadlines and budgets.
- Know your limits. As an introvert, you likely enjoy working independently and meeting new people less frequently than some extroverts.
Introverts in teams – how do you benefit your team?
From a team leader’s perspective, there are tons of benefits to having introverts as part of your business. Introverts tend to think before they speak. While not always true, it’s fair to say that if you put two extroverts on a task, they’ll bounce ideas off each other and come up with new suggestions by talking out loud. If you put one introvert and one extrovert together on a task, though, chances are both will take some time to think about how they want to approach things. This process can lead either person toward better conclusions—or different ones. Likewise, when working with clients or customers, introverts aren’t likely to jump right into full-speed small talk.
5 questions on what it means to be an introvert at work
1. Do you think being an introvert has helped or hurt your career? Why do you think so?
2. Do you feel like there is a stigma attached to being an introvert?
3. If yes, what do you think that stigma is and why do you think it exists?
4. Have people ever held your introversion against you at work?
5. Have co-workers or managers ever said something negative about your quiet nature?
No matter your personality, your work environment should both challenge you and empower you. If you feel that it may be time to find a different career that aligns with your personality and allows you to be your best self as an introvert, take a look at some of our recommended career options.
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