Introverts deal with many challenges when it comes to their professional life. They’re shy when it comes to voicing their ideas and they often lack the social network to help them get ahead in the corporate world. However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t thrive in the business world. Check out this article for a few useful tips on how to succeed at work when you’re an introvert.
Offices can be particularly difficult environments for introverts, who generally feel more productive when there’s no one around to bug them or ask for updates. Excessive meetings, socializing with coworkers, networking – all these common business practices can drain introverts of their creative energy and leave them longing for solitude. Introverts work best autonomously, which can create the false impression that they’re not contributing enough to the company’s growth.
As an introvert touched by a glimpse of social anxiety, thriving in an office setting has been a big challenge for me. Coworkers mistook my quietness for arrogance and managers thought that my lack of communication was due to laziness or disinterest in advancing my career. I was shy about voicing ideas or opinions during meetings and rarely took initiative during brainstorming sessions. However, I was focused and responsible when it came to my assignments, which eventually lead everyone else to realize that just because I don’t talk a lot doesn’t mean that I have nothing to offer. Quite the opposite.
Introverts generally have a knack for helping to solve workplace problems, because of their great listening skills. They take in the information on a deeper level, which allows them to come up with creative and innovative ideas. Also, they don’t need micro-managing, since they’re already self-sufficient. All these great traits make them not only effective workers, but also skilled and thoughtful leaders.
In order to prove how valuable you are though, you need to figure out how to succeed at work on your own terms and shine in the dreaded office environment. Here are a few tips that will help.
Always be Prepared
Whether we’re talking about a meeting, performance review, or pitch, make sure you do your homework beforehand. Knowing what to expect can make you feel more comfortable and give you enough time to think of what you have to say. If we’re talking about a meeting, request an agenda and ask who else is going to be there. For a performance review, make a list of all your accomplishments. When you need to meet with a client or pitch an idea to your supervisors, rehearse what you’re going to say. Just as you strategize for projects and tasks, you need to plan ahead for connecting with people.
Make Time for Breaks
Breaks are important for all workers, to unwind and recharge. When you’re an introvert though, it’s crucial that you carve some alone time during the workday, to gather your thoughts and process information better. An office environment usually involves excess noise and distractions, which can be extremely stressful. Instead of beating yourself up because you’re not more communicative in a group setting, honor your need for alone time. Take a walk at lunch, enjoy a cup of tea in the kitchen when there’s no one around, or chill in the break room for a few minutes. You will feel re-energized and ready to tackle new challenges.
Rely on Your Strengths
You may never be the most gifted speaker in the conference room, but that doesn’t mean that your coworkers and supervisors won’t appreciate your input. Take advantage of your listening skills and, if you don’t feel like speaking up during a meeting, follow up afterward via email. This way, you have more time to process the information and brainstorm for solutions.
Don’t be Afraid to Lead
Introverts can make exceptional leaders, so don’t turn down a promotion just because you’re afraid to coordinate and supervise other people. As a matter of fact, studies suggest that introverted leaders deliver better outcomes than extroverts when managing proactive employees. You’re patient, calm, and great with one-on-one interactions, so you can easily lead a team to success. Testup has a great article on the subject – you can check it out here.
Build Meaningful Connections
When attending a networking event, remember that quality always trumps quantity. You don’t have to engage with everyone there; instead, focus on building meaningful connections with the people you truly want to interact with. Figure out who else is going to be attending the event and make a shortlist of who you want to talk to. You should also take advantage of professional social networks like LinkedIn. Connecting with someone online can be just as beneficial as reaching out to them in person.
Introverts can stand out from the crowd as long as they are willing to embrace their natural strengths and stay true to their personalities. Pretending you’re something you’re not will only lead to frustrations and burnout. Dazzle your supervisors with your excellent written communication skills, predilection for productivity, and outside-the-box ideas. You will climb the corporate ladder in no time.