Laura and Kate discuss famous, successful introverts and 6 clever ways introverts can thrive at work, even in an office full of extroverts.
Laura takes a quiz and confirms she’s an introvert. And yes, Kate’s an introvert as well–so we offer lots of personal stories on this show, too.
“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” – Carl Jung
6 Clever Ways Introverts Can Thrive at Work
Are you an introvert? Do you work? Then this lab episode’s for you! No matter what you do for a living, understanding how you tick can help you identify and profit from your strengths as a professional. And you have a lot of strengths.
So what exactly defines an introvert? Susan Cain’s definitive book on the topic, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, explains: introverts have a preference for a quiet, more minimally stimulating environment. They tend to enjoy quiet concentration, listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and have a more circumspect and cautious approach to risk.
Introverts think more, are less reckless and focus on what really matters—relationships and meaningful work. The book also discusses why the workplace and hiring processes really favor extroverts.
Before you start to think introverts can’t possibly get ahead professionally, consider these examples of introverts who’ve been wildly successful in their careers: Mark Zuckerberg (CEO Facebook), Michael Jordan, Bill Gates and J.K. Rowling. Just to name a few.
Let’s talk about 6 ways introverts can thrive at work and find success:
Tip #1: Establish your space
Introverts need a lot more space than extroverts. Personal space, quiet places to work, and less interruption. To be successful, you need to enforce this:
- Block out times on shared office calendar when you are “in a meeting” (aka, need to concentrate and don’t want to be disturbed)
- If possible, make the case for a quiet office to work in. Or find other ways to claim some quiet space, like using noise-cancelling headphones, working part-time from home, or spending a part of the day working elsewhere like empty conference room or lounge
- If you have extroverted colleagues who like to be “in your face” and want to talk everything over in person, ask them to set a time with you to meet and discuss the issue
Tip #2: Build a reputation
Introverts are known for being good at things that require research, analysis and thought. You probably already know what you’re good at – writing, analyzing data, putting together a great PowerPoint presentation, doing a financial report, for example – so put some effort into building a reputation around these strengths.
- Volunteer for a project
- Take the initiative and suggest a project to your boss
- It may be hard to introverts to draw attention to their work, but the more people who see what you can do, the easier it is to build up your reputation for being good at something.
- Become a go-to person — that’s a nice place to be in at work and a key way introverts can thrive at work!
Tip #3: Find an extrovert partner
Some recent anecdotal research shows that when an introvert and extrovert are paired, they can make a dream team. One famous example is Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, who, though totally opposite personality types, achieved phenomenal success in founding Apple Computers.
If you’re an introvert, extroverts might drive you crazy, but try to see their strengths too. This is a powerful way introverts can thrive at work. See ways that you and an extrovert can complement each other:
- You’re good at writing presentations, but an extrovert partner is great at delivering them
- You need to know more about the client’s needs, and an extrovert partner loves talking to the client
- You establish the agenda, and your partner leads the meeting
Tip #4: Give feedback on your terms
One classic characteristic of introverts is that they hate being put on the spot. Remember, you like to think things over before responding. It’s one of your great strengths, because you often come up with really solid answers that way.
- Ask for agendas and topics before a meeting, so you have time to think ideas over before coming to the meeting
- Suggest that everyone has a chance to provide feedback by email within a certain period of time
- If a person puts you on the spot for a reaction or answer, say you need a few minutes to put your thoughts into words and get back to them with a quick email
Tip #5: Practice your fears
Any introvert who’s prepared for a job interview knows this trick. It’s called desensitization – which really means just to practice the thing you fear over and over. So, for interviews, practice answering those difficult questions, like “Tell me about yourself” or “Tell me about a time you messed up at work” so that you’re not so nervous.
- Identify the work-related tasks you fear most
- Take small, manageable steps to “practice” doing this
- If it’s public speaking, for instance, volunteer for short presentations and prepare well ahead of time
- If it’s going to office social functions, commit to going to the next get-together for the first ½ hour, and try to think of conversation topics to take with you
Tip #6: Learn to network a little
Love it or hate it, networking is important at work. But you can learn this:
- Start small, internally at the office
- Suggest grabbing a cup of coffee with a colleague you like
- Show an interest in other people – ask how their weekend was
- Commit to doing one thing like this every day
Richer Life Lab practical
Your Richer Life lab homework for this week is to take the introvert quiz at www.quietrev.com and learn a little more about yourself. Send us feedback on what challenges you face at work as an introvert. Have you found creative ways to thrive at work?
We want to hear about what’s working for you! Let us know if you try out one of the tips we suggested in the show or have other recommendations that we can share with listeners in a future show.
Send us a Lab Report to firstname.lastname@example.org or record a voice message on this page. You can delete and re-record your message if you need to.
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