Though not everyone falls clearly into one of two distinct categories, in work and in life, there are introverts and extroverts. Introverts, by nature, typically recharge their emotional batteries by spending time alone. In fact, their energy can seem entirely drained when they're around other people for extended periods of time. Extroverts, by contrast, thrive on mingling with other people. They don't mind large crowds, and they generally prefer the company of others to solo downtime.
Not surprisingly, the business world tends to favor extroverts, because they're generally better at speaking their minds, owning the room, and grabbing folks' attention. As such, we introverts risk getting lost in the corporate shuffle.
As a manager, you may not understand what makes introverts tick or how to support us in a workplace environment, so we'd like to clear the air and shed some light on our personalities, which are not so complicated after all. Here are a few things we'd really like you to be aware of.
1. We may prefer to work remotely
Introverts tend to get overwhelmed during periods of constant conversation and interaction. It's not that we don't like people; it's that we occasionally need a little alone time to restore our mental energy. Therefore, many of us might prefer a work situation where we get to telecommute at least part of the time. If you allow us to work from home, say, one day a week, you may be surprised at how much we accomplish. But more so than that, we'll come back to the office feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world.
2. We don't brag about our accomplishments, but we still like to get credit
Introverts don't tend to crave attention -- but that doesn't mean we don't want our contributions acknowledged. Furthermore, it might seem like we're not pulling our weight at times because we don't go out of our way to tout our achievements, but in reality, we're a hard-working bunch just like our extroverted counterparts.
3. We can be strong team players
Because introverts tend to feel more content spending time alone, you might assume that we'd rather be tucked away in our corner cubicles, where we can plug away solo at whatever it is we're working on. But actually, many of us function quite well in team environments. We may need the occasional break from our colleagues -- particularly the louder or more outgoing ones -- but we're happy to collaborate and learn from those around us.
4. We still have social skills
Despite our preference for alone time, the majority of introverts know how to carry on conversations with colleagues and associates, diffuse tense work situations, and make persuasive arguments. Furthermore, we're not necessarily shy or awkward conversationalists, so don't stick us on the sidelines when a big client comes in for a meeting. Rather, give us a chance to present, or mingle, or do whatever it is the rest of our team members are doing to land that account or drum up new business. We can hack it -- promise.
5. We can also be leaders
Introverts are surprisingly good at separating their work lives from their personal lives. As such, we're capable of hosting meetings, speaking in front of crowds, and fostering team spirit -- we may just opt to skip the company happy hour afterward in favor of a relaxed night at home. You might think that as introverts, we're destined to spend our days as low- to mid-level employees, but actually, a lot of us would make terrific leaders. So the next time a promotion opens up, don't automatically pass over our names. After all, introverts count such legendary leaders as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett among their ranks.
One final thing: We introverts tend to be really good listeners, and that's not something you see every day. So rather than bemoan our presence on your team, use us to your advantage. Trust us -- you won't be sorry.