Tips for Introverts and Their Managers

thoreau

I’m guessing Thoreau’s plan would not have thrived in open-plan-lovin’ Corporateville U.S.A.

Plenty of people don’t fall into the extrovert category. For those inward-looking, quiet types and their managers, there are ways to make the typical work experience more hospitable.

I don’t usually share the work I do in my paid work life on Books+Body, but I think I might start doing so a bit, starting with an article that published today. The piece is called “Four Tips on Getting the Most from Your Introverted Team Members,” and it takes a look at what managers and project managers can do to foster the participation and potential of their introverted members, and I think it has interest for the introverted employee as well.

As an introvert myself, I took special pleasure in writing this. I’ve done other articles on the subject and find that writing is even more satisfying when the subject matter is close to my heart. So what is an introvert? Or, for that matter, an extrovert? In the simplest terms, an extrovert draws energy from the external world, introverts from their inner world. From the article:

Studies show that introverts make up one-third to one-half of the population. Yet most offices are set up exclusively with extroverts in mind, a fact that becomes immediately obvious when you look at traits associated with the two personality types.

  • Extroverts gravitate toward groups and constant action, and tend to think out loud. They are recharged by the external world and from being around other people. They represent the Western ideal of showy confidence and “men of action,” often moving into that action before they’ve formed a concrete strategy.
  • In contrast, introverts typically dislike noise, interruptions, and big group settings. They instead prefer quiet solitude, time to think before speaking (or acting), and building relationships and trust one-on-one. Introverts recharge with deep dives into their inner landscape to research ideas, focus deeply on work, or delve into a book.

Of course, the labels extroversion and introversion lie on a continuum; few people are purely one or the other. Moreover, it’s a rare U.S.-born introvert who hasn’t developed at least some skills to navigate the perpetually extroverted workplace. They have to. In a culture where the typical meeting resembles a competition for loudest-and-most-talkative, where the space is open and desks are practically touching, and where turbocharged confidence, charisma, and sociability is the gold standard, introverts often feel they have adjust who they are to “pass.”

In other words, the modern open office is pretty much a nightmare for the typical office worker. But for many, it’s the reality, so the piece—drawing from an interview with Self-Promotion for Introverts author, Nancy Ancowitz and the work of Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking—gives ideas managers, leaders, and introverts themselves can use in such settings. I hope you’ll head on over and read more about the deep, quiet type.

And in closing, I share my favorite quote from the piece:

“While an extrovert is comfortable coming up with ideas out loud, the introvert needs to send her thoughts to her internal editor first,” says Ancowitz. “Introverts are less likely to share their ‘drafts.’”

-Diann Daniel

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3 Comments

Filed under Inspiration, Writing/Books

3 responses to “Tips for Introverts and Their Managers

  1. Love this. Though I might seem like an extrovert because I what I do, I tend more toward introversion. I love working from home, alone except for my dog. Spend way too long crafting blog posts so they’re just so, and am often the one standing on the side at a party, rather than joining in. It’s very true: most workplaces are built for extroverts!

  2. That’s a good analogy re: sharing the drafts!

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