Those of us who identify as introverts often receive praise for our ability to be attentive and reliable, yet we may struggle when it comes to advocating for ourselves and being seen as a leader. To make sure our impact isn't overlooked, it is important to practice self-advocacy and create connections with our peers and higher-ups.
Here's what you need to know if you're introverted and want to have a successful career...
..and it's that you can and will have a successful career!
In fact, there's a day for us - January 2 is National Introverts Day..so how are we celebrating?
All jokes aside, introverts often get a bad rap in the workplace, with the stereotype being that they are shy, reserved, and not as capable as their extroverted counterparts. However, this could not be further from the truth. Many introverts excel in the workplace, and there are several ways they can stand out and make their mark, even if they are not the most outgoing individuals.
Intriguingly enough, many introverts have an incredible ability to switch between introversion and extroversion when the situation calls for it. Disclaimer: In all actuality, extrovert and introvertness is more about how the brain processes dopamine - a chemical released when we seek external rewards.
Although they may not be as outwardly confident with their words, introverted personalities can prove themselves even more so with their enhanced listening skills. With the proper environment, it's certainly fascinating how quickly an introvert is able to adjust, demonstrating why equanimity is sometimes even more advantageous than boldness.
Here are some stats about introverts in the workplace:
Introverts make up 30 to 50 percent of the population.
According to Upskilled, "Without all of the noise, introverts can look inward and allow their imaginations to get to work. It’s no wonder artists, writers, and other creative individuals tend to be introverts".
According to Upskilled, When it comes to decision-making, introverts tend to take a more cautious and thorough approach. Introverts prefer to consider multiple outcomes and make careful decisions based on these outcomes.
Along with being self-aware, introverts are very sensitive to and aware of the needs of the people around them. As a result, many are naturally considerate of their colleagues and tend to be more compassionate.
Generationally, introverts are across age groups for various reasons: A Psychology Today article found 59 percent of millennials are introverted and those who belong to Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012) are far more likely to say they were lonely growing up, and that shows up in the workplace as sometimes "uninterested." In fact, this even shows up in resumes, introverts are 68% more likely to NOT highlight themselves well on paper (layer on the overall confidence gap and the impact of COVID and the numbers get even higher).
Here's what you can do next year to help you show up and stand out more:
Know your strengths: As an introvert, you may not be the most comfortable speaking up in meetings or presenting in front of a group. However, you likely have other strengths that can make you valuable to your team. Take some time to reflect on what you are good at and find ways to showcase those skills. For example, if you excel at writing, offer to take on a project that involves creating a report or proposal. Introverts often excel at written communication and are able to clearly articulate their thoughts and ideas in writing. Bringing ideas to the table that are aligned with your company goals will showcase your value.
Take your time to think and process, in fact, schedule it on your calendar. As an introvert myself, I have learned to schedule downtime and reflection time after big engagements or events. Learn what works for you to still obtain your moment of peace even in the hustle and bustle of the workplace.
Find your authentic voice in the workplace and start to use it: While introverts may not be as comfortable speaking up in large groups, that doesn't mean you should shy away from contributing your ideas and thoughts. Find ways to share your perspective, whether it's through writing, small group discussions, or one-on-one conversations with your manager. I started to challenge myself to say at least one thing at each meeting by placing a post-it on my laptop with a reminder. Then it started to be 2 things I said, then 3, etc. I've also stated, " this meeting is great and a lot of detail was shared, as I am processing I look forward to sharing my feedback ad additional value adds post-meeting". It let people know I was invested but also allow me the space to process.
Network and build relationships: Networking can be intimidating for introverts, but it's an important part of building a successful career. Instead of trying to force yourself to attend large networking events, focus on building relationships with your colleagues and others in your industry. This can be as simple as having regular coffee chats or joining a professional organization related to your field. An article in Ladders said it best “You do not have to connect with everyone in the room but be strategic and select a few in which you can engage in meaningful dialogue.”
Practice self-promotion: It's important to let others know about your accomplishments and the value you bring to the team. This can be difficult for introverts, who may not feel comfortable talking about themselves. However, it's important to find ways to share your successes with others. This can be as simple as updating your LinkedIn profile or sharing your accomplishments in team meetings.
Pre-Plan your presence in meetings: Earlier, I made a note about processing and even provided a statement you could say, but what if the meeting is a decision-making meeting? But first, tell me if you relate..my biggest cringe was being put on the spot and asked for my thoughts mid-meeting. Like, wait...I haven't even processed the last point that was made, I was in the middle of writing notes, in fact- I'm still trying to determine if this meeting could've been an email ( insert Millennial sticking out here lol). Here's my tip, pre-plan what you want your impact to be prior to the meeting, ask for meeting outcomes once invited, and be prepared to share initial thoughts.
Take on leadership roles, in a way that's still authentic for you: Introverts can/do make great leaders, as they are often good listeners and can offer thoughtful, well-considered ideas. Look for opportunities to take on leadership roles, even if they are outside your comfort zone. This could be as small as leading a project or as big as taking on a managerial role. This also includes engaging with the teams you lead one on one or even letting your teams know how you are as a leader. The biggest leadership tip, if you are in a hiring position, hire a team that's diverse in thought and introversion, and extroversion - this will help you by maybe allowing the extroverted members of your team to shine in the areas they love and you can lead how you need too.
Now bring in the variable. Now that you understand more of your traits and the game plan for next year, there is one thing to note. If you were reading this and said, " I'm both introverted and extroverted" then this next sentence is for you. There is, finally, a third group, and here it is hard to say whether the motivation comes chiefly from within or without."
The overall point is, by embracing your strengths and finding ways to share your ideas and contribute to your team, you can stand out at work even if you are introverted.
Remember, it's not about being the loudest or most outgoing person in the room.
It's about finding your own unique way to make a difference and add value to your team and organization.
Let me know your thoughts below and what has helped you navigate the workplace, no matter if you are introverted or extroverted.
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