Are you the type to dread meeting new people? Perhaps you find it a challenge to engage in small talk at networking events. In fact, social interactions generally exhaust you and you much prefer getting work done by yourself.
If all of the above apply to you, it is mostly likely that you are an introvert.
Many would think that extroverts, being more outspoken and sociable, might perform better in an organisation. However, an introvert could actually be the key to strike a balance in the workplace and they could do just as well. If you are an introvert who is looking to stay true to yourself while succeeding in your career, here are some tips:
1) Choose an Area of Work That Allows You to Shine
Introverts usually work best in quiet environments with minimal distractions, and where less face-to-face interaction with other people is required. Hence, introverts could consider a career as a designer, computer programmer or accountant – any profession that allows them to produce their work in peace and quiet.
Introverts could take this into account when seeking employment. For those who are already employed, do consider if there might be other positions in your current company that better suit your introverted nature.
2) Recognise Your Strengths
Know what you do best and use that to your advantage. Introverts tend to be good listeners and observers, and this often gives them better clarity and insights into topics being discussed. As such, in meetings where everyone is eager to have their say, introverts can simply shine by paying close attention to what is going on and weighing in with a few important questions and different perspectives.
The founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, had this to say about the qualities of an introvert: “I think introverts can do quite well. If you’re clever, you can learn to get the benefits of being an introvert, which might be, say, being willing to go off for a few days and think about a tough problem, read everything you can, push yourself very hard to think out on the edge of that area.”
3) Let Your Work Do the Talking
If self-promotion does not come naturally to you, it is important that you perform consistently at work to get the recognition you deserve. You could also consider taking on new assignments related to your area of expertise. This will help your supervisor catch on and reward you for your efforts accordingly.
4) Do Not Shy Away From Leadership Roles
When looking for a project leader, many default to the stereotype of someone bold, confident and outspoken. However, Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, states that introverts actually do exceedingly well in leadership roles as their quiet nature appears less of a threat. Employees are often inclined to report to someone who is willing to be their sounding board and cultivate their ideas. The next time there is an opportunity to lead, consider taking it up and you might be surprised by what you are truly capable of.
5) Managing the Level of Social Interaction at Work
It is not possible to completely avoid social interaction at work. What introverts can do, then, is manage the level of social interaction they have to be involved in within a day. You could start by setting aside a designated ‘me’ time at work. This could be a coffee break at your desk after a stint that required intense concentration, or spacing out your meetings with colleagues.
6) Take the Initiative to Communicate
It can be easy for introverts to go off the radar, especially when they are not vocal. Make the effort to update your supervisors proactively on your contributions at work. Another suggestion is to be the person to get the ball rolling at meetings. Share your comments as early into the meeting as possible, because it will be harder to do so when everyone else starts shooting their ideas across the table.
7) One-On-One Connections Go a Long Way
Networking meetings may be dreaded, but are necessary for business opportunities. If you are uncomfortable making small talk in a group, try individual conversations instead. Divide the room into smaller sections and tackle them at your own pace. Establishing a few good connections is better than scrapping the surface with many.
At the end of the day, there is no need to see introversion as a disadvantage to your professional life. By playing to your strengths and finding ways to excel in your own way, you can find great success at work while being an introvert.
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