Career Corner: Being an Introvert in an Extrovert Workplace

Categories: Professional Development

introvert

Internal work dynamics rarely accommodate varying personalities.The loudest voice often times becomes the leading voice in an office causing valid but quieter heads to lay low.

But there’s a difference between being shy and introverted.

Shyness leads to being uncomfortable in new environments and/or meeting new people. Introverts can find themselves dealing with new people and experiences comfortably, but need to isolate themselves every now and then to recharge. On the other side, an extrovert finds their fuel by being around others and in high stimulating environments. 

In a work setting, being an introvert can lead to being misunderstood. They can be perceived as anti-social, standoffish and not a team player. For example in team meetings, the introvert may not always be ready to offer ideas meanwhile the extrovert will dominate the discussion. Based on appearance, it can seem like the introvert isn’t participating or interested in being a team player, while the extrovert is all in.

Yet when given an opportunity to be alone and focus on specific tasks, an introvert can come back and shine.

Their inability to need social interaction to recharge offers them an internal tool to be successful, while extroverts tend to need to be around others to find inspiration.

I would classify myself as an extrovert with introvert tendencies. I’ve worked with many friends who are classic introverts and I’ve seen first hand how their personalities are misunderstood for being anti-social. While I would be comfortable going to happy hour after work with some co-workers and clients, my introvert friends would want to go home after work to enjoy some solitude.

While we should all be measured by our merits at work, often times new opportunities or promotions are doled out by managers based on who they connect with over drinks or have heard more from in meetings than the person who rightfully suits that new role.

This is where an introvert may need to be strategic about how they are seen in the office.

Hopefully the deciding manager has an open door policy and an open mind such that the introvert could go in and discuss how their role and work is being overlooked, merely because the culture in the office tends to shine the brightest light on the loudest voice. Having an open dialogue about ways to create an inclusive environment that celebrates all personalities. This won’t be easy and the change won’t happen after one talk, but by bringing this to a manager’s attention hopefully it starts a change in direction that leads to a more comfortable workplace.

We all have our nuances and knowing how you tick is key to being successful and respectful of others. Take the time to gauge what you need to recharge and be aware of how others find ways to cope. Let’s lift each other up at work and see how much further we all strive together.