Introverts are some of the most misunderstood people groups in business, often over looked due to the way they process information, socialise and contribute to teams. In general extraverts are more visible in the work environment in comparison to introverts and this inevitably leads them to be front of mind when decisions are made regarding who should lead projects or receive promotions.
According to Jennifer Kahnweiler in her book “The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength” there are number of growth paths introverts should take to be more successful:
Talk about your performance
Introverts prefer to let their work speak for itself however many leaders are too busy to stay in touch with every project, especially in enough detail to let them see what a good job you’re doing. Introverts should learn to develop the skills to clearly communicate their performance to their leaders. Using opportunities as they arise to be seen as a valuable contribution to the team.
Plan solitary time carefully
Most business activities are very social. Meetings, collaborations, networking and open plan environments can become exhausting and overwhelming for introverts. Its common for introverts to choose corner desks in open plan environments or to never exit their office unless necessary. This can be quite detrimental to an introvert as it cuts them off from people and can leave them with weak business relationships that limit their ability to affect positive change in the organisation. However if introverts simply just embrace social gatherings and activities all day long they will battle to recharge which will leave them ineffective and exhausted in the long run. So introverts need to think carefully about planning their solitary time, protecting it in order to recharge, but also forcing themselves into environments that help them build relationships and collaborate effectively with their teams.
Beware of being aloof
Extravert leaders have often complained to me that introverts people are unengaged and aloof. This is primarily due to the extravert ability to contribute quickly into a problem by throwing ideas around. Introverts prefer to consider all aspects of the problem before offering a solution. The time they take to dissect and resolve the problem without contributing to the collective discussion can come across as unengaged. So introverts could be aware that when they engage in the business, it may not be clear to others that you are engaged. Find ways to communicate to the team that you’re engaged and are simply needing some time to process. Introverts can do a lot to repair the impression of aloofness by simply communicating their process to the team and when they could expect some input from you by.
Remember that in the absence of communicating to the team, the team will be forced to assume that you are uninterested and unengaged.
Play to your listening strength
Be aware that as an introvert you are a better listener than the extrovert. Extroverts are often planning their next thing to say, where introverts are listening to the conversation, collecting information in order to process it later. This can be a huge asset in meeting and team dynamics. The introverts ability to listen can make them a great source of understanding all the voices present in the meeting, allowing each view to be accurately presented.
Introverts shy away from presenting, leading discussions and networking parties. All these engagements can be daunting and overwhelming. However by preparing for these engagements you can make sure your voice is heard and that you get the most out of these activities. Read meeting minutes, reports and agendas to understand what discussions will be tabled and develop you opinion before hand, plan your contribution to the discussion and jump into the conversation early to make sure you’re heard.
Plan small talk conversations at networking parties, identify the people you’d like to speak to and be proactive in making that connection. Use networking websites to learn more about people and find useful ways to strike up conversation with the right people. Use your strength of driving deeper conversations to you advantage by using small talk to build enough report to begin the more interesting conversation.
Planning your approach in these more extraverted activities can ensure your success. It will speed up your response time and over time will improve your more extraverted skills sets.
In essence, introverts can use simple skills like planning, listening, time-management and communication to better engage with extroverted people. Building relationship and report that will help them succeed in their roles and careers.