When looking at the introversion-extroversion personality trait in the workplace, there seems to be this consistency that depicts introverts as the weaker, more vulnerable of the two…this notion that the poor little introvert lives in an extrovert’s world, trying to get by.
Now, I’m not suggesting that one trait is better than the other, they both have very distinct strengths, but the advantages of working with introverts may at times be less obvious, probably because… well, they themselves can be less obvious, too.
So, to help shed some light, here are 6 reasons why you should love working with introverts.
Working with introverts means there’s a good chance that someone will not be invading your personal space. Since they appreciate their alone time, secluded from constant distractions and the spotlight, they too will likely respect the privacy of others, especially those they don’t know on a personal level, like colleagues.
Introverts don’t need to feed off of the energy of their co-workers, therefore are less likely to bombard you with questions and ideas, or spent way too much time giving you a play-by-play of something you could have gone without knowing in such detail.
Working with introverts means never having to say “geez, will he ever stop talking so I can finish my work?!” Ok maybe that’s a bit excessive, but you get the idea!
Introverts won’t just say anything. Have you ever been in a group meeting with an introvert, where everyone is talking and exchanging, sometimes talking over one another, stealing the spotlight. Then the introvert opens his mouth and says something so pertinent, so valuable, that even with minimal verbal participation, he made a big contribution?
It’s the same way; your introverted colleague or employee may remain discreet, even reserved in a social setting, until he/she delivers this amazing “one liner”, so well-planned and perfectly executed. They may not say a lot, but when they actually do it can be very significant.
So there’s a very good chance that when your introverted employee actually does speak up, it will be relevant, and probably well thought-out. Give it a bit of time, and try to initiate more contact when working with introverts.
Just keep in mind that sometimes less is more!
Don’t assume that just because someone isn’t very demonstrative or vocal, that they are not being affected by what’s around them, or that they are contributing less to the environment.
Introverts generally have this natural capacity to listen, to really absorb what someone else is saying. They are more at ease in silence, so capable of giving the time needed for another person to gather thoughts and speak up.
Being good listeners also helps them to better understand and detect the needs of internal and external clients. They might not win over prospects with their expressive nature or social exuberance, but they can succeed in other ways, such as shifting the focus on the client and making them feel heard and understood.
If you’ve ever worked in an open-plan office, you’ve probably witnessed firsthand some of the differences of working with introverts and extroverts.
Simply put, there’s a better chance you will feel less distracted or side-tracked when you are surrounded by introverts. This means less lengthy conversations around the photocopier, outward expressions, whether happy or sad, or people constantly bouncing their ideas off of you.
I am not saying that an extrovert’s natural capacity to be drawn towards people, or to prefer frequent interactions, is always a source of distraction, but that the introvert’s tendency to be drawn to their inner world may reduce the amount of colleagues around them needing to wear noise-cancelling headsets to concentrate.
If your organization doesn’t demand a whole lot of group work, or needs someone who can remain motivated and working hours on end by themselves, introverts are your solution. When tasks require seclusion or high levels of solitary focus, introverts get their energy from such work.
You can take comfort knowing that they are much more likely to thrive when given the opportunity to think in their private space. And it’s more than just the occasional “I need time for myself”. Being alone (or in a very small group) is usually preferred, so don’t assume that they are lonely! They may feel more alone in a crowded room of strangers.
Introverts get a lot of their energy from themselves, which can sometimes make it easier for managers who can’t always supply their employees with enough social settings or group work/activities they so desire.
If you are lucky enough to pierce through an introvert’s bubble, you will see that there are deep relationships to be made. These false assumptions that they are cold and distant can be cast aside when given the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with them and truly get to know and understand their internal world.
When workings with introverts, don’t assume that just because they didn’t go out of their way to say good morning to everyone, or share aspects of their weekend or personal life to others, that they don’t like people.
Why do we tend to favour the more outgoing and expressive personalities, especially in interviews? We forget to look at introverts as being the tip of the iceberg…that there are so much more to them than what’s displayed on the surface.
And building a solid relationship is no exception. The difference is that they won’t just let anyone in. Introverts may look at the quality of their relationships more than the quantity.
So before overlooking or worrying about working with introverts, remember their natural capacity to respect your space, deliver meaningful and concise information, and be less distracting. Don’t underestimate their ability to form deep relationships, and remember that just because something isn’t so apparent or in-your-face, doesn’t mean it’s less important or performing.
Do you have the means necessary to detect the potential of your introverted employees?
What qualities have you discovered while working with introverts?