Celebrating introverts at work
Photo by Vlada Karpovich
Do you feel most alive in the company of others and the excitement of bustling social events? Or do you enjoy the peaceful serenity of a cosy night spent indoors?
Perhaps you have that one friend or colleague who chats away for hours and thrives in large, vibrant gatherings or you know someone who loves nothing more than spending hours lost in the pages of a gripping novel.
As an introvert, I’m definitely in the latter camp, and recently, I had the pleasure of doing a skills share on this thought-provoking topic at work.
During the skills share, I was able to delve deeper into the differences between introversion and extroversion and how understanding these traits can help individuals and teams work together more effectively.
Embracing our differences
We often hear the terms “introvert and extrovert” thrown around in our everyday conversations, but what do they really mean? And more importantly, how do they affect the way we perceive the world, and show up in our personal and professional lives?
At their core, introversion and extroversion are simply two different ways of engaging with the world. Introverts tend to be more introspective, finding solace in quieter moments, while extroverts feed off the energy of those around them.
Breaking the stereotypes
According to studies conducted over the years, it is estimated that introverts make up about one third of our population, and while each person’s experience is unique to them, the quieter, more reflective nature of introverted people can be overshadowed by the extroverted voices around them. From classrooms to boardrooms, introverts may feel like they’re swimming against the tide, trying to find a place to anchor amidst all the hustle and bustle.
Introverts also have an inner world full of treasures that are often overlooked by the loud and fast-paced society we live in. They have a knack for seeing things differently, delving deeper into ideas and concepts, and finding beauty in the small things. They also make great listeners, empathetic friends, and creative thinkers.
Susan Cain is a trailblazing author and former corporate lawyer whose work has sparked a revolution for introverts. Her groundbreaking book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, challenges the notion that extroverts are the only ones who can succeed in our dynamic society.
Drawing from her lived experiences and extensive research into the topic, Cain has shown that introverts have a valuable perspective that is often overlooked. Her work has helped to shed light on the strengths and contributions of introverts and has empowered them to embrace their unique qualities with confidence.
While it’s true that introverts may feel more comfortable in quieter settings, introversion is so much more than that – it’s about how we process information and recharge our energy.
It’s a valuable personality trait that describes a preference for reflection and solitude, and a need to recharge through alone time.
It’s one thing to talk about the strengths of introverts in theory, but what about real-world examples? The truth is, there are countless successful introverts out there, from business leaders to artists to scientists.
And it’s not just in the world of business and entertainment. Many famous scientists, including Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin, were introverts who spent much of their time in solitude, pondering the mysteries of the universe.
Introverts in the workplace
Introverts have a lot of valuable strengths to offer. But how do these strengths translate to the workplace? Well, it turns out that introverts can make exceptional employees and leaders, even in fields that are typically associated with extraversion.
For example, an introvert’s tendency to think deeply and focus on details can make them excellent researchers, writers, and analysts. Their ability to listen well and understand others’ perspectives can make them empathetic managers and effective collaborators. And their preference for quiet spaces and independent work can make them productive and creative problem-solvers.
While introverts can face challenges in the workplace, they also bring unique strengths and benefits to a team. Here are just a few:
- Creative problem-solving: Introverts are often skilled at looking at problems from different angles and finding creative solutions. Their ability to think deeply and reflect on information can lead to innovative and effective solutions.
- Listening skills: Introverts often excel at listening and observing, which can make them great team players. By paying attention to others and their needs, introverts can create a supportive and collaborative work environment.
- Thoughtful decision-making: Introverts tend to make decisions thoughtfully and carefully, weighing all the options before taking action. This can lead to more successful outcomes and can prevent hasty or impulsive decisions.
Creating a workplace that values and supports introverts can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be.
In fact, it’s often the little things that can make a big difference in helping introverts feel comfortable and valued in the workplace.
First, it’s important to recognise that introverts often work best in quiet and calm environments. Providing designated quiet spaces, like private offices or quiet rooms, can help introverts recharge and work more efficiently.
Another way to support introverts is by offering alternative communication channels, such as email or messaging platforms, in addition to in-person meetings and conversations. This allows introverts to have time to process information and formulate their thoughts before responding, which can lead to more productive and meaningful conversations.
It’s also important to recognise and celebrate the unique strengths that introverts bring to the workplace, such as their ability to think deeply and creatively, and their strong listening skills. Acknowledging and valuing these strengths can go a long way in making introverts feel appreciated and valued.
Ever since I’ve started working at Pomegranite, I’ve felt that the company culture truly cares about accommodating introverts like myself by providing an inclusive, supportive and welcoming environment. For example, I suggested that meeting invitations include a brief description of the meeting, and my team loved the idea. It has helped us all come to meetings more prepared and ready to participate fully.
As an introvert, this change has been especially meaningful for me as I often need more time to process information and formulate my thoughts before speaking up, so having a better understanding of the meeting’s purpose ahead of time has helped me feel more engaged during discussions.
Their commitment to creating an inclusive and supportive workplace that values and supports everyone, regardless of their personality type, has made a significant difference in my experience.
I believe that the company’s focus on open communication and collaboration is key to our success as a team, and the accommodation of different work styles makes for a more productive and fulfilling work environment for everyone.