The Secret Strength Of Introverts At Work

Secret Strength Of Introverts At Work

“The trick for introverts is to honor their styles instead of allowing themselves to be swept up by prevailing norms.” – Susan Cain

Which sounds like a dream job to you?

1. Spending your day brainstorming and chatting with co-workers in an open-plan office?

2. A day with no meetings and plenty of time to dive into a creative project by yourself?

If you picked option 2, you might be an introvert.

Who is an Introvert, actually?

Put simply, being introverted means you’re someone who is more sensitive to stimulation. Many introverts cherish deep thinking and reflection. Most of all, introverts often need periods of rest and recharging in order to do their best work.

It’s easy to imagine that introverts might see their qualities as a liability in their careers, especially when our culture glorifies hustle and charisma. (Don’t tell that to Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Marissa Mayer, and Michael Jordan, who are among history’s most successful introverts alongside Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt.)

Related: Why Introverts Make Great Leaders? 9 Science-Backed Reasons

The Rise of the Introverts

But take heart, dear introverts, because your time to shine is here. Growing recognition for the introvert movement, sparked by leaders like Susan Cain, means that different working styles are being embraced now more than ever.

You can bring your whole self to work, quiet qualities and all. Here’s how to leverage sensitivity to your advantage and thrive in the workplace:

1. Play To Your Strengths.

Your emotional intelligence, empathy, and communication savvy are skills that make you a loyal, valued team player (even if group work isn’t your favorite). Plus, your curiosity perfectly positions you to lead, so look for opportunities to exercise this creativity. Be the one to ask thoughtful questions that inspire people to think differently. You’ll soon be regarded as an innovator.

Believe it or not, introverts can be great salespeople precisely because they tend to be so skilled at building rapport, listening, and empathizing with customer needs. But be mindful when choosing a career that a job requiring lots of travel, excess noise, or distraction may not be the best fit for you.

The Secret Strength Of Introverts At Work

2. Focus On Energy Management, Not Time Management.

Work is infinite, but your energy isn’t. The secret to high performance as an introvert, then, is to optimize around your natural ebbs and flows.

For one week keep track of your workday activities. Rate how much each energizes you. Look for patterns in the times of day you feel most alert. Limit or eliminate tasks that drain you. Do more of what sustains you.

If you notice you’re more focused in the mornings, for example, start the day with writing or creative work that requires concentration before you even open your email.

I suggest to introverted clients that they leave a 15-minute buffer in between all appointments in order to give them wiggle room to decompress and replenish if needed. One of my clients created “office hours” to limit people dropping by during the day. It helped limit the number of interruptions to her work and gave her employees the confidence to know when to pop by to talk to her.

Don’t forget to make self-care part of your daily to-do list. For introverts, recharging is an important part of thriving in your job. Build in plenty of time for self-reflection about what you want in your career over the long term.

Related: 10 Ways For Introverts To Power Up At Work

3. Create The Right Conditions For Success.

Introverts are more sensitive to the environment around them. Curate a workspace that feels comfortable and calming to you. Small changes like natural lighting and using noise-canceling headphones can make a big difference in your mood and well-being.

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Melody Wilding, LMSW

Melody Wilding is the author of Trust Yourself: Stop Overthinking and Channel Your Emotions for Success at Work. Recently named one of Business Insider’s Most Innovative Coaches for her groundbreaking work on “Sensitive Strivers”, her clients include CEOs, C-level executives, and managers at top Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Amazon, and JP Morgan, among others. Melody has been featured in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal and is a contributor to Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Psychology Today, and Forbes. Melody is a licensed social worker with a Master's from Columbia University and a professor of Human Behavior at Hunter College. Learn more at melodywilding.comView Author posts