In this series we share some tips on how you can advance your career while staying true to your (introverted) self. The second installment shared some tips about how, as an introvert, you can find the right job that caters to your needs. This third installment wraps up the series by sharing tips on how to succeed in the workplace as an introvert.
We have compiled a (long) list of tips to help introverted individuals not just to get the desired job, but to succeed on their career paths. In order to keep this short and sweet and you focused on your, we split the tips into a small series of three blogposts according to the relevant phase:
Being Successful as an Introvert
A review in the Journal of Applied Psychology has shown that extroverts are generally paid more, promoted faster, and rated more positively by their colleagues and supervisors. Introverts and extroverts just have a different natural set of skills and traits. Both can learn a lot from each other and benefit from interactions. It is just a different type of diversity in the workplace and life in general. But advancing in your career is often tied to factors like visibility, communication, and networking – all things that do not come naturally to introverts, but can be learned.
The following tips can help you counteract what might be hindering your advancement in the workplace while catering to your needs.
Find your own work style
Everyone has a personal work style. Introverts may work best in quiet environments or with a structured schedule. Whatever it is: find what works best for you and communicate your needs to others. It’s time for introspection as the more you know yourself, the more you understand and are able to communicate your needs, which in turn helps you to communicate better in general.
Adapt the working environment
The importance of the right work environment cannot be emphasized enough. A noisy open-plan office is less suitable for many introverts and can trigger stress. Headphones or earplugs can help. Address your own needs with colleagues and look for places of retreat. Even if it means working a bit more from home.
Embrace alone time, take breaks
Introverts often need alone time to recharge their batteries. No reason to feel guilty about that. Awareness for the personal amounts of alone time needed is essential to function properly. Set aside specific times in the day or week for alone time, such as going for a taking a walk, practicing meditation or mindfulness, or simply taking a few minutes to breathe and reset.
Technology is your friend. Emails or instant messaging allows time to craft responses and avoid the stress of face-to-face interactions. And of course, it can provide for endless distraction during alone time. It can also allow the required peace for working in the form of headphones in a load working place.
Dealing with colleagues
Many introverts do not talk much about personal things. Extroverts, do. This can be used by introverted colleagues. Ask open-ended questions (so the conversation stays alive), instead of just listening and remember that passive listening could be perceived by the other person as disinterest. By actively engaging in the conversation and showing a genuine interest in what the other person is saying, you can build stronger relationships with your colleagues and overcome the perception of being unapproachable or aloof.
Get involved in conferences and meetings
Participating in conferences and meetings is important in order to be seen by colleagues and managers. To making contributing easier for you, write an e-mail to your supervisor your talking points. This way, introverts can overcome the initial hurdle of just having to speak up. Set yourself goals like speaking up twice in this and three times in the next meeting.
Someone misrepresents your idea as their own? Address it by saying something like “Thank you for taking up my suggestion. I’d like to discuss the idea further and share my thoughts on how we can implement it”. It is not ok for someone to “steal your thunder” just because you are less extroverted.
Network in a way that suits you
Networking can be essential for career advancement, but it can be overwhelming for introverts. Smaller events/groups cater better to the needs of introverts, as they gravitate towards real connections and meaningful conversations. Choose events that align with your interests and goals instead of attending every networking event or social gathering. Additionally, research the attendees in advance, choose who you want to talk to and connect with them beforehand. No response? That’s a conversation starter, too.
Maybe a one-to-one coffee is the right way for you to connect with someone before advancing to bigger and bigger groups?
Networking Online allows you to connect with others at your own pace 😉
Introverts may sometimes struggle to assert themselves in the workplace, but learning to do so can be crucial to career advancement, making assertiveness a key skill. Practice it in everyday situations, such as expressing your opinion in a meeting or setting boundaries with a colleague.
Assertiveness is not being aggressive, but rather expressing yourself confidently and respectfully.
Embrace your strengths
Introverts often have great listening skills, are reflective and analytical, and can work independently. These qualities can be valuable in many job roles and by recognizing and highlighting their strengths, introverts can build confidence and advance their careers on their own terms. Reflect on your personal strengths, embrace your strengths and use them to your advantage in the workplace.
Introverts often struggle with self-promotion, but it’s important to advocate for yourself in order to advance in your career. Practice talking about your accomplishments and skills in a way that feels comfortable to you. You can also ask others to share their positive feedback about you with others.
Don’t be afraid to say “no”
Introverts often feel pressure to say yes to social events or work projects, even when they do not really want to. It is okay to say no and set boundaries for yourself. Prioritize your own well-being and work on projects that align with your strengths and interests.
Seek out mentors
Having a mentor who can offer guidance and support can be incredibly beneficial for introverts, especially when it comes to networking and building relationships with colleagues. Look for someone who shares your interests and values and who has experience in your field.
Do Introverts Need to Change?
The take-away of this series shall not be that introverts need to turn into extroverts. The very clear answer to whether introverts need to change to a more extroverted personality is in fact “no” – they just need to develop skills and strategies that play to their strength and let them navigate the extroverted aspects of our world with more ease. And this is true in reverse for extroverts as well 😉
Like with many other things in life, authenticity is key. If you are an introvert, you will never completely change into an extrovert while staying true to yourself, and that is more than ok. See it rather as a new language one has to learn or turning the dials on a stereo so the base is exactly as one wants it to be.
We sincerely hope that all the tips shared in this series will help you understand what “language” your future employer needs to speak to fit your awesomeness and that the tips will help you fine-tune those dials to have your workplace play the perfect tune for you. Rock on!