Being an introvert in an extrovert’s world is no easy task. The office – God help you if you have one with an open-floor plan – can be an especially exhausting environment for folks who prefer to recharge alone. Thankfully, we have a few tips on how you can play up your strengths while still being yourself.
Turn down the pressure
By now you’ve had enough people in your life yapping at you to “step out of your comfort zone!” While these folks likely mean well and are trying to encourage you, it usually feels like they’re doing the opposite. Simply demanding that someone step out of their comfort zone is akin to telling them to stop being an introvert. Instead, turn down the pressure by taking small steps. You don’t need to suddenly put yourself out there for the rest of the world to see. What matters is that you’re doing enough to make your team and your supervisor notice your strengths. Do you have a brain-melting idea you’re dying to share, but you’re feeling uncomfortable blurting it out in the middle of a meeting? Write it down so you don’t forget it, and bring it up afterward in a smaller setting or send a clear-cut email about it to those involved.
Speaking of email, it’s often a great tool for introverts, who tend to have an easier time communicating through writing rather than a face-to-face chat. While it may not always be an option for your main mode of communication (you’ll undoubtedly have to deal with plenty of in-person meetings, evaluations, networking events and other unavoidable social situations throughout your career), it can be a welcome conversation starter when it’s an option. There are a few key things to remember
when penning professional emails, but above all, keep them positive and brief (you’re far more likely to get a quick response when you remember that this is a simple note and not the next great American novel).
Let your actions speak for you
That old adage about actions speaking louder than words? It still rings true, and just as much as ever in the workplace. Showcasing your talents can be a far easier way to play up your skills rather than sitting down and having a discussion about them. On top of that, highlighting your talents by actually using them is the most effective way to show off without having to go through the often grueling task of self-promotion.
Lead like an introvert
There’s a big misconception that it’s only the extroverts who make great leaders. While that may be the case for the captain of the cheerleading squad, there are plenty of introverts who are well-suited for professional leadership roles. Interestingly enough, it’s the traits most associated with introverts – creative, focused and diligent, to name a few – that often make them the ideal candidates for such positions. Of course, not every introvert is a leader nor has the desire to become one, but if it’s something you’ve considered, it’s time to stop brushing it off.
Constantly trying to fit into an extrovert’s world can be both mentally and emotionally draining. Try too hard to blend and it won’t be long before the job you once loved turns into one you’d rather quit. Before you waste your energy on such a pointless endeavor, realize that the office isn’t just a place for the extremely outgoing. You’re certainly not the only introvert in the room (even though it may feel that way at times) and there are a number of ways that you can let your talents shine without being everyone’s favorite lunch buddy. Take time each day to recharge in ways that motivate you.