Why Introverts are the Quiet Dominators of the Office
Introverts get a bad rep around the office but let’s be honest, if everyone was an extrovert who was always “on,” the workday would be a thousand times more exhausting to get through. There are only so many long meetings, social lunches and after-hours networking parties a person can experience before collapsing in an exhausted heap on the floor.
The office introvert, on the other hand, likes to keep things short, sweet and running smoothly without much fanfare. It’s why the quiet and reflective introvert is the true ruler of the office over their more garrulous counterparts. Thanks in part to Susan Cain’s groundbreaking book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”, the somewhat negative image of introverts as shy, mousey people who cannot look another person in the eye is quickly disappearing.
Personal experience as an introvert
Your blog author is a classic introvert. Yet, many people would never classify me as shy since I left my teenage years in college. I fit in just fine at parties and can small talk with just about anyone over any subject, but I’m not demonstrable about it. I’ve been known to blend in at times (despite being 6’3” and 240-lbs and fond of bright red Kansas City Chiefs clothing) and I rarely speak first in meetings. Ok, I NEVER speak first in meetings. But I’ve been fighting this “introvert = shy wallflower who gets walked over” thing forever.
One of the best tests I’ve ever read about whether or not someone is an introvert is this one from Psychology Today, “Nine Signs You’re Really an Introvert”, written by Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., and I have to say it is nails, as I fit eight of her nine signs to a T.
But, back to the office … there are reasons people need to appreciate the abilities of that quiet guy or gal who sits through meetings without saying much … would rather eat lunch alone instead of with a big group … or prefers to skip the after work office social happy hour for a hot cup of tea at home. Introverts get things done!
Here are five ways introverts are the quiet power brokers in the office:
Communication skills are critical for everyone on the corporate ladder, and while extroverts may dominate the verbal aspect of the skill, introverts make better listeners. Active listening skills are one key to creating the healthiest and happiest work relationships.
They make fantastic managers and supervisors.
Introverts are focused on getting the job done and don’t care as much about who gets the credit – unlike the extrovert who loves the spotlight and attention. Introverts are more likely to assemble a great team and give them the room to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. Not only will that get the job at hand done, but it leads to a happier and more productive workplace.
Introverts are more creative in finding solutions to problems.
Because introverts are, by definition, naturally more reflective, they tend to be more creative. Creativity is often the most essential tool in problem solving difficult challenges, and introverts are already hardwired to do it.
They aren’t antisocial – in fact, they’re the opposite.
Introversion has nothing to do with being shy or not wanting to be around people, but it has everything to do with the how sensitive a person is to stimulation. Introverts enjoy interacting with people as much as any extrovert, but they don’t feel the need to do it 24/7. In the office, they’ll enjoy building relationships throughout every department. Since they tend not to step on other people’s toes, those relationships will be some of the strongest in the company.
Introverts are happiest collaborating … seriously!
Have you ever been on a work team with the company extrovert? Or worse yet … several of them? Their potentially overwhelming presence alone is enough to kill any chance of creative energy. It always becomes a battle to take control of the team which takes precedent over getting things done. Introverts, on the other hand, often enjoy collaboration. With small groups, they’re comfortable sharing their ideas to complete the project quickly.
This isn’t to say that extroverts don’t have their own strengths in the workplace, because they certainly do. However, the stigma that office introverts lived with throughout the last few decades is going the way of flip phones and fax machines.