With workplaces opened up to total capacity, the introverts among us may not embrace this news with open arms. After all, hasn’t it been two years of work-from-home where ‘making small talk’ is not reasonably needed in a group setting? Or settling into a routine where your working colleagues (ie family and children), understood the ‘right time’ to chat you up? It’s also been two years of solo coffee runs, alone time at the pantry (at home and not in the office) and quiet rides in the lift (no talking in public spaces)!
Unfortunately, most workplaces are designed for extroverts- the movers and shakers, the gregarious, engaged and assertive leaders. Often, they will thrive and shine in work environments where collaboration and networking are crucial to getting stuff and deals done.
What can we do for the introverts among us to make the workplace less daunting?
Extroverts often feel energised in an environment with total stimulation or the 3 Cs- crowd, chatter and cheer. On the other hand, introverts will feel depleted in an environment like this and will need the absence of stimulation to recharge.
Find time in your workday to recharge. For example, put on your headphones and sit alone at lunch. Take solo coffee runs. If your office is near a park, take a short stroll alone as a break. This is also an excellent way to fit in some stretches and movement so that you won’t have a stiff neck.
During these quiet moments, you can do the next thing, which is to focus on your introverted strengths.
As an introvert, your strength lies in your little need to talk for talking. You are not vying for attention and looking for the first opportunity to speak. Instead, you will pay attention to verbal and nonverbal communication and reflect. Through observation and listening, introverts will then process and analyse for solutions.
And how can you offer your feedback comfortably? If the culture welcomes virtual interaction, you can do so in an email. But if a face-to-face conversation is necessary, then practice! Role-play with a trusted friend or colleague or play the scenario in your head. Prep some points that can help you in your ‘presentation’ and make you appear less flustered.
But don’t take too long to offer your feedback. Otherwise, others may view your strength as inattentiveness and passiveness.
Most introverts don’t need to hog the limelight when working in teams. Instead, they are more likely to express their appreciation to team members for their successes. This makes introverts more enjoyable to work with and builds a lot of goodwill with their colleagues. This goodwill can make future work collaborations easier to manage.
As an introvert, you are more likely to prefer interacting with others one-on-one. Your good listening skills will express your genuine interest in getting to know the other person. This will allow you to reap the benefits of networking, where authentic relationships, more often than not, will create stronger connections for future work collaborations or prospects.
Clearly, as an introvert, there are many traits you can be proud of. So long as you know how to socially and professionally manoeuvre your way, the workplace will be less daunting, and you can still dazzle your bosses in your own (introverted) way.
Editing is my work.