9 Tips for Introverts in the Workplace
Let’s face it: In the workplace, fortune often favors the extroverts. The more extroverted among us are more easily noticed, and they are also more likely to take on managerial roles—and the better money that comes with them.
Meanwhile, if you’re an introvert trying to make yourself seen and heard at work, you know the struggle of pushing past your quieter, more reflective tendencies. It’s a silent battle that few give you credit for.
It’s not that extroverted people are better at their jobs—they simply excel at the interpersonal skills that can be the difference between two workers when both are up for a promotion. If you’re an introvert, here are 10 ways you can still shine at work:
Discuss your ambitions with your managers
Susan Cain, a famous advocate on behalf of introverts in the workplace, says that introverts like her are often passed over for promotions to leadership positions because it isn’t clear they have managerial ambitions.
If you do have your sights set on leadership, you don’t have to be loud and forceful about it, but you do have to be clear. Be proactive: Meet with your current manager and discuss your short- and long-term goals, emphasizing that you want to be considered for promotions and more ambitious roles.
Find suitable ways to share your insights
Most introverts won’t brag or otherwise publicly highlight their accomplishments in ways that come easy to extroverts. But if you want to be recognized for your work, you will have to find an approach to publicizing yourself.
If you’re not into outright self-promotion, create opportunities that feel suitable for sharing your work, such as giving presentations to your team, or writing a blog post for the company site. These more subtle avenues of promotion may better fit your personality.
Plan ahead of time to contribute to meetings
Whether it’s a team-wide meeting or a one-on-one with a manager or peer, you’ll typically have an idea of what’s on the agenda before you step into the conference room.
Prepare for each meeting by writing down a few questions or comments about the topic at hand, and rehearse what you’ll say when asked for a contribution.
Look to make an impact in small groups
You may not want to be the star player in company-wide meetings or in other large-group settings, but you can make small groups your time to play a big role. Convene or take part in meetings of smaller groups of people and use those settings to make impactful contributions and decisions.
Volunteer for leadership positions
As anyone who works in an office knows, there is no shortage of intra-office leadership roles that appear throughout the course of a work week, month, or year. As an introvert, you can claim one of these roles and make it your own with relatively little fanfare.
Maybe it’s spearheading the company holiday party, re-organizing the company’s seating arrangements, or scheduling a talk from a speaker or visiting business leader. Any opportunity you have to lead, decide, or delegate can be a chance to practice for even bigger duties.
Take control of your personality narrative
Introverts are sometimes seen as aloof or detached. Similar to reaching out to your managers to express your ambitions, you can also reach out to them to take control of your story. Explain that you’re not apathetic and that shouldn’t discount you from being included on projects or in important conversations.
Taking the initiative to explain your feelings is better than letting others make assumptions. And if they know what to expect from you, they won’t make those assumptions in the first place.
Find what makes you passionate about your job
It’s true that a lot of workplace interaction centers around small talk—not exactly an introvert’s forte. But whether you’re an introverted small business owner who needs to hold court with clients to get their business, or a quiet new employee trying to make inroads with your co-workers, you don’t need to settle for small talk. Find areas of interest that you’re passionate about—trends in your industry, or new technologies—and use these to springboard into meaningful conversations that you find easier to navigate. Quite simply, when you’re passionate about a topic, it’s easy to talk about it.
Build time for yourself into your schedule
Working in an office, with all the social interaction and pressure that comes with it, can be taxing for introverts. Just as some people build coffee meetings and big lunches into their schedules, you can and should respect your own needs for alone time and build breaks into your schedule.
Whether it’s closing the door to your office, taking a walk, or coming in a little early to work quietly before the cacophony begins, block out the time and let people know you’d prefer to keep to yourself in those moments. By giving yourself that precious time, you’ll find yourself energized for the rest of the day.
Don’t let it prevent you from taking on challenges
Being introverted is a personality type—not a crutch. Once you’ve established yourself and your preferences in the workplace or to clients, you may find it tempting to use this label as an easy way to get out of things. After-work drinks? No way. A new position opens up that requires interfacing more with customers? That role isn’t for me, I’m introverted.
Not being interested in certain situations or opportunities is one thing, but fear of the unknown is another. Don’t let your introverted tendencies prevent you from taking on new responsibilities.
Being introverted is common, and many of us “fake it ‘til we make it” by pretending to be more extroverted. Lean into who you are and embrace the traits that have brought you where you are today. Those same traits can help you rise in the workplace—you just have to know how to use them.
This guest post was authored by Meredith Wood.
Meredith Wood is the Editor-in-Chief at Fundera, an online marketplace for small business loans that matches business owners with the best funding providers for their business. Specializing in financial advice for small business owners, Meredith is a current and past contributor to Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, SCORE, AllBusiness and more