How Introverts Can Function Better in an Office Environment

Today's workplace seems to be geared towards extroverts. Outspokenness, self-confidence, and interpersonal communication are encouraged and admired. And because this style of interaction has become mainstream, introverts often feel overlooked and misunderstood. But they can be just as productive and innovative as their loud and confident counterparts.

Studies have shown that introverts often have above average analytical skills and are great problem solvers. They are also known to focus well and have a remarkable capacity for lateral thinking.


If you're an introvert, the following tips will help you to not only survive in the workplace but to thrive and receive the recognition you deserve. Plus, you’ll gain the respect of your boss and your colleagues too.


Let Others Know What You’re Working On


Introverts don’t like being in the spotlight. They tend to get on quietly with the job at hand, using the wealth of knowledge that they have accumulated while sitting quietly and listening. Often, they won’t even tell the rest of the team what they’re working on. As a result, competent individuals sometimes miss out on important roles and opportunities. Make sure that team leaders, in particular, know what you’re working on so that your valuable contribution doesn't go unnoticed.


Volunteer for Leadership Positions


Most introverts avoid leadership roles, but there is no reason why they can't step up more often. Putting yourself forward helps to establish your position in the team without having to be overly assertive. A leadership position means others will be more inclined to listen. Plus, many team members prefer an introverted leader because they to be more thoughtful in their decision making as well as being less impulsive.


Use Alternative Means of Communication


It’s become easier than ever for introverts to communicate without having actually to speak to colleagues in person. Thanks to modern technology, you can state your point of view without being interrupted. Introverts are also more comfortable with communicating via email, apps or notes. This can be a highly organised way of communicating with others in the workplace, with the bonus of creating a record of your communication. Try to keep your messages short and few though, as most people feel that they get way too many work emails already.


Schedule Regular Timeouts


As an introvert, you can sometimes feel overwhelmed by noise and bustle in the workspace. When forced to operate in a public work area, you should schedule quiet times to be alone and allow for the free flow of ideas. You'll work more efficiently if you take quiet time to recharge and unwind.


Don’t Let Negative Thoughts Accumulate


Introverts often don’t verbalise much, and this can lead to a build-up of resentment, stress and negative thoughts. It can also cause you to become restless and easily irritated by those around you. You need to make sure that you speak out when something is upsetting you, and don't hesitate to bounce your ideas off others in the team.


Practice for Meetings and Presentations


Introverts have a wealth of internal knowledge, but they need to practice getting it across clearly in public situations. Settings like meetings and times where public speaking may be necessary can be very stressful for introverts. This is partly because they prefer a more structured, less spontaneous setting in which to gather their thoughts.


One way around this is to prepare well in advance. If possible, request a meeting agenda and familiarise yourself with the subject matter. Make a list of ideas and thoughts that you want to get across. If you need to make a presentation, rehearsing beforehand will give you a sense of control and confidence.


Seek Out One-to-One Interactions


It’s often difficult for introverts to be noticed and heard in a group setting. You should start small with workplace interactions by connecting with colleagues on an individual basis. Teams may think that introverts are stand-offish because of their quiet ways, but this can be offset by building an office network person by person. For instance, by giving a message face to face instead of via email. Another way is to take lunch where one or two colleagues are sitting rather than eating alone at your desk.


Clean Up After Others


No, we’re not referring to washing the office coffee mugs! Many teams have projects and work items that have been overlooked or dropped by others. Extroverts tend to overextend themselves and become distracted, and they are usually the culprits who generate this unfinished business. Introverts are more focused and can earn a lot of respect if they pick up and finish these neglected projects. Just make sure to tell others that you’ve done the work so that you get the credit you deserve.


It’s a fact that group work is becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s workplace, yet introverts can still find plenty of opportunities to work independently. Turn these occasions to your advantage by using the time you’ve spent listening and gathering knowledge to complete the task at hand efficiently and well. Your work will then speak for you even when you remain silent.


Display Your Knowledge When Appropriate


Extroverts often mistakenly think that introverts don’t know very much because they don’t always show off their abilities. But your tendency to listen more and speak less enables you to learn new skills and improve on them continuously. Keep your talents and know-how at the ready, then share it at key moments.


The ability to observe can be used to your advantage as it allows you to absorb volumes of information. You can use this know-how to make informed, productive contributions to team discussions. This generates respect and will cause others to stop and listen when you speak.


It is possible for introverts to excel in today’s working environment. It may require a little extra effort on your part, but you can be a valuable member of the team, and make a real contribution to achieving its goals.


Extroverts need to realise that their quieter team members have much to offer and their value should not be underestimated. Once introverts begin to capitalise on their strengths and minimise their weak areas, they will certainly show their employers their true value.

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