Conventional wisdom tells us that extroverts will always out-perform their introverted colleagues in the workplace. With all due respect to convention, we think that’s hogwash! Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are titans of the business world and yet they are also introverts. Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt are two other notable introverts who were highly successful. The list of incredibly successful introverts is a long one. And if you are also an introvert, there’s no reason why your name shouldn’t be on that list too. For introverts, success in business is a function of maximizing your strengths. Here are a few tips to get you going in the right direction.
1. Let Your Work Speak: While it’s true that introverts may be less vocal than extroverts, it’s also true that even the most introverted people can produce amazing results. Introverts, by nature, are deep thinkers. Use that ability to your advantage. Seek out projects that require a deeper level of thought and consideration. If these projects also require less face-time and team interaction you may find that others don’t want to volunteer for them. Taking on challenging initiatives can help you build a reputation based on results.
2. Look for Support: Contrary to popular opinion, introverts are not socially inept. Rather, they prefer more meaningful, one-on-one social situations instead of more superficial group interactions. Play on this strength by getting to know someone within your organization at a deeper level. Someone who can provide support, advice, mentoring and when needed, be an advocate for you and the value you bring to the company.
3. Be Prepared to Speak Up: It is inevitable that at some point, an introvert will need to lead a discussion, present to a group or provide an opinion. This type of public speaking can be a great challenge for someone who would prefer to let others do the talking. The best way to overcome any hesitation about moving outside your comfort zone is to always be prepared to speak if necessary. Review the materials, understand the issues and ensure you are ready to go if the spotlight lands on you. This preparation will help calm your mind and allow you to focus on delivering the right message in the most effective way.
4. Use Your Listening Power: Introverts make excellent listeners. This is a skill that many of their more extroverted colleagues lack. All people want to be heard and understood, and introverts are uniquely qualified to meet that need. Become a sounding board for others. Or the go-to person on your team when someone needs to talk through a challenging situation. This ability to listen and respond in thoughtful, meaningful ways is one of the greatest gifts that introverts have. Use it to your advantage.
5. Make Some Me Time: As we have said, introverts are not socially inept. They do well in social situations. But there is a catch. Social situations are taxing for most introverts. A day full of meetings, brainstorming sessions and constant interaction with colleagues can drain an introvert of energy. So be sure to set aside at least a few minutes a day for some down time. Get out of the office and go for a walk. Find a quiet spot to be alone. For introverts, these moments of solitude and peace can help recharge the social battery and make a day of heavy interpersonal interaction not only bearable, but successful.