What do Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett, Hillary Clinton, Michael Jordan, and President Barack Obama all have in-common? Besides being extremely successful individuals, they’re all introverts.
Introverts get a bad rap. They’re sometimes considered shy or standoffish. But, in reality, introverts are actually more successful than extroverts since they generally focus on one goal at-a-time and know the power of anonymity. In fact, Susan Cain, author of the New York Times best-seller "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking," informed U.S. News that, "The popular stereotype of attorneys is of bold showmen who take courtrooms by storm.” Cain added, "But the best lawyers in my firm were deep, careful thinkers, who had a natural tendency to think through ramifications."
Cain said that the main difference between introverts and extraverts “is that introverts recharge their batteries by being alone, while extroverts recharge them in company – often, a lot of company. Many introverts have great social skills, but they still feel depleted by too much socializing.”
However, introverts and extraverts also think differently. “Extroverts tend to be quick-thinking multitaskers who lean toward impulsiveness and quick gratification; introverts like to process slowly and deeply before they speak or act, and are comfortable with delayed gratification.” Cain also noted that “Introverts tend to function best in quiet autonomous environments, while extroverts do well in noisier, more stimulating situations.”
Despite having the ability to succeed in the workplace, it can still be challenging for introverts when the environment isn’t conducive to them. To overcome those challenges, here are eight ways that introverts can succeed in the workplace.
1. Establish a Game Plan
Introverts just can’t wing a presentation or hosting a meeting. They need to prepare in advance. One way is to take public speaking classes. There’s probably a class at your local community college, but you can also use organizations like Toastmasters.
Besides joining public classes, don’t hesitate to volunteer to host a meeting or give a team presentation. This not only allows you to practice and overcome your fear of public speaking, it ensures that you control the meeting since you’ll be creating the agenda.
When you do host the meeting, prepare for it in advance. Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, Ph.D. suggests for the American Management Association that you “Prepare for high-stakes meetings and conversations by anticipating possible questions and rehearsing your responses. Just as you strategize for key projects and tasks, you need to plan ahead for connecting with people.”
2. Use the Right Forum So That Your Voice Can Be Heard
Thanks to social media and email you don’t always have to network or meet with people face-to-face. While there may be circumstances when you do have to do some networking in the flesh, connecting and exchanging ideas with others on Twitter or LinkedIn is extremely refreshing for the introvert.
And, finally, if you didn’t speak up at a meeting, you can always send your team an email with your thoughts and ideas following the meeting.
3. Let Your Work Speak For Itself
“The people who have the most impact aren’t the ones who are promoting themselves. They’re the ones that other people are promoting,” writes Nancy Ancowitz in “Self-Promotion for Introverts: The Quiet Guide to Getting Ahead.”
Since introverts don’t strive to live in the spotlight, they let their work do the talking for them. If it’s incredible, you don’t have to boast about your accomplishments. Others will gladly do that for you.
4. Take Introvert Breaks Throughout the Day
Ancowitz also tells Monster.com that introverts need to allow themselves “to recharge their energy during the day.” She adds, “As an introvert, you may not be well-suited to back-to-back meetings and constant conversations. [So] find time to step out of the office, even for a walk around the block, to gather your thoughts and refuel before your next meeting.”
Whether if it’s the restroom, copy room, or going for a walk by yourself during your lunch break, make the time to step away from others and get back in-tune with yourself.
5. Establish a Workflow Process With Others
Jennifer Purdie says in SUCCESS that “Introverts work better in more regulated workplaces.” If you have a manager who micromanages you, for example, you should set-up daily or weekly meetings with them that take place at the same exact time.
Furthermore, you should block off a couple hours a day where you don’t receive any sort of notifications from email, instant messages, or social media. These blocks of time not only prevent you from getting distracted, it’s a simple way for you to recharge from your co-workers and build up your fortifications.
Entertainer Victor Borge once said, “A smile is the shortest distance between two people.”
If you want your peers to stop perceiving you as either standoffish, shy, or too serious, then simply smile. Smiling not only makes us happier, it also reduces stress and increases the chances of becoming more successful. Best of all? Others can distinguish between a real and fake smile.
7. Find an Advocate
“Most introverts I’ve worked with who have gotten promotions have had a boss or senior manager who really pulled for them,” writes Ancowitz in Psychology Today. Ancowitz adds, “Use your ability to build strong, lasting relationships and do so with people who can make a difference in your career advancement.” If you have a hard time building yourself up, you can usually find a great boss or mentor who will help build you up, if you will let them.
8. Change Your Perception of Success
Success means different things for different people. For an introvert, a promotion that puts them in-front of crowds on a daily basis may not actually be appealing for them. In fact, the thought of such a role could make them uncomfortable and make them less enthusiastic.
In other words, as Lewis Humphries says in Life Hacker, “you may be required to challenge your own perception of self-promotion, and consider it more as an opportunity to articulate your most valuable skills rather than an exercise in disingenuous showmanship.”