Introvert in the workplace: Becoming the best you

introvert in the workplace

An introvert in the workplace might appear to be shy or seem like a snub, but that may not be true of that introvert. Someone that is energized when alone and prefers calm moments is simply just being who they are: an introvert. Nothing personal.

Understanding what makes you tick as an introvert will help you play your strengths to your advantage at work. Unlike extroverts who are happy-go-lucky and naturally draw attention to themselves, introverts might just be on the background getting the team going, unannounced.

Two weeks back, I received an invitation to the Women Techmakers (WTM) Sub Saharan Africa Annual Summit alongside the Google Developers Group Summit.

I Psyched myself up for the role

Growing up, there is a lot in my head that I have imagined myself able to do seamlessly, public speaking is top on the list. The nudge to speak at certain big events have come and gone without me doing anything about it. This time, I chose to take the bull by the horn.

I was going to apply to speak at both summits  I was invited for, but I was not sure I was game for the bigger event. So, I applied only for the WTM summit.

24 hours later, my application to speak on the topic: Making the Best of Being an Introvert, was approved.

WomenTechMakers-Introverts in Nigeria

Making the best of being an introvert in the workplace

In my audience, I was certain there were ladies that have more experience dealing with their personal and workplace introversion or are extroverts. Nevertheless, I was confident in my approach to the subject matter.

Before I started my session, to be on the safe side, and maybe just for a little interaction, I asked my audience to take a personality test. Because really, how else to know what personalities we actually are?

The design of modern-day workplaces has nothing on extroverts, nothing on introverts either. Perhaps getting the right kind of job for your personality just makes a big difference indeed.

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A job where an introvert can get more time to themselves than they spend with team members can be very helpful to the introvert and their team. Find your niche!

3 core benefits of having an introvert in the workplace

Great listeners: Introverts listen patiently and attentively to understand the speaker. This means refraining from interjecting with personal opinions or judgment. This valued skill is believed to be highly instrumental in boosting productivity in the workplace. 

Empathy: For any product or service to be successful, empathy is key. And also, for teams to thrive, this skill is needed for effective collaboration. A Google research initiative called Project Aristotle shows the relevance of empathy. Thankfully, introverts are great at this.

Deep thinkers: The tendency for introverts to over-analyze situations has its pros and cons. The pros play to the advantage of a team. The fact remains that introverts have the capacity to process situations and fish loopholes in a project or deal, which can help a team make informed business decisions. 

Are there struggles faced by Introverts in the workplace?

Under-appreciation

Personally, I have been in situations both professionally and personally where I give my best, deliver on tasks, meet deadlines and also ensure that I am not missing out, yet it gets almost unnoticed.

Even in relationships, introverts tend to be on the driver’s seat of ride or die relationships, they practically invest their life into their partners. It’s a duty—Introverts apply this same mentality into their jobs and relationships. We feel we have a duty to both parties ( company and partner).

In a job, you get paid, but in a relationship, a little bit of appreciation here and there would really boost an Introverts confidence on a growth spectrum.

Appreciation goes a long way in making anyone do more but Introverts hardly get it. In our plight to be better and attain these validations from our bosses or partner, we are often perceived as too serious or perfect; and the validation still doesn’t come through.

Sexual harassment

Workplace sexual harassment has become a widespread topic. One in three women have faced or are facing workspace sexual harassment. Most of the ladies that eventually speak up have had to hold it in for years.

introvert in the workplace- sexual harassment

Crazy thing is, 85% of women who finally speak up are extroverts or ambiverts. Imagine the number of Introverts facing Sexual harassment from their colleagues who are still not speaking out.

How to excel as an Introvert in the workplace

Introverts are known to constantly seek ways to improve on themselves, trying to be as self-aware as possible. Many introverts have asked the following questions: How can I improve my introvert personality? How can introvert be improved? Is being an introvert a weakness?

Here are some ways to be better at who you are in the workplace:

Get out of your comfort zone

In the Introverts in Nigeria Facebook group, we were one day given an exercise to tick a box of things we wouldn’t naturally do as introverts.

Items on the box list included: Starting a conversation and be mindfully engaged in it even when it is small talk, attending a social event and having as much fun as possible, etc. The idea of this exercise was to get introverts to explore.

Comfort zones for introverts can be home and amazing, but endeavor to step out of it sometimes. In the workplace, try to know your colleagues via collaboration. Have that conversation with your employer about a raise or increase in benefits.

Look out for new opportunities at your workspace. Assertiveness is a soft skill every personality has to practice, especially Introverts. In essence: SPEAK UP!

Keep a Brag sheet

Commend yourself for the good work you do. Reward yourself also, your amazing should never go unnoticed by you.

As an #IamRemarkable facilitator at the WomenTechMakers, we host workshops to help women & under-represented communities learn how to build a personal brand, how to be proud of their achievements and know that they are worth every best gift the universe has to offer. See pictures from previous events here.

Squash your personal and professional Goals

As an introvert, stop focusing on your personality, know your worth. Nurturing shyness in the guise of introversion is not a thing anyone, quit cowering. Stay bold and confident. Learn how to cultivate self-love and build up your self-esteem.

Block alone time as often as possible

alone time

After all the work you have put in, you deserve some recharge time. This time should not be compromised for anything else you could get yourself drained. Always create time for your personal growth on your work calendar.

Do not allow yourself to be walked over, someone makes an impromptu plan doesn’t mean you have to drop everything and play catch up when you would rather be home watching Netflix and sleeping away the weekend. That way, while everyone hates Monday, you are up and charged up for the day.

Last words

I hope this introvert article helps you introvert in the workplace, extroverts and ambiverts collaborate better in the workplace. As introverts, it would be nice to explore all the given suggestions above.

For extroverts and ambivert, here are some tips you might want to explore too, in making the workplace exciting for everyone.

As Extroverts or Ambiverts while relating with Introvert:

Strive for Balance: Understand and appreciate the personality of introverts and know when you’re pushing too hard for them to fit into your personality and lifestyle.

Ask questions: Don’t fix dates or picnics because you feel excited about that time of the season, ask if we would like to go out, let’s have a conversation and fix a date. Ask first, and we won’t have a problem. When forced to attend, if we get sentimental and wouldn’t want to cancel, we’ll show up, but as a boring companion. Please always ask first.

Allow Introverts to be their best: When given the chance, introverts are great colleagues, friends or team leaders. Allow us to shine our light, at our own time, in our own way.

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Thank you, dear reader, for reading my article. I would very much like to hear your thoughts in the comment session too, kindly share them with me.

Also, thanks to Ada Oyom for the opportunity to speak at the WTM Summit and to Peculiar Ediomo-Abasi for the writing opportunity. You all are the real MVPs.

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8 Comments

  • A very beautiful piece! Wow!!!

    I so agree that “Even in relationships, introverts tend to be on the driver’s seat of ride or die relationships, they practically invest their life into…” Sha I won’t comment about that. I hate sad memories.

    Here’s my message to the extroverted people and ambiverts alike out there: Truly, misguided stereotyping is very bad…
    I’ve become aware that introversion has seemingly been romanticized into an image of a thoughtful person who considers life’s big picture, pondering on the business of living and existence. Many have conflated introversion with sensitivity, sophistication and creativity, and to be anything but an introvert means exhibiting polar characteristics that are rather ‘less attractive’…

    On the other hand, a considerably large number of people generally favor the inherent qualities of extroversion. I think that’s unfair and also a funny perception of introversion. There are no absolutes: introversion and extroversion run on a spectrum. There can be very great misconceptions either ways about both introversion and extroversion. For example, introverts are not anti-social; we’re differently social. Life isn’t fun without my family and close friends, but I also crave solitude!

    …What I’m saying is that not all introverts are bookish and thoughtful, just as not all extroverts are loud and overbearing. It’s important to note that extroversion and introversion exist along a continuum, and people simply lean to one side of it or the other; we’re all a mix of both kinds of traits. Or as Carl Jung put it, “There is no such thing as a pure extrovert or a pure introvert. Such a man would be in the lunatic asylum.”

    All that said, and because I’ll rather favor my primary disposition (introversion, that is), lemme also say that there’s a certain uniqueness to the quality of introversion that is worth exploring. There’s comfortability in spending time alone, and solitude is one crucial ingredient for creativity…

    Understanding the true nature of introversion is important. That configuration which allows any person to be naturally drawn to more creative, detail-oriented and solitary pursuits:

    – The skill to create, reflect, and ponder.
    – That unique power to get necessary stimulation without the distracting environment, and the ability to generally enjoy solitary activities such as reading, writing, drawing, cooking, and daydreaming etc.

    In fact, some of the most successful people are introverts. They include the reflective, cerebral thinkers; persistent and focused creative types and problem solvers; people who prefer depth over breadth and enjoy a rich inner life; folks strong in delayed gratification who enjoy “relative freedom from the temptations of superficial prizes like money and status.” They’re the inner-directed inventors, artists, philosophers, engineers, scientists, programmers, composers, and writers of the world.

    I think that just as love is not an emotion, the introverted mindset is not simply just all about introspection; it is not only a condition about self-focusing. I’m of the opinion that it is that disposition where the approach to life is based on an inward-driven group of factors.

    For me, it is that which gives me the view to a more intimate theme of life; like to avoid the pitfalls of fame, the hunger to please, the fear of loss, and always maintain a connection with that singular power within, which reminds me deeply of reality… Taking solace in the simple perfection of knowing I can live beyond the buzz and noise of life…

    Abeg, don’t mind my long rambling joor. Being a chronic introvert is bae 🖤

    • Man… Tiz, if only that Spectrum can be seen as Yin & Yang, the society will thrive from what Introverts have to offer. Howbeit, our effect can be felt now and in the generations unborn.

      According to one of my favourite Introverts, “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind” – Albert Einstein

      A shift is here.

  • Quite a piece and very educative! But I must point out that ‘what drives most introverts nut and further make them withdraw into themselves is the fact that people, especially extroverts tend to have misconceptions of them’.

    I’m glad that the awareness of these categories of personalities are gradually increasing through the help of articles like this and comments. I’m hopeful that relationships will get better with understanding.

    Well done Rachael!

    • Itah,
      Thank you for pointing that out.
      We intend to shed more light on Introversion in our Country to the world, hoping to see more from you too.

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