Sometimes it seems as if the workplace was built for extroverts. Constant meetings, conversations in the kitchen, brainstorm sessions and having to engage in teamwork; for a people-person it can be stimulating, exciting and energising. But for those of us who identify as introverts; it can be downright overwhelming. Introverts need space, time alone to recharge and find spontaneous interactions uncomfortable. So how can we get noticed in the workplace to progress and excel?
When you’re feeling withdrawn and wanting to avoid attention, it’s easy to avoid eye contact and lower your head when passing others. This can really affect other’s perception of you. You can be a bright and cheery person on the inside, but your posture and facial expression can lead others to think you are miserable and unapproachable. Make sure you have your head held high when walking around the office. Make eye contact and smile – it will make a world of difference and although it may feel unnatural at first, it will soon become second nature.
Communicate in your own way
Dread face to face talks? Find it hard to tell your manager about your accomplishments? Putting it in an email can get your thoughts across effectively. It can be easy to freeze up or say the wrong thing when introverts are put on the spot, but putting in written word, allows time to prepare and articulate everything that needs to be said. This tactic also works well in meetings, write down all of your points beforehand and bring along your notes. If you’re getting ready for a social function, brainstorm some conversation starters beforehand.
Put yourself out there
Some of the most famous artists suffer from stage fright; Adele, Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli – all of these incredible performers have had to overcome their sheer terror at being in the spotlight in order to become who they are today. Practise public speaking, get used to approaching others in group situations and watch as you get more comfortable with it. This doesn’t necessarily mean you will enjoy it and it will certainly be taxing on your energy; but it’s what professionals do. They push the boundaries of their comfort zone and do things that other’s like them, probably won’t do. It’s all about playing the game even if it goes against everything you believe about yourself. Become a social chameleon in order to excel in life.
Let your strengths shine
Introverts are usually more observant than the average person. They also tend to absorb information more quickly and are perceptive listeners. Be a sounding board for those extroverts in the office who need to express themselves. Lending an ear is invaluable to making others around you feel appreciated, heard and seen. You will soon build respect as a trusted source to turn to for advice.
Choose your people
Even though Introverts try to avoid small talk and having unnecessary acquaintances, they still crave social connections and friendship. Assess those who you work with and those you are naturally drawn to. Ensure it’s a mix of people in various positions from reception to management. Build relationships in your own way, by having deep conversations, rather than inane chatter about the weather. Soon enough you will have enough people in your corner to be your advocate in the workplace and also provide you with moments of warmth and belonging.