8 Strategies for Introverted Professionals in the Workplace

8 Strategies for Introverted Professionals in the Workplace was originally published on Ivy Exec.

“Introverts are shy and boring people.” We bet you’ve heard this statement once or many times before. Or perhaps even you believe so. It’s no wonder why over 56% of workplace introverts in the US wish they were instead extroverts. 

But here’s the buster: introverts are extremely deep thinkers, problem-solvers, and logically oriented individuals. And because they spend most of their time analyzing thoughts or facts before taking a public stride, they can appear reserved or withdrawn.

For leaders who know what this personality is worth, that’s gold. Interestingly, 35% of extroverts wish they were sometimes introverts as well.

However, you might find yourself in a hitch sometimes since most employers value extroversion over introversion. Moreover, the workplace culture is primarily designed to favor people who draw their energy from social interactions.

If you’re an introvert finding it difficult to adapt, these are some strategies you can use to turn tides and become more productive than you’ve ever been.


1️⃣ Leverage Strengths And Seek Compatible Roles

Tim White, Founder of Milepro, explains that “Introverted professionals have an edge over work colleagues in situations that involve critical thinking and providing logical ideas. These types of people literally invest their time and energy in breaking down each problem, analyzing, sorting, and re-verifying it in order to develop a suitable solution.”

That doesn’t mean extroverted individuals don’t do as much thinking. However, introverts find it easier to strip themselves of social noise and focus on what matters at the moment. That’s strength.

Once you identify your strengths as an introvert, leverage them when choosing a skill, role, or department to work for within a company. This ensures you don’t end up in roles that require many social interactions or buzziness.

Take the sales representative job as a perfect example. This role requires ‘speaking’ all the time, on the phone, and sometimes, in public. In contrast, a data analyst does more work on their computer – interacting with data all day. You know which one to choose if you’re 100% introverted.


2️⃣ Come Out, Advocate for Your Needs

But what if you’re already in a role that requires much social exposure? Let’s say a team lead position for your dream company’s design and content team.

Then, the best thing to do is negotiate or advocate for your needs. 

Meet your boss and explain why you’d prefer a more retro-public role. If that’s not negotiable, advocate for a closed-in office space to help you concentrate. This could be a personal working space or a barricaded work desk.

Ian Sells, CEO of Million Dollar Sellers, also says, “As an introvert, it’s easy for your colleagues to think you’re a snub because you keep to yourself or stay in the corner when it’s time for roundtable discussions. This builds up a negative workplace atmosphere, can impact your productivity, and demotivates team members.”

So, it’s important to let your colleagues know you prefer your personal space and like to avoid overly socializing unless necessary.


3️⃣ Set Boundaries For Focused Work

Besides letting others know your personality, you also have to set up some crucial boundaries that will negate unwanted issues. 

For instance, introverts like quiet spaces at work and prefer not to be disturbed when taking a shot at assigned tasks. A close colleague might want to spice things up and give a shoulder tap or slide into your space with a narcissistic comment.

If you’re not okay with any of these, then it’s best to give them a heads up in time. Other boundaries include setting a preferred communication channel and time to receive corporate calls if you’re remote or depending on your role.

“Most importantly, you must learn to say NO when necessary. Trying to fit into the good books of your colleagues at all times, like agreeing to go to parties when you’re actually not a party type, will eventually leave you drained. And that can affect your work productivity. Ensure you find a balance between keeping yourself productive and placating your colleagues”, Tony Mariotti, CEO of RubyHome, advises.


4️⃣ Prepare for Meetings Thoroughly

More often than not, introverts prefer being left out of a meeting. That’s because most meetings are filled with socially dominant individuals. This can make you feel like a third wheel, especially if no one pays attention to your contributions or suggestions during the meeting.

Also, remember that introverted professionals take their time to process, analyze, and decide. For a sprint meeting designed to end in just a couple of minutes, we both know that’s not going to happen.

To avoid any of these situations, prepare thoroughly for each meeting.

Sturgeon Christie, CEO of Second Skin Audio, advises, “Using a notepad to highlight the focus of your meetings days before, the problems that will be discussed, the solutions you’d like to proffer, and other sideline points. This goes as far as writing out how you will present your message in sentence and structure.”

How you pass your message during a meeting is also important. For instance, ‘This is not an expert opinion, but I think we should..‘ is a statement that downplays your ideas. Instead, you should say something like, ‘In my view, we could try this…’ or ‘I recommend we..’.


5️⃣ Use Written Communication Often

“We all have communication preferences. Some go with physical conversations, while others prefer texts. Of course, there are a number of people who do well with both. However, written communication, such as text messages or emails, works best for introverted professionals. You have enough time to distill a message and respond appropriately”, Pierce Hogan, Owner of Varied Lands, explains.

Communication via emails and Slack-like channels also helps you respond when you’re most engaged and energetic instead of putting you on a pressure pedestal to reply when you are not. In that state, you can surely express your most brilliant ideas, opinions, and plans.


6️⃣ Schedule Appropriate Downtime

Roman Zrazhevsky, Founder & CEO of MIRA Safety, says, “Introverts are often exhausted by social interactions. Once in a while, they feel a surge of energy to go all out. But what comes after is total exhaustion and sudden need to withdraw.” 

This is going to happen a lot, especially if you’re working on-site. Talk about the endless meetings, individual reports, team brainstorming sessions, etc. All these can impact your work productivity, leave you feeling out of place, or disrupt your daily processes.

“An effective solution is to mark out a time of the day to take a break. Get a noise-canceling headset, find a quiet place, and recharge. You can also do this on your desk if your corporate break is still far away and you’re already knocked out”, says Roman.

Another approach is to let your employer know you’ll take occasional breaks from work.

This is not much of a problem for remote introverted employees since you can easily take a 15-minute break from your computer. However, most employers use activity-tracking software. That’s why you should let your boss know about your needs before signing a contract.


7️⃣ Gradually Develop Public Speaking Skills

People who are introverted rarely communicate with others in public spaces. So it’s not surprising to find your public speaking skills lacking behind other competencies.

This might be an issue, depending on your role. For example, a team lead is expected to address the team and organization as a whole once in a while. You cannot always delegate that to your assistant. 

We’ve not even mentioned other high-level, more demanding roles within big organizations. 

Building your speaking skills is important to avoid getting stuck in these situations. Contract a public speaking coach and let him understand your personality. If helpful, you can also take some courses online. 

Note that you don’t have to be the best speaker in your team. But you should be able to hold a conversation for a few minutes or address the public when your role necessitates it.


8️⃣ Build Relationships And Network With Others

“Although introverts are known to keep to themselves most of the time, it’s still important to build some valuable relationships with people who understand you. This could be anyone within your team or cross-departmental. Networking with others also exposes you to newer ideas, helps to improve your socialization skills, and reinforces your position within the company”, Sergey Taver, Marketing Manager of Precision Watches, adds.

Of course, you shouldn’t outstretch yourself just to build connections with others. Do it gradually, don’t force it if the other person is not reciprocating the same energy, and ensure you prioritize your preset boundaries.


Wrapping Up

If there’s a better way to put it, introverted professionals have a whole world inside of them. That’s why one of their greatest strengths is critical thinking.

To excel at work, understand your strengths and consider them a major factor when choosing a role. Discuss your needs with your employer and colleagues while setting workplace boundaries.

Thoroughly prepare for meetings, opt-in for text communication, schedule a downtime, find a quiet place to recharge at work, and gradually develop your public speaking skills. Lastly, network with other members.

By Ivy Exec
Ivy Exec is your dedicated career development resource.