People often think of me as focused and proactive at work, and they don’t usually aware that I am an introvert. Still, there are times when I need to get away from the crowd and relax after a long active day. An old friend once advised me to align my personality at work and in my personal life. Although I have a different side, I am my true self and my introverted side should not be shunned.
Cultural Bias Against Introverts
Introverts are sometimes stereotyped as being quiet and passive. In fact, introversion or extroversion has little to do with social skills, but more to do with how one acquires and uses energy.
Let’s be clear: we all have both sides.
Introverts can be social and expressive if they manage their inner energy well. It doesn’t mean that they are not authentic. Instead, it’s just another facet of their personality. The most successful people in the world, to name a few, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Bill Gates and Barack Obama, are all recognized introverts. They use their personality in the job to achieve success. So being an introvert is not that bad.
The Values of Introverts
Introverts usually focus on their own thoughts and feelings and think things through before acting. Their thoughtful, well-prepared, fact- and detail-oriented qualities keep them focused and attentive to their responsibilities, making them well-suited for research or management tasks that require much thought and planning.
Introverts may worry about failing to speak eloquently during presentations. Put yourself in audience’s shoes: can a good talker help you make decisions? Nothing moves people more than great vision, well-thought-out intention, and facts. Focus on sharing values and leveraging the skills of introverts, listen attentively, and prepare yourself so you can succeed like everyone else.
When something comes up that you are not particularly good at, you can adjust your way of thinking. For example, use speaking or presentation as an opportunity to educate others or express yourself. This is what I have done through client meetings, interviews and public speaking.
We often have this perception that only the most popular and chattiest become leaders. However, have you considered what it takes to be respected and qualified to lead a team? As mentioned earlier, we don’t always have to be humorous or cheerful in our words or personalities. Based on my observation of some great leaders, it doesn’t have to be this way to be respected.
- Skilful: demonstrate your professionalism and talents in a modest way. Focus on lessons learned when sharing your past achievements;
- Articulate and thoughtful: convey ideas and arguments clearly and reasonably;
- Mind your language and manners: consider the impact of your words. We all expect leaders to have the right values;
- Kindness: develop compassion towards others, including non-stakeholders;
- Calmness: the more tense the situation, the more calm you need to be;
- Tolerance and smile: even if you are not good at communicating, a warm smile is the simplest way to make yourself more approachable.
I, like many others, am a person who prefers to act as a doorkeeper or supporter on a team. I don’t want to show authority, but rather for everyone to cooperate and grow while valuing every trait and quality. Therefore, it is important to recognise our qualities and find what leadership or working style works for us.
Introverts can work just as well as extroverts, but is it a good idea to put people with different personalities on the same team?
I’ve met people who tend to hire people with similar values and personalities. Perhaps they think certain employees are easier to interact with, whereas communication is the key factor, not one’s personality or mental energy.
In my opinion, working with someone different is the best way to build a team. So, whether introverts, extroverts, or people with different traits, personalities or values, as long as they differ, the team can grow more diversity and learn from one another. Do you think the same as I do?
Adjusting your Footsteps
Introverts like me, who seem to be active, are more likely to drain inner or even physical energy than extroverts. I can stay active and in a good mood during a meeting, but I soon feel hungry and tired afterwards, especially if it is a social event that I am not interested in.
We sometimes want to get out of certain situations. First and foremost, it’s perfectly okay to say no to less critical activities. The key is to decline politely. Also, it is better to only communicate with few people, like one or two in depth at public events, instead of knowing many people.
Before spending your energy on these occasions, take superb care of yourself by saving some time before and after to accommodate and restore energy. Here are some ideas on what you can do.
- Arrive earlier: give yourself plenty of time to relax, prepare and tidy up your outfit.
- Comfort items: bring beverages, food, jackets, warm messages or other items for comfort and entertainment during or outside the event.
- Rest afterwards: spend some time alone and pamper yourself.
Nobody is a complete introvert or extrovert, nor has the same personality. While it is essential to understand ourselves, we don’t have to stereotype or categorise who we are. A diverse personliaty means you have different qualities or traits, but not defects. These words comforted me, encouraged me, and reminded me how I should treat other introverts and accept people with different personalities.