During my yearly appraisal, while praising me for my work ethics, my boss pointed out that I need to engage more with my colleagues. As a calm introvert-selective extrovert, I was baffled by this advice; in span of few months, I’d manage to establish good friendships with many of my colleagues. My boss was, however, indicating on my low presence in office parties. Such casual socialization, which should be one’s independent choice of stimulation, is nothing but an underlined requirement we all have to be part of.
Today’s work environment is wonderland playground for the extrovert beings: cheerful, talkative people, whose charismatic personality is seen as the gold standard for success. You are required to be an engaging social being, with admirable verbal fluency and as an action taker. As much as the world wants to fuel the idea that entrepreneurs are force of extrovert nature, the introverts are building this very world side by side.
Even though we are not black and white binaries, we can be some shades darker for one of the either. Therefore, the value of a good organization is to cater the needs of both its extroverts and introverts. A good team work comes from amalgamation of both the talkers and the listeners. If you are a team leader, you can observe how some people take all the opportunities to talk while other stay out of it. As an introvert, you might also feel out of place in a meeting, unsure how to voice yourself.
So as an organization, make sure you understand the silent ones too:
1. Think Before Leap: Going in a different direction from action-takers, introverts are pre-disposed to be cautious. Rather than leaping towards action, they listen, analyze, ask questions and evaluate the ideas. However, this kind of covert cognitive process makes introverts come across as socially shy and further enhances the stereotype that introverts are not action takers.
2. Listeners of the Spectrum: Introverts follow the approach of “listening first” before reacting. They like to carefully listen to what others are thinking and what ideas are getting exchanged in a social setting. Listening is one of the skills a leader should have and introverts have been shown to have better listening skills in several studies. According to one study by Francesca Gino, Associate Professor at Harvard Business School, quite bosses with proactive teams are shown to be highly successfully.
3. Recharge: Both introverts and extroverts recharge differently but former’s need to retrieve back to solitude is stereotyped as them not liking people. The regular time outs help an introvert to re-engage with opportunities of thinking, imagining, planning, researching, and self-reflection. By minimizing distractions, they are able to bring more clarity into the ideas they have absorbed from their environment.
Fortunately, both introverts and extroverts can learn from each other and adjust their personalities to suit different situations. Our behavior is fairly elastic in nature and Corporate should understand the value of not only their extrovert employees but introverts too. After all, what is common between Barack Obama, Marissa Mayer, Bill Gates, Hilary Clinton, Mahatma Gandhi- all these leaders are introverts! So, don’t shy away from hiring one!