It’s fair to say that we live in an extrovert’s world. Even the slightest glimpse of requirements for job roles shows this to be true, and when you apply to some of the top universities in the country, it can be even worse.
The truth is that being an extrovert gives you a natural advantage these days, but that’s not to say that introverts can’t get ahead in their careers. There is plenty of evidence that you can achieve enormous success – just look at Bill Gates as the perfect example of an incredibly successful introvert.
Of course, you might be saying – “we can’t all own Microsoft,” and to an extent you are right. This does not mean that you can’t lead a fulfilling career as an introvert, however – and here are some ideas to help you get ahead. Read on to find out more!
Choose the right job
OK, so straight away let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of career fulfilment as an introvert. The reality is that even if you gave it your best shot, you are likely to despise some workplace environments. Could you see yourself enjoying the hectic, extroverted and brash offices of a high-pressure sales environment, for example? You have to find a role that gives you the right conditions to thrive. Look for more cerebral work, and with companies with quieter settings. It’s likely you prefer something a little more autonomous, too. Sure, you are going to have team meetings and collaboration to endure, as these are essential aspects of any good job you are likely to get. But these will be much easier to deal with if they don’t take up the majority of your working day.
Understand that your introversion is useful
There are a lot of workplace activities and situations where being an introvert is beneficial, so make yourself aware of them and take advantage. Introverts tend to think before they speak, so you will often find that your managers or bosses will circle back to you to get your thoughts before coming to a conclusion – which is why you often find introverts in trusted positions. You’re also less likely to engage in small talk and office muck-spreading, which again puts you in an incredibly trustworthy light. And as every introvert knows, while you might stay silent when there is general chit-chat going on, you will always speak out on topics that you have passion about. These are all useful traits to have in the workplace, so make sure understand your introversion is not necessarily an advantage, not a burden.
Understand you can get noticed
While it’s true that advancement in the workplace often demands skills deemed as extroverted, there are other ways to get noticed and progress. Many introverts can adapt to work, of course, and ‘wing it’ to get the promotions they deserve. But for those that can’t, there are still solutions. If you don’t like self-promoting, focus on building deep relationships with your colleagues and supervisors. If you don’t like speaking out at meetings, take notes – and some time to assess your thoughts – and send the meeting leader your ideas in an email. There are plenty of things you can do, too, such as taking on meaningful roles in the company. For example, is there an AHA instructor network in your area who could train you to be your company’s first responder to accidents? Could you become the company fire officer? Perhaps you could start arranging charitable events and take on the responsibilities of an events organizer?
Show off your focus
Introverts are renowned for having a deep focus on one particular activity. It’s an impressive, innate skill that means you are likely to thrive when working long hours on meaningful and interesting tasks. This could mean hours of being in a quiet and peaceful environment, which would give your extrovert colleagues the heebie-jeebies. The reality is that extroverts crave crowds, hate working on the same thing for long periods, and are all too easily distracted. So, identify these types of tasks, and claim them for yourself – your boss will take notice.
Make sure you share your thoughts
One thing a lot of introverts are guilty of is the fact they tend to keep their thoughts to themselves. And part of the reason you might do this is that you automatically assume everyone else is thinking the same. Well, you’re wrong! Never assume that everyone is thinking what you are thinking, even when it seems plainly obvious. Get into the habit of sharing your thoughts instead, either with a trusted colleague or, as we discussed earlier, with an email to your manager or supervisor.
Create happy spaces
Not everyone has the advantage of working in a separate office to their colleagues – many businesses insist on open workspaces these days (again, this is highlighting the extrovert’s world we live in). But if you can create space at work – a little quiet corner, perhaps – you will be able to focus a lot more on what you are trying to do than you would if you remained in a hectic, busy, central hub.
Find other introverts
You might not even know it, but there is a good chance there are dozens of introverts in your workplace. But given the modern, extrovert-friendly workplaces these days, these awkward smart people and non-self-promoters are often hiding in plain sight. If you can buddy up with one or two people similar to you, it makes going to an event or activity all the easier – and you will find a lot of strength in solidarity.
A lot of introverts believe that their natural state is stopping them from achieving the success they deserve at work. But as you can see, this doesn’t have to be the case at all. The truth is that although extroverts appear to have an advantage, over time your personality, skills and talents will get noticed, as long as you are doing the right things. If you have any tips to add, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section below!