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How To Be An Introvert In An Extrovert World!
Since Susan Cain published her groundbreaking book-Quiet, awareness of how introverts see the world differently has grown, most workplaces and practices remain stubbornly designed for the extrovert ‘mainstream’. Think open-plan offices, your average meeting, team building and social events – all loaded with the kind of sensory overload and expectations designed to make the introverts among us long for what Cain calls a “restorative niche”.

With between a third and half of the population identifying as an introvert, this remains a diversity challenge that deserves greater attention. While the world catches up, introverts need to find strategies to navigate the world of work and help their extrovert colleagues understand how they like to operate. 

Here are the tips for you of being an introvert in the extrovert world

1. Be clear about what introversion is not

Introversion is separate from shyness. Many introverts enjoy socialising, but it comes at a cost for them. Instead of getting energised from mixing, they get drained and need some alone time to recharge their batteries. They think that the person is antisocial, doesn’t like to work in a team, does not show enthusiasm or is distant and aggressive, which is not correct. Introverts recharge their energy by restoring their tanks on their own. And extroverts recharge themselves by socialising.

2. Take alone time for yourself

It is sometimes complicated for introverts to know their need for alone time, but it needs to be respected and honoured. Make a quiet and downtime in your schedule. Take out time to go on a walk alone, have lunch separately or find a quiet and calm place to read a book. Plan activities in which your energy is less utilised and plan for recovery. Instead of feeling guilty, enjoy it thoroughly and enjoy the alone time before the meeting or presentation. Taking your time before meeting or presenting will energise you and make you ready for the unravelling.

3. Find space for yourself

An environment filled with excessive noise and distraction can be stressful, making open-plan offices especially difficult. Find places like meeting rooms and conferences – where you can enjoy some peace and be quiet during the day, or if you want to focus on a particular task. Try to find more options around flexi-time and flexible working. Layouts that facilitate teamwork are essential, and they need a balance with some spaces that allow some alone time to focus on the task at hand. For introverts, this focus often restrains their creativity. 

4. Prepare and rehearse for meetings and presentations

Introverts may not enjoy responding in meetings in seconds, and sometimes it’s challenging in cultures where that is the norm. Prepare as much you can and plan how you may contribute. Follow your nature to think before speaking, but don’t stop talking when you have something to say. A single analysed comment or well-judged question can make an impact. For managers, sending out the agendas in advance and inclusive chairing will make sure you hear from everyone in the room. Rehearsing and practising presentations will help you build confidence and improve performance. 

5. Set boundaries with your colleagues, but reach out too

Everyone is entitled to set boundaries to stop interruptions, small talks and office banter. Be clear about when you need your alone time, but accept that connections are necessary and part of the deal. Intentional practise of scheduling some time each day to walk around the office and chat with colleagues. 

6. Manage networking commitments

You are using a free trait agreement with yourself to manage social and networking commitments that come with work. It means making a promise with yourself that you’ll attend and make full use of specific opportunities, permitting you to be at home other times. When you take out a risk, be focused on what you want to achieve. Don’t try to compare yourself with your colleague for whom working a room comes naturally; making less but meaningful contacts can be influential.

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7. Take a step out of your comfort zone

Being introverted is a preference. It does not mean that you can not override this tendency when you feel the time is right. Many quiet ones develop and deploy (and enjoy) more of the extrovert behaviour when needed. Taking a step ahead can change perceptions about you. Just make sure to factor in recovery time.

8. Please don’t be shy about your talents, and don’t hide them

Put your introverted talent to good use, contributing to the workplace in authentic and meaningful ways. Know your passions and share them. Make yourself calm, thoughtful and prepared and believe in yourself. The ability to focus and analyse means introverts are often good at problem-solving and thinking laterally. Research suggests that introverts make better leaders because introverts listen and implement their team’s ideas. When doing promotion, organisations need to overcome their bias towards assertive and charismatic leadership and mix things with people who bring different traits and strengths. 

Written by Cristina

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