There are many differences between introversion and extroversion. For those of us who like science, the neurotransmitters dopamine and acetylcholine mixed with the ways introverts and extroverts react differently to each play a huge role. If you prefer a more social explanation, group interaction and being around people are what recharge extroverts at the end of the day. However, introverts need quiet and space in order to retreat to their inner worlds to decompress and recover.
Neither of these qualities are better or worse than the other, but I’ve often found the social misconception of introversion equaling shyness or being anti-social to be an obstacle that I must overcome at work. Why? Because the workplace setting tends to favor extroverts who are more likely to speak up quicker (and louder) and be rewarded for their outgoing natures, in place of their introverted coworkers who may still be thinking about the problem at hand.
This can be especially frustrating, as I’m sure my fellow introverts out there know. We know who we are and that our introversion is actually a strength in some cases. From personal experience, here are four ways that introverts make exceptional employees:
Written Communication: Introverts prefer to have the time and space to think through problems, research, and edit. We may hesitate for a moment when asked an unexpected question point blank, but our written communication is well researched and put together. This is because we are able to think about the issue from alternate points of view, gather any needed data, and strategically write out the way we feel without the added pressures of spur of the moment interactions. I have found that my coworkers rely on me more and more for proofreading and writing-based tasks.
Listening: Who do you go to when you want to talk about your problems, work-related or otherwise? Odds are that it’s your introverted friend or coworker. We thrive in one-on-one personal interactions and are more than willing to listen to your issues with an empathetic ear. These types of relationships are what build loyalty and trust among employees.
Focus & Thinking: Introverts may seem distant during a group discussion, but that’s not actually the case. We are taking in our surroundings and the different points of view to come up with our own opinions and make logical thought-out decisions. We think first, act second. Additionally, many of us are able to retreat inward and focus all of our energy on one task. In the proper setting, I can sit still for several hours and knock out a huge project all at once.
Creativity: All of that introspection and space gives introverts the ability to come up with creative solutions to problems. I find myself taking on the task of being the “fixer” quite often at work. I’ve found that the constant stream of multiple lines of thought going through my head are what often lead to more efficient solutions, as I find inspiration from other areas of my life and work.
We may all be broken up into either introverts or extroverts, but there are certainly several degrees of variation within each. If we can become better informed and more actively aware of each others’ strengths, both ends of the scale will benefit from a more comfortable and productive work environment.
Have you found a way to use your introversion to your advantage? What makes you an exceptional employee? Are you an extrovert learning how to work alongside an introvert?
I would love to hear about your experiences below!