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An Introverts Guide to Success in the Workplace

By Sandra Martinez

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From one introvert to another, this article is dedicated to you.  If introverts work on their strengths and overcome their “weaknesses” they can easily outshine their louder counterparts. Contrary to common belief, introverts have an abundance of strengths, that, when used to full potential can help them gain more success than they are usually given credit for. Introverts bring something unique to their workplace, their characteristics like their innate sense of quiet wisdom, their perception; something that extroverts may not be able to contribute.

Introverts are usually ignored as they are the quiet ones who prefer to be low-key. Emphasis is put on being more expressive and unreserved, however, that alone should not be the benchmark set for success. Being the most gregarious of the lot, should not equate to being the most successful, only because the idea was shouted out a little more loudly. It is not wrong to be an extrovert by any measure. However, in the whole scheme of things, introverts should not be left behind either, only because of their characteristic of preferring to remain secluded, behind the scenes or quiet. There are ways to overcome these sometimes hindering characteristics. Both these personality types can learn something from the other in order to gain more in the end.

Introverted vs. Extroverted People

There are key differences between the two types of personalities. To begin to understand at how to incorporate the differences, there is need to first identify them. In 1920, psychologist Carl G. Jung coined these terms, describing two types of opposing characters. One preferred a more stimulating environment (the extrovert) while the other’s preference was of fewer stimuli (an introvert). The more extroverted person would thrive in an environment that pushes them to do more, while the more introverted would want a quiet and peaceful place to be on their own. Introversion and extroversion are two extremes of a spectrum; therefore, no one can be on either of the opposing ends. They are more of one and less of the other (thus, relate more to one type of either of the personalities) or be ambivalent (which is to say they have a balanced character with both kinds of traits in them). One can observe oneself in their surroundings to understand whether they are introverted or extroverted. A case in point is when you are in a social gathering. What recharges you more, time out in a large group (where you thrive on those feel good vibes) or when you go home and rest a while after a huge gathering? If it is the former, then you are extroverted, if you need time out, then you are introverted. Introversion simply means to prefer the inner sanctum and thinking of ideas, while extroversion is the desire for action and includes a larger group of people. Just because introverts desire to be behind the scenes and not the center of attention, does not mean they cannot be successful at whatever they are good at. There is a whole list of successful introverts that may amaze you:
  • Michel Jordan
  • J.K. Rowling
  • Bill Gates
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Albert Einstein
  • Warren Buffet
  • Barack Obama
  • Hillary Clinton
  • Mark Zukerberg
  • Mahatma Gandhi
  • Angelina Jolie
  • Steven Spielberg
  • Jay Z
  • Leonardo DiCaprio
  • Emma Watston
  • Lady Gaga
These famous personalities show that no matter your personality type, you can overcome or as I like to call it, challenge  your weaknesses and play to your strengths. All of them are high achievers in their respective fields. To challenge your weaknesses, you have to work beyond your comfort zone, whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, to make yourself better. Introverts tend to have problems when socializing or speaking out when needed, extroverts on the other hand tend have problems with thinking before they act and focusing. Both these types of people can work on their weaknesses and slowly become ambient to possess both type of characteristics; thereby, experiencing the benefits of both types of personalities, gaining more insight and enjoying life more.

Inner Strength for a Better Tomorrow

There is nothing wrong with being an introvert; however, problems arise when an individual is an emotionally unstable person. An emotionally unstable introvert sooner or later experiences mood swings, lack of proactivity and assertiveness and other emotions that pull the person back and create a barrier to progress. No matter which type of personality one tips towards, inner peace and security is the essence to a happy life. Cognitive psychology can help you analyze and correct your, at times, slight melancholy-like perception of life which is often caused by overthinking and overanalyzing feelings, perceptions, situations, outcomes and people. Through various means including practicing self-awareness, you can achieve emotional stability, which is the first step towards bringing down the barriers you may have around yourself. No one is exempt to experiencing barriers, insecurities and challenges at some points in their life. However, introverts tend to analyze and internalize them more or on a deeper level then their extroverted counterparts. There is need for conscious effort for this endeavor and with motivation and persistence you can get over your insecurities when they may appear.

Strengths to Play On

Introverts have the following strengths that they can make use of to achieve greater goals.
  1. Think before they take any action, whether verbal or physical
  2. Written communication is on point
  3. A good understanding of the environment by listening to and observing those around them
  4. Creative ideas
  5. Being able to focus and understand a large amount of information
  6. Building a strong and intimate network
  7. Organized Strategist – making them good leaders
  8. Building prestige and not dominance in your area of expertise

Weaknesses to Shun

While introverts can play on their strengths to achieve goals, often their weaknesses pull them back. They need to have an understanding of these weaknesses and work on tempering them.
  1. Making new connections is a challenge
  2. Promoting themselves and speaking out and loud
  3. Working in teams can be daunting
  4. Sudden changes can make them uncomfortable

Make the Switch

With ambition an introvert can know when to make the switch in situations where being an extrovert is important. Developing competences helps with the process and moves you forward in life. At the same time, extroverts need to slow down at times and know when to be more introverted in their approach. Switching back and forth does not mean you are becoming something you are not; rather it only shows others that you have the potential to do something beyond your comfort zone to achieve something you have set your mind to. This is true for both personality types. If played right, introverts know how to make situations work for themselves. They definitely need to work on speaking up, but once they get over their shyness, they can be great public speakers (think Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton). They know when to push themselves to achieve and when to call it quits and not overdo something. A perfect example of an introvert making the switch, can be demonstrated in a 2015 CNN interview of Hillary Clinton. She was asked if she was an extrovert an introvert? Her answer, “I am an extro-introvert;” further explaining that “while she likes time alone, she also realizes that in the job she is seeking, it is necessary to go out and meet people.” Therefore, making the switch when necessary often leads to a more peaceful serenity that keeps introverts happy with what they have achieved. In summary, similar to the famous and well-known personalities listed above, if you are an introvert, you too can improve your weaker personality traits and play to your strengths. You have the ability to become a high achiever and expert in your respective field. Figure out the areas  in which you can improve and do what it takes to apply the techniques that will propel you to work beyond your comfort zone so that you too can “make the switch” when necessary. In doing so, you will see many doors and opportunities open.  In addition, you yourself will be able to open doors that lead to the achievement of your professional and personal goals. Here’s to harnessing our strengths, shunning our weaknesses and making the switch to create a more versatile version of ourselves!   Sources: A Quiet Success: Advantages of Introverts in the Workplace. (2015). Forum. Retrieved 5 September 2016, from https://villanovaforum.wordpress.com/2015/04/15/a-quiet-success-advantages-of-introverts-in-the-workplace/ 8 Advantages of Introverts – A Unique Approach to Culture & Creative. (2013). Retrieved 5 September 2016, from http://themojocompany.com/2013/03/advantages-of-introverts/#sthash.jdqcZmSs.dpbs Hillary Clinton: ‘I am an extro- introvert.’ (2015). Received December, 17th, 2016, from https://www.google.com/amp.cnn.com/cnn/2015/11/07/politics/hillary-clinton-extro-introvert/index/html?client=safari

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About Sandra Martinez

Sandra is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles. She is a merchandise marketer who has respected experience in fashion showrooms and with ...

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