What do Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Mahatma Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Charles Darwin, J.K. Rowling, and Rosa Parks have in common? They are all people who made an impact on the world. They are also perceived as introverts.
In previous centuries our culture valued quiet integrity and introspection. However, in today’s culture the emphasis on personality and striving to be noticed has propelled the extroverted personalities to be valued. That person speaks fast, loud, and a lot. They think while they are speaking. The introvert, who articulates his/her ideas in his/her mind before speaking, is quiet and reserved, has went down the oblivion drain.
As a result, it is not always the person with the best, most creative ideas that is heard, but the loudest. The result can be a loss of ideas and capabilities of some of the finest thinkers in organizations.
One of the common misconceptions regarding introverts is that they are shy and extroverts are outgoing. Carl Jung, who made the terms extrovert and introvert popular, claimed that the difference between them was how they gained energy.
Introverts gain energy from spending time alone. When around others for too long they find their energy drained. Extroverts, on the other hand gain energy from others and find their energy being drained when they have to spend time alone.
Introverts are aroused quicker and extroverts need more stimulation to be aroused. This explains why introverts can become overstimulated and need to get away and recharge. Finding it harder to become stimulated, extroverts need to work harder by putting themselves in situations with others, creating novelty, adventure, and change in their lives.
Successful introverts find ways to adjust to their environment, but there are also some basic things that can be done to help introverts feel more comfortable, accepted, and appreciated in the workplace.
Here are some ideas for manager, supervisors and leaders to make workplaces more introvert friendly:
- Allocate time for all members to speak and be heard
- Ask for written discussion items to be forwarded to the chair prior to a meeting
- This not only helps introverts who tend to like to think things through but cuts back on time wasted on chatter and people rambling on and wasting everyone’s time.
- Encourage everyone to work on their public speaking skills
- Create opportunities for everyone to take turns leading meetings.
- Ask for written ideas on new and innovative ways to improve
- Provide advance notice of changes and events
- Communicate clearly
- Give them time to think over things
- Consider individual or smaller group projects
When part of a team, introverts work best when they are assigned to work on a specific area rather than brainstorming and working collectively as a group.