Diversity, Inclusion, and Introverts: 3 Tips for Thriving
Propel yourself using your quiet strengths.
Posted June 13, 2013
If you’re an introvert, or someone who refuels during your quiet time, you spend more time "doing" than talking about what you're doing. As a result, you’re often overlooked for opportunities for yourself, your team, and even your organization. It should come as no surprise that while introverts are stigmatized in our society, we have a lot to contribute. By embracing our quiet characteristics, they become strengths in our lives, and in the workplace.
I’m about to share three tips for thriving in your career as an introvert. We'll first look at how your introvert characteristics can serve as strengths, and ultimately how to use those strengths to your advantage. Extroverts can also benefit from this information to help them understand how introverts move about in the world.
1. Characteristic common to introverts: Introverts are more detail oriented – we cross the t’s and dot the i’s. As a result, many of us gravitate to becoming accountants, actuaries, IT professionals, scientists, librarians, and editors—as opposed to extroverts who get bored by too much detail.
Tip for introverts: Delight in the details. Don’t minimize the value of being detail oriented— even if others don’t always appreciate it. An eye to details might not make you the life of the party, but without those details, everyone would be in the dark. You think things through to ensure the best outcome for meetings, presentations, and proposals, to name a few business applications. It’s been said that the devil is in the details. But really, it’s hell without them.
2. Characteristic common to introverts: Introverts think before speaking—as opposed to extroverts, who think out loud.
Strength common to introverts: So if you’re an introvert, you’re more likely to say exactly what you mean the first time, which can be impactful. This brings to mind frequent meetings I used to attend during my days on Wall Street. The meetings were often boisterous, with many strong personalities vying for the spotlight. Meanwhile, one colleague we’ll call Lee wielded a quiet authority. He would say almost nothing for most of the time, and then when he piped up, he immediately cut to the chase and commanded the room with few words. He was always prepared with the facts. So when Lee spoke, everyone listened.
3. Characteristic common to introverts: Introverts are more reflective and appear more calm—as opposed to extroverts, who are more effusive and outwardly enthusiastic.
Strength common to introverts: So if you’re an introvert, you are more even keeled and spend more time listening which is a powerful skill for building relationships, excelling at sales, and managing crises. As an example of the latter, imagine a man named Xavier has stomach pain in the middle of the night and calls his doctor in a panic. The doctor calmly listens and asks vital questions. Instead of jumping to conclusions, she is able to make an accurate assessment of Xavier’s condition, and recommend a course of action which resolves his pain and enables him to get back to sleep.
These are just a few tips to get you thinking about how you can use your introvert characteristics—as someone who is more detail oriented, who thinks before speaking, and is more reflective and calm—to your advantage.
For information about how introverts and extroverts can work better with one other, check out "Conquering the Introvert-Extrovert Communication Gap” - Parts 1 and 2”, "5 Things Every Introvert Should Know about Extroverts (and Vice Versa)," and "Screeches to Introverts' Ears." Also see “Introvert- and Extrovert- Friendly Workspaces” to heighten your awareness of your own and your colleagues’ diverse needs.
Adapted from Nancy Ancowitz’s virtual presentation on diversity, inclusion, and introverts to the Atlanta Diversity Management Advocacy Group (ADMAG) on April 18, 2013.
Copyright 2013 © Nancy Ancowitz