Introverts at work
In a 2020 study, Myers Briggs found that over half of people are introverts. In the workplace, conscious or unconscious bias by organization leaders often rewards employees behaving in an extroverted way while more introverted employees’ opinions aren’t as frequently acknowledged. Myers Briggs recommends that employers incorporate four practices to unleash the power of introversion: allow space and time to think, listen, choose your communication method thoughtfully, and allow time to recharge.
People often mistake quietness for introversion, but it’s possible to be a quiet extrovert or a loud introvert. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert has to do with where you get your energy and how you react to stimulus. If being at a party with lots of people and stimuli tends to exhaust you, you’re likely an introvert. If it energizes you, you’re probably an extrovert.
Ryan Showalter founded ITOPiA at his workplace for two main reasons. The first is to help create more balance in the organization so there’s not as much bias toward extroverted ideals. The second is to help introverts manage through the extroverted ideals that are currently present in the workplace.
One of the biggest challenges for introverts in the workplace is the judgment that tends to show up. For example, an introvert may not speak up much in a meeting. While an extrovert may assume this means they weren’t interested or didn’t have anything valuable to say, it’s likely that they were absorbing and processing information and hadn’t formulated any output yet. Some of the many superpowers introverts bring to your organization include offering very thoughtful responses and often being more empathetic.
Ryan encourages people to reserve judgment until you really understand what’s going on; an introvert’s lack of eye contact may mean they’re thinking and not that they’re disinterested. It’s as simple as asking questions and not making blanket assumptions. For introverts, Ryan says understanding yourself and the value you bring and knowing you’re not alone are crucial.
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