Introverts get a bad rep around the office but let’s be honest, if everyone was an extrovert who was always “on,” the workday would be a thousand times more exhausting to get through. There are only so many long meetings, social lunches and after-hours networking parties a person can experience before collapsing in an exhausted heap on the floor.
The office introvert, on the other hand, likes to keep things short, sweet and running smoothly without much fanfare for themselves. It’s the main reason that the quiet and reflective introvert is the true ruler of the office over their more garrulous counterparts. Thanks to Susan Cain’s groundbreaking book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”, the former image of introverts as shy, mousey people who cannot look another person in the eye is quickly disappearing.
Here are five reasons people need to appreciate the abilities of that quiet guy or gal who sits through meetings without saying much … would rather eat lunch alone instead of with a big group … or prefers to skip the after work office social happy hour for a hot cup of tea at home.
- Introverts are superior listeners. Communication skills are critical for everyone on the corporate ladder, and while extroverts may dominate the verbal aspect of the skill, introverts make better listeners. Active listening skills are one key to creating the healthiest and happiest work relationships.
- Introverts make fantastic managers and supervisors. Introverts are focused on getting the job done and don’t care as much about who gets the credit – unlike the extrovert who loves the spotlight and attention. Introverts are more likely to assemble a great team and give them the room to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. Not only will that get the job at hand done, but it leads to a happier and more productive workplace.
- Introverts are more creative in finding solutions to problems. Because introverts are, by definition, naturally more reflective, they tend to be more creative. Creativity is often the most essential tool in problem solving difficult challenges, and introverts are already hardwired to do it.
- Introverts aren’t antisocial – in fact, they’re the opposite. Introversion has nothing to do with being shy or not wanting to be around people, but it has everything to do with the how sensitive a person is to stimulation. Introverts enjoy interacting with people as much as any extrovert, but they don’t feel the need to do it 24/7. In the office, they’ll enjoy building relationships throughout every department and since they tend not to step on other people’s toes or steamroll others, those relationships will be some of the strongest in the company.
- Introverts are happiest collaborating … seriously! Have you ever been on a work team with the company extrovert? Or worse yet … several of them? Their potentially overwhelming presence alone is enough to kill any chance of creative energy, and the battle to take control of the team often takes precedent over getting things done. Introverts, on the other hand, enjoy collaboration and, with small groups, are actually very comfortable sharing their ideas to complete the project quickly.
This isn’t to say that extroverts don’t have their own strengths in the workplace, because they certainly do. However, the stigma that office introverts lived with throughout the last half of the last century and the first two decades of this one is going the way of flip phones and fax machines.