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15 Things Introverts Don’t Do At Work That Makes Them Excel

15 Things Introverts Don’t Do At Work That Makes Them Excel

Raise your hand if you’re an introvert.

Introverts are everywhere (one out of every two or three people you know). And they are like icebergs. What you see on the surface is only a small percentage of their entire selves. It’s just that they don’t usually help people to see the rest of them or the strengths they bring to the work environment.

If you work with an introverted person, you’re going to have to look for the substance underneath to fully appreciate introverts have incredibly valuable input at work. Keep in mind that introversion seems to increase with intelligence so that more than 75% of people with an IQ above 160 are introverted.

Here are fifteen things introverts don’t do at work that gives them a marked edge to excel in the workplace.

1. They don’t speak before they think.

While most extroverts will interrupt you when you are trying to say something because they can’t wait for their turn to speak, introverts will take their time before opening their mouth, quietly listening and reflecting in their head instead of thinking out loud.

Joe McHugh, vice president of executive services for the Edina, Minnesota, office of Right Management Consultants explains: “Colleagues and bosses need to realize that introverts often don’t know what they think immediately, and that they need time to think things through before coming to a conclusion.” It’s critical, Joe stresses, that you “circle back to introverts after they’ve had some time to consider things.”

2. They don’t encourage endless small talk.

This is especially true when it comes to engaging with a raging extrovert because, let’s be honest, office small talk is a drain. It will put any introvert out of her element. Unlike extroverts who are energized by such interactions, introverts are exhausted and or bored by them. Introverts prefer much deeper conversations, ideally about philosophical ideas.

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Sophia Dembling, author of The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World, explains that it ultimately comes down to how a person receives (or doesn’t receive) energy from his or her surroundings.

3. They don’t crave attention or the limelight.

The thing with introverts is that popularity contests aren’t their thing. They do their best work on their own and don’t really like attention. This is in stark contrast with what extroverts generally like. Extroverts tend to engage in boisterous, attention-seeking behaviors and demonstrate great enthusiasm and assertiveness in a bid to gain external recognition and or reward.

It’s no wonder introverts are often overlooked for leadership roles, even though they make the most thoughtful leaders when selected.

4. They don’t sit all day at their desk, cursing the world and shunning daylight.

Just because introverts like to be alone and don’t like small talk or being in the limelight doesn’t mean they are disheveled, anti-social misfits or loners. They don’t sit all day at their desk cursing the world and shunning daylight. Introverts sit quietly incubating new ideas and executing plans for success.

They create brilliant works of art, launch start-ups, and lead major corporations. They are happy to bring you along with them, just as long as you don’t insist on introducing a noisy crowd into their world.

5. They don’t patronize those they lead or supervise.

The reason introverts do so well in leadership positions is because they thrive by listening carefully, even to suggestions from below. It is second nature for introverted bosses to listen, appreciate and validate great ideas, and highly unlikely for them to treat those they lead condescendingly. Take Doug Conant, an introvert and former CEO of Campbell’s Soup, for example. Doug has been celebrated for writing more than 30,000 personalized thank you notes to his employees. It’s hard to imagine an extrovert doing that.

6. They generally don’t evoke negative emotions in others.

Studies suggest that extroverts feel more positive emotions than introverts due in part to the former’s larger networks. However, it turns out, extroverts don’t always cause other people to feel those same positive emotions. In fact, studies of work groups show that extroverts actually have slightly more difficult relationships with teammates and elicit more negative emotions in others compared to introverts. Many extroverts, consequently, often start out with higher status but lose it over time.

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7. They don’t mind networking as extroverts when necessary.

Many introverts are friendly and sociable. They are just as comfortable networking as extroverts because their low-key demeanor is far removed from being shy. As author Susan Cain reiterated in her 2012 TED Talk titled The Power of Introverts, “Shyness is about fear of social judgment. Introversion is more about how do you respond to stimulation, including social stimulation.”

So there are many shy extroverts, who are hesitant and self-conscious when dealing with new people, but love going to rock concerts. And there are also many sociable introverts who will easily strike up a conversation with people at parties until it’s time to retire to their quieter, more laid-back and preferred environments.

8. They don’t stay silent on topics they’re passionate about.

The prevailing stereotype in many workplaces is that extroverts are charismatic and not shy of speaking, while introverts are shy and never speak up. The truth, however, is that introverts won’t speak unless they have something important to say and or are deeply passionate about a topic.

“Speaking is not an act of extroversion,” observes Malcolm Gladwell, an introverted writer who spends a lot of time on stage. “It has nothing to do with extroversion. It’s a performance, and many performers are hugely introverted.”

Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, Ph.D, a certified speaking professional, concurs: “At least half of people who speak for a living are introverted in nature,” she says. “They succeed on stage – just not in the chit-chat afterwards.”

9. They don’t act rashly.

Introverts have an attitude of observance, reflection and caution. They don’t act rashly.

Instead, they pause before action and are characteristically sure and steady.

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This pause, often mistaken for hesitation, gives them time to study and analyze situations so that the actions taken make the most sense in the long run. In contrast, extroverts tend to be more spontaneous and respond immediately, adapting as necessary after engagement. Acting in haste is not necessarily bad, but it is often dangerous.

10. They don’t support superficial office politics and gossip.

There are a many shallow people in our workplaces. These people knowingly or unknowingly prefer to keep things light and superficial. If you are not careful, you can easily get swept away by their endless chitchat, politics and gossip.

Fortunately for introverts, they naturally don’t enjoy small talk or empty chitchat that has no real substance, and that doesn’t go beyond the surface. Introverts just won’t give gossip the time of day, and discussing other people’s business with everyone truly isn’t in their DNA.

11. They don’t feel bored working long hours.

Introverts have an impressive ability to focus deeply on one activity. They actually enjoy (and thrive) working long hours by themselves in environments that are quiet and peaceful.

By contrast, extroverts dread being alone for extended periods of time and easily get bored doing one thing for too long. That being said, introverts are distracted and sometimes overwhelmed by crowds in loud, open office spaces.

12. They don’t mind taking on solo projects.

While extroverts love working in groups or teams and dread solo projects, introverts work well on one-to-one relationships and are naturally drawn to more creative, detail-oriented solo careers that allows them to “dive in” with few interruptions.

The latter’s ability to focus deeply on a subject and work long hours by themselves make them perfectly suited for certain professions, such as researchers, behind-the-scenes tech workers, in-the-field natural scientists and writers.

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13. They don’t appreciate interruptions when working.

Introverts don’t like being interrupted until work is finished because it causes them to abandon focus or thought on the current project. Besides, most interruption by friends requires a certain level of small talk that introverts avoid.

Introverts will actually screen phone calls and let calls go to voicemail so they can return them later when they have the time and energy to dedicate to the conversation. On the other hand, many extroverts secretly enjoy being interrupted occasionally by colleagues and friends after working on one thing for an extended period of time because it breaks the silence and dispels boredom.

14. They don’t miss deadlines easily.

That’s because they are good at processing information and planning ahead. “As long as goals and deadlines are understood, there’s no need to hover over their shoulders and micromanage,” he says.  “You’ll get the most out of an introverted employee by giving them clear expectations and a lot of space.”

15. They don’t hate people or colleagues.

Just because introverts are self-reflective and dislike being interrupted at work doesn’t mean they hate people.

Far from it; they just tend to do their best work on their own, prefer a few good friends over many acquaintances, and need to be given air time as they typically will not demand it.

Once you give them that and understand they are more reserved, you can establish a deep and fulfilling personal and professional relationship with them. And you want to be friends with introverts because, in a word, they are hard-wired for excellence in whatever field of specialty they choose at work.

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on January 14, 2019

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

Regardless of whether you hold an entry-level administration role or regularly travel to the ends of the Earth as a hot-shot senior executive, you can still find yourself harboring an emptiness… a feeling that something is missing. A popular assumption that experiencing job satisfaction and a successful career should be underpinned by a well-rounded suite of tangible benefits, no longer holds true for many of us.

We’d never deny health care benefits, appropriate and fair remuneration, bonuses and travel perks in a job package. However, even if served to us on a silver platter, those features can only satiate us to a certain point.

You might wonder what governs entrepreneurs and start-up business owners to quit their lucrative jobs, essentially look the gift horse in the mouth and kiss such benefits goodbye! There can be an irresistible pull to mastermind a business with products and/or services that serve the greater good of community wider than that constituting their daily existence.

Even with research showing entrepreneurship to pose greater threats to their mental and physical health, this unique breed of individuals choose to go against the grain in chasing their dreams of being their own boss. Why? Why would anyone risk this type of career suicide?

Whether you’re an employee, have recently taken the leap to being a business owner or been in business for a while, the commonality is a congenital condition we all share as human beings; to feel a sense of purpose, value and contribution to our community. Despite it being harder to find this for ourselves in today’s world, these approaches will help you achieve ultimate satisfaction through the twists, turns and joyrides that are essential features of shaping a successful career.

1. Search for Opportunities That Feed Your Passion, Not Temporary Excitement

Even though well-intended, the ‘feel good now’ compass that career coaches and consultants often recommend you use to create career satisfaction can actually do you more harm than good. Excitement is transient. It doesn’t last. Passion is the compass you need.

Passion and excitement are two different things. The resounding career legacy that still draws you to turn up on the job regardless of the sunshine or storm that awaits you…that’s passion. It’s like a mental and/or emotional itch you can’t shrug off. Staying attuned to that calling will breed success for you sooner or later. Patience is key.

You’re also likely to have more than one key passion. Beware of getting caught in the notion you have to find your one true purpose. In fact, run immediately from any coach who tells you there is only one. There isn’t.

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Your passion is a journey that can take multiple forms so forget thinking there is the single dream job out there that will give you satisfaction in every way you can imagine. It simply doesn’t exist.

Consider embracing different roles and projects to help you fuel your passion or fuel your pursuits in finding it. Job satisfaction and your career success will be all the more sweeter from a wider range of enriching experiences.

2. Don’t Position Job and Career Satisfaction Assessments as Pivotal Guides to Your Success

Despite their popular use for vocational guidance, assessment tools such as Gallup’s Clifton Strengths and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator have come under fire[1] as being limited to the amount of true value and direction they can offer partakers.[2] These and many other guidance assessment tools (e.g. VIA Character Strengths , DISC ) are self-report questionnaires that don’t have normative population data against which to compare your results.

Simply remember these tools help you develop a stronger sense of what you identify as strengths and weaknesses within yourself, not in comparison with other people. They will still add insight around what sorts of career opportunities, tasks and projects are going to light your fire, what ones are going to extinguish it and what will prod and keep the coals steadily smoldering.

3. Be Clear on Your Personal Values, Ethics and Principles and Choose Relationships That Support You Honoring Them

Teamwork, collaboration, open communication and trust are commonplace for any flourishing work environment. However, whether or not your personal values can be honored in your work can make or break your job satisfaction.

How committed do you want to be to an organization that expects an average of 10 unpaid overtime hours every week under the guise of ‘reasonable overtime’? Are you willing to accept their construing this expectation as ‘strong commitment’ at the expense of your partner and children waiting at home for you? What are your boundaries concerning when you clock on to their time and when you clock off to yours?

Being very in tune with what your personal values, principles and ethics are will bid you well in the job satisfaction stakes. Spending time to reflect on experiences and working relationships you’ve had – the good, the bad and the ugly – will help you make well-informed searches and grounded decisions that will propel your career success.

Finding and nurturing relationships with associates and colleagues who share similar values doesn’t just make your day-to-day pursuits more enjoyable. You become fortunate to work with like-minded people who will support, understand and appreciate you like a second family.

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Being able to honor your personal values in your work means you will still be able to sleep at night when you have to tread where others fear to, and make extremely difficult decisions others would never ever dream of having to make as you forge success in your career.

4. Be Clear on Your Own Definition of What Having a Successful Career Means for You

It’s tempting to get caught up in the ideals and projections of success expressed by those we love, admire and respect. Underneath, we all want on some level to belong to a successful club of some sort.

With research reporting how much money we feel we need to be truly happy,[3] many of us try to subscribe to the notion that having the car of our dreams or taking a European holiday annually will not bring us happiness. The truth, however, for many of us is these tangible rewards are congratulatory reminders of our persistent efforts to chase our career pursuits.

If those are things you aspire to, don’t let anyone steal your desire and want to feel deserving of these things, that those are some parameters by which you define your career success.

Despite consistently being the top revenue earner for two years running, you may not wish to become the sales manager. You may not wish to step out into running your own business even though you consistently excel as an employee, delighting clients and repeatedly receiving glowing testimonials.

Your definition of career success might be enjoying the predictability of a regular workplace routine. You get to leave – without feeling guilty – at the same time each day, love the people you work with and get to spend a good, uninterrupted amount of work-stress free quality time with your family. That picture is also blissful job satisfaction and complete career success.

5. Identify the Sorts of Challenges and Problems You Want to Learn to Overcome

Standard advice you might receive from a career coach might be to look for opportunities where you get to capitalize on exercising your strengths and career-related activities you enjoy.

However, to become a success at anything involves improvement. To excel at anything often involves stepping outside boundaries and comfort zones where others wouldn’t. This means dedicating focus and attention to things you’re not so good at and things you don’t like.

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Here’s where working with a coach can be particularly helpful. Map out the experiences that were unsavory in your working history. Were there challenges you opted out of, projects you failed at or toxic relationships that blasted your sense of purpose and self-worth into oblivion? It’s within these experiences that you might just find the most valuable lessons and guiding lights for your trajectory to achieve greater job satisfaction.

If your natural leadership style is to be a collaborator, finding opportunities that require you to apply a more dictatorial style might be needed. Discussing a secondment or short-term project where you get to develop and test your skills can be a step further in earning contention to lead a larger project down the track.

With several of the company’s boldest personality types penciled to roll out the operation, you’ll not only develop skills that earn your right to throw your hat in the ring; those key players have an opportunity to see your competence. You can then work on building relationships with those stakeholders before you need to hit the ground running should you win the lead.

Greater job satisfaction comes with planning and choosing the lessons and opportunities you want to learn, not desperately flailing, floundering and hoping for the best.

6. Keep Reviewing Your Goal Posts and Be Amenable to Change

The word ‘career’ is indicative of a longer-term pathway of change, growth and development. The journey is dynamic.

You will accumulate new skills and let those you no longer need, become rusty. Your intrigue will be stimulated by new experiences, knowledge and people you meet. Your thinking will continue to expand, not shrink. As a result, your goalposts are likely to change.

A major part of enjoying a successful career is not just setting goals effectively, but regularly reviewing and readjusting them where necessary. However, moving the posts or the target still needs to take place by applying the same processes by which you originally created them. The strength of your emotional connection to those revised goals needs to be the same, if not stronger.

By asking yourself the following questions, you can assure your developmental and growth trajectory is still on course:

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  • Would working toward these goals still allow me to honor my personal values, principles and ethics at the same capacity if not greater?
  • Do the activities I need to undertake to meet these goals honor my highest priorities?
  • Does this feel right for me and those who are nearest and dearest to me?
  • Is this aligned with my passion?
  • Is chasing this goal a right step for me to take now or is this a detour or distraction which could delay my greater plan?

Each of your career goals should have different review periods. Whatever you do, stick to the review schedule you set. It will not only keep you focused but help you see your progress (or lack thereof) and allow you to timely re-chart your course before you get too far down the track. You don’t want to waste time haphazardly heading in the wrong direction.

7. Be Prepared to Let Go

It can be unfathomable to us as to why others risk leaping into the unknown when everything truly appears fine and dandy in the career realm. The company provided stability, recognition, financial success, interesting projects and the promise of a promotion…what was wrong? Why now jump sideways to run a café or train in another field altogether?

Nothing may have been wrong at all. It was all going right. It was just the end of a chapter. Perhaps the yearning for the next step is actually taking a different trajectory entirely. You may want to simply experience a different rhythm. Perhaps it’s time to pursue a different passion.

If you have leaped from employee-land to freelancing or have made the reverse-jump (or you know someone who has), you will have quickly grown a different appreciation for pros and cons each work lifestyle brings. Working for yourself can bring the greater realization of your creativity, whether or not it can be monetized to earn you a living.

When your customers are buying you or a product you designed and fashioned, there is a direct level of appreciation and gratitude that can elevate your confidence in the way you have never experienced as an employee, regardless of your rank.

Similarly, there are times where we need to recognize our business ventures were adventures, not long-term life-changing empires. There are times we need to recognize that time is what provides the clearest limitation of how long we persist for in such pursuits.

We have to recognize the absence of enough financial, mental, emotional and physical breadcrumbs that tells us we’re no longer meant to push in that direction. At least, not for the present time.

The Bottom Line

Above all, keep the momentum. As long as you remain committed to pursuing work opportunities that allow you to honor your highest priorities, the truth of who you are and what you stand for, achieving ultimate job satisfaction and a successful career will never be too far away.

More Resources to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Csaba Balazs via unsplash.com

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