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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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Published on January 28, 2020

How to Ace an Interview: Nailing the 10 Most Tricky Questions

How to Ace an Interview: Nailing the 10 Most Tricky Questions

As someone who has been in recruiting for over 10 years I can tell you the interview is vitally important to getting that new job you really want. During the interview process, there will most likely be at least 2 interviews, a phone interview and an in person interview. Both are important.

Companies can of course have different interviewing processes but in general, there is at least one phone interview, also known as a phone screen, and a live, in-person interview. The in-person interview can be with one person or it might be with a variety of people. While they are both important, the live interview is typically the one that will make or break you as a candidate for the position you are interviewing for.

Many of the interview questions we will review here will more likely come up during the live interview. But it’s a good idea to be prepared for them on the phone interview as well.

To illustrate how important the live interview is, I’ll tell you about my search that happened a year ago. I’d decided it was time to move on from the role I’d been in for a little over 6 years. As I started researching and looking for a new opportunity, I began down the path with 2 companies. With the one I landed with, I’d had 3 separate phone screens, each one an hour long. They must have thought they went well because I was asked to fly to the city where the corporate office is at and do an in-person interview. — with 8 people.

Yeah, it was a long day. The good news is I rocked the interviews across the board. I flew home that evening and the following day, I received a call with the job offer. That was less than 24 hours after I’d had the in person interview. This is how important the live interview is.

So how to ace an interview? We can dive right in to helping you nail the 10 most tricky interview questions:

1. What’s Your Biggest Weakness?

This is a personal favorite of mine. The primary reason for this question is not to actually find out what your biggest weakness is. Unless of course, you say something like “showing up to work on a regular basis,” then it’s probably going to get you kicked out of consideration for the role.

The main reason for someone asking you this question is to see if you are self-aware. That is if you know your weaknesses and are smart enough to account for them.

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The smart play here is to answer in a modest way. You want to be able to show that your biggest weakness actually has an upside. For instance, I usually say that mine is impatience. Which is true, I like to get things done. But what I ensure what I point out is that even though I am impatient, it’s because I like to crank and get a lot of work done.

2. Why Do You Want to Work Here?

Interestingly enough, a lot of people don’t have an answer to this question. It’s designed to find out if you’ve actually done research on the company and if you are excited about this position.

When I ask this question, many people have told me something like “because it looks like a good opportunity”. I mean, can you be any more generic?

The key to answering this is to show you’ve done research on the company and that you are enthusiastic about the actual position. Companies want people that are excited to work there, not just someone that shows up for a paycheck.

3. Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

Employers are asking you this question to see if you have somewhat of a plan for your career. It doesn’t have to be completely mapped out in a step by step manner but, a general overall plan is good to see. It means you are goal oriented and are working towards something.

Don’t worry about answering in a way that states you are planning on sticking with the company until you retire. Rather, focus more on how it’s important to you to continue to learn and get better and better at what you do. Companies like to hire self-motivated people.

4. Tell Me About a Time You Messed Up

Or tell me about a time something didn’t work out the way you planned. Similar in concept. The key here is to show that you take accountability for your actions and how you react to things going wrong.

Companies like to see that you are willing to accept responsibility for the things you oversee and own up when you are wrong. People that always find a way to blame their missteps on other people or circumstances typically don’t make good team mates.

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The other component here is things don’t always go as planned, how good are you at adapting and thinking on your feet.

5. Why Are You Looking to Leave Your Current Job?

This may seem like a place to launch into all the things you don’t like about your current job. Or to talk about what a terrible person your boss is. Don’t do it. That’s the path you do not want to go down. And that’s really what this question tends to prod out of many people.

If I am interviewing you and ask this question and you tell me all the ways your boss doesn’t appreciate you and your company has terrible leadership, I’m thinking what you’re going to be saying about me in a year when you are interviewing somewhere else.

Make sure you are framing your answer in a way that doesn’t shed bad light on your current or most recent employer. You want to focus on things like you’ve enjoyed working for the company but your growth options are limited there so you are exploring outside opportunities.

6. How Would Your Current Manager Describe You?

This question gives you the opportunity to show off your strengths and what your boss appreciates about what you bring to the table. You want to focus on the positive traits that your boss likes and how it helps you in your role.

What you do not want to do is sprinkle in the things your boss doesn’t think as highly of. Don’t say something like my boss would describe me as a focused worker, at least on the days I make it into the office.

7. Tell Me About a Time You Overcame an Obstacle

Another one of my favorite questions. Interviewers ask this question to see if you are able to deal with roadblocks.

Things don’t always go smoothly, so having people on the team who are able to solve problems has huge upside.

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Being able to overcome obstacles is a great trait to have. Make sure you have a few stories about how something didn’t go as planned that caused a challenge and how you were involved in solving the problem. It’s a way of turning a bad situation into a good one.

8. Why Should We Hire You?

If you are at the point of a live interview, you should be highly interested in the position.

By this point, you should have a pretty clear picture of what the role is and how your skills and experience will help you succeed. The reason this question is being asked is to see if you are the right candidate for this role.

This gives you a great opportunity to tell your interviewer how your expertise will positively impact the role. Right now, you are in the spotlight to clearly show that your experience is the perfect fit for the position and why. Shine on!

9. What’s Your Greatest Achievement?

Employers tend to ask this question to gain an understanding of what your big wins were. What are the really impactful things that have happened during your career and how you were the reason why they happened.

This is another great opportunity for you to toot your own horn. What you want to be conscious of is how you tell the story about your biggest achievement. You want to make sure you say why it was such a big achievement.

If possible, it’s always good to include your team as part of the big win. Employers love to hire people who can make things happen but, it’s also important they understand the importance of team work.

10. Do You Have Any Questions for Me?

You might be asking yourself why this is a tricky question. Honestly, it’s not a tricky question if you are prepared for it.

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What the interviewer is looking for here is how interested and excited you are for the position. You’d be surprised at how many people answer this question with a blank stare or have no questions prepared.

Again, if you are at a live interview, you should be highly interested in a position and the company. You will convey how interested you are in the opportunity with some well thought out questions to ask.

You don’t want to just ask one question like “How often is payday”? Have at least 4 to 5 questions prepared but don’t overwhelm your interviewer with dozens and dozens of questions. Show that you’ve given some serious thought to this position by coming prepared with solid questions to ask.

The Bottom Line

There you go, insight to nailing the 10 most tricky questions during the interview process. There are, of course, many other questions you might get asked during the interview process but, these tend to be the ones that trip most people up.

Remember to take your time and thoroughly prepare for the interview. You don’t have to memorize your answers or anything but having a good idea of how you’d answer these questions will help you ace the next interview.

Here’s to being career advancement ready!

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Featured photo credit: Romain V via unsplash.com

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