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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 August 20, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up.

You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out. But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

Check out these important listening skills: 13 Powerful Listening Skills to Improve Your Life at Work and at Home

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

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4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

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These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

Not sure how to find the right mentor? Here’s How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

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You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

More About Continuous Growth

Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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