We’ve come to notice that society rewards those with extroverted tendencies. Qualities like being social and externally stimulated are regarded as ideal indications of engagement and involvement. And that’s why it’s increasingly easier for introverts to be overlooked and become out of touch in the workplace.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Introversion is a personality trait with a focus on internal feelings (introspection) rather than external stimulation. Most people think introverts are shy, but that’s not necessarily true. It’s more about how we think and digest information.
Introverts tend to be more soft-spoken, but the crucial thing to know is that they gain energy from their inner world and like to think before they speak. You might be an introvert if you:
Like to focus on single tasks
Prefer in-depth conversation instead of small talk
Enjoy quiet time and prefer to work alone
Understanding how your employees prefer to spend time and interact is crucial when developing employee engagement and communication strategies. With remote work here for the indefinite future, engaging introverts at work is now an even more challenging task.
Leaders should be aware of personality types so all groups of people can have their voices heard. If introverts are a mystery to you, it’s time to truly understand and learn how to interact with them. Here are nine areas to consider.
1. Understand their behaviors
A balanced team environment is a place where all sorts of personalities thrive, and it’s often up to leaders to set the tone.
The power of introverts has become a hot topic. Leaders should notice their strengths, like how skilled they are at taking independent action. But recognize and be mindful of their limitations too—don’t be afraid to ask them about it and encourage accountability in their goals and areas of improvement.
You may see a quiet employee giving only the occasional response and think that they’re unengaged. If they’re an introvert, they’re likely listening and processing information before forming ideas and letting them loose on the spot.
Actionable tip: Understand that an engaged extrovert normally looks different from an engaged introvert. If someone doesn’t think out loud, chances are they’re taking the time to assess the situation and information rather than being uninterested.
2. Be available for them, and let them know
The best leaders successfully encourage employees to exhibit their authentic selves. Sometimes, it just takes a bit more proactiveness to understand an introvert’s unique needs. Team building doesn’t come easy for introverts, so get to know them and learn what their individual motivations are to align on actions and goals.
Actionable tip: Always ask your teammates what they need and what works for them, especially the introverts. Often self-aware, they usually know themselves well.
3. Allow flexibility and prioritize schedules for focus work
Being comfortable with solitude means that the introverted working style typically favors being alone rather than in noisy social settings. This is the reason why it’s important to balance out the ratio of group to individual work. Respect their need for privacy as they thrive in quiet moments.
Actionable tip: Curate meeting-free days to encourage focus and reflection, where creative ideas come to life.
4. Let the team prepare for meetings in advance
Unlike extroverts who like to think out loud and throw their ideas out to the world openly, introverts need time to let ideas simmer and develop. When preparing for a meeting, it’s best if introverts get a heads up so they can process information and think through talking points.
Actionable tip: The use of agendas is a great tool to get everyone on the same page and prepare for pointers so that extroverts don’t dominate the entire conversation.
5. Offer training and resources for developing skills
Don’t get me wrong, being an introvert doesn’t mean that you’re not good at public speaking. But having resources for skills like networking and public speaking can challenge introverts out of their comfort zone.
Actionable tip: Encourage your introverted team members to share their professional goals. Remember, they’re not averse to challenges but may need encouragement and time to recover from long periods of interaction.
6. Don’t single them out
It’s intimidating to be in the hot seat, so try not to demand instant responses and call people out. On the other hand, you don’t want to leave someone out just because they work better alone as collaboration is a big part of engagement. Introverts can feel isolated too.
Actionable tip: Creating a small group setting allows introverts to thrive and feel more comfortable because huge teams can be extremely chaotic (which is stressful for everyone).
7. Listen—let them speak and be heard
It’s important to empower introverts to speak up not just because they represent so much of the workforce, but they also carry insightful observations and great ideas. Want to learn more about them? Ask directly, because chances are, they’re very self-aware and in tune with what they’re doing.
Always collect feedback curiously. If you want an honest assessment of how things are going, the 1:1 meeting is a great opportunity. Anonymous surveys are a great way to tap into the genius of a whole team without putting someone on the spot.
Just because introverts aren’t always in the spotlight doesn’t mean that they don’t value recognition. Shout-outs are a great way to acknowledge someone. It’s a public form of appreciation which affects their level of motivation, without a direct need to respond.
Actionable tip: Give introverts opportunities and never overlook them for leadership roles. Their habit of listening and reflection makes for great decision-makers who’re composed when facing challenges.
9. Realize not all introverts are the same
We all have hybrid introvert and extrovert tendencies of some sort, and most people fall in the middle of this spectrum. Every person is different, so talk to all of your teammates frequently in an open environment that encourages them to speak freely.
Don’t assume that quiet people have nothing to say, or extroverts can’t work alone. Everyone prefers to receive information and communicate differently, and there’s certainly no personality type that reigns supreme.
Actionable tip: Remember to regularly spend 1:1 time with team members to build a unique relationship that supports them individually.
In a world seemingly dominated by extroverts, you’d be surprised what your introvert employees can bring to the table. Providing them with a supportive environment that works with their natural abilities and tendencies will result in happier employees who’ll contribute more to your team.
Want to create a workplace where introverts can thrive?