“Introverts” are often thought of as shy or unsocial. However, this is not necessarily true. While shyness is a fear of people due to insecurity or social anxiety, introversion is a more complex personality trait. Many introverts socialize easily but end up feeling drained by too much social interaction. This is because people who are introverted tend to turn inward, rather than seeking external stimulation.

Unlike extroverts, who find energy interacting with others, introverts feel energized by time alone.

It’s important to recognize introverts in the workplace, acknowledge their needs, and play to their strengths. Most introverts focus deeply and prefer quiet spaces with minimal distractions and interruptions. They connect deeply one-on-one, but may need additional time to recharge after group meetings or conferences.

Extroverted leaders may experience some difficulty in managing introverts simply because they have completely opposite ways of interacting.  Extroverts sometimes assume introverts are uninvolved or unmotivated because they tend to be less assertive.

There are ways to utilize an introvert’s unique abilities:

  1. Work together to create a space and/or schedule that works. Introverts are often the most efficient team members, but they may struggle in an open office environment. Boost productivity by allowing them to wear headphones or work from home once or twice a week.
  2. Invest in a one-on-one relationship. Set aside time to understand their communication preferences and discuss ideas or work challenges privately.
  3. Extroverts often dominate in meetings. Encourage introverts to read the agenda and prepare notes prior to the meeting to formulate their thoughts and ideas. If they do not contribute in the meeting, ask them later, outside of the group setting, for their input.
  4. Consider introverts for management positions. Introverted managers are effective because they listen well and carefully consider the ideas of others.

One-third to one-half of the population is introverted, yet most workspaces are set up for extroverts. With co-working spaces and cubicle-free offices, introverts are struggling to remain comfortable and productive at work. Instead of changing your office set up, think about implementing these alternative, strategic methods to improve communication and collaboration.

Not sure if you’re an introvert or extrovert? Read this to find out where you are on the spectrum!