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Are You an Introvert in an Extrovert-Oriented Workplace?

May 17, 2013


Are you frustrated with a constant stream of interruptions to your work? Do you often feel put on the spot when asked for impromptu feedback during meetings? Do you feel drained after presentations, meetings, or other gatherings that require you to do a lot of talking? Do your co-workers talk over you during team brainstorms? Is your office way too loud? If you answered yes to several of these questions, you may be experiencing the difficulties of an introvert working in an extraversion-oriented environment. CPP’s Sherrie Haynie offers some tips to reduce stress in these situations.

Left unperceived, these personality differences may lead to stress, which may cause diminished performance or burnout in otherwise talented people. While the challenges are substantial, having a preference for introversion should not prevent you from performing at your peak, even in a work environment that heavily favors extraversion…you must learn to exhibit behaviors based on the demands of your environment.

  • Tip: Identify activities that seem to sap your energy, and plan ahead for decompression time. For someone with a preference for introversion, you need to make sure that you include sufficient time in your schedule to work alone and that you limit your daily time in brainstorming meetings and noisy environments.
  • Tip: Teach your colleagues how to best to communicate with you. If you need time to think before answering a question, explain this to them - and be sure to follow up with an answer, or they may think you’re dodging them.
  • Tip: You can counter this expectation by preparing ahead of time for meetings. The more you can anticipate and plan in advance, the more comfortable and less stressed you’ll feel when someone asks you to comment during a meeting.
  • Tip: Take time alone to reflect and direct your focus on thoughts, ideas and internal feelings. You’ll want to schedule regular breaks throughout the day, too. In these ways, you’ll keep your batteries charged, and keep your stress levels under control.
  • Tip: Watch for early warning signs of stress among coworkers. Extreme stress can result in the opposite personality preference erupting. This makes it particularly important to recognize early warning signs, because if the stress escalates, you may not recognize signs of more severe stress in your extraversion-oriented colleagues, as they may be internalized.

By understanding that one set of behaviors is innate and the other learned, you are empowered to flex your full behavioral range. Thus, if you have a preference for introverted behavior, you can still give a top notch performance within an extravert-prevalent environment.


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