Let’s Stop the War on Workplace Introverts
The average employee experiences 56 interruptions a day and spends 2 hours recovering from said distractions.
That’s a staggering amount of time wasted on taking part in side conversations, checking social media, and impromptu coffee breaks. Yet, somewhere along the way, all of those distractions not only became more acceptable, but more encouraged than going heads down and doing deep work for extended periods of time.
It’s gotten to the point where workers that don’t require as much external stimulation as others aren’t considered “team players” or are seen as not taking part in the networking necessary to succeed in the workplace.
To steal a line from my overtly expressive counterparts: Give me a break.
I can’t speak for all introverts, but in the era of the “time thief”, every minute of the work day can be better spent doing things other than making appearances to “prove” I’m a team player. I love a good convo as much as the next person, but how often are those drive-by conversations a means to an end?
Look, Toby, just tell me what you need from me without the 10 minute tangent on last night’s game. You’re busy. I’m busy. We’re all busy. Let’s cut the chit chat and get right to the real talk.
Whereas extroverts feel energized after social interactions, we introverts need some alone time to get back into the flow of things. Because daily routines and goals are extremely important to me, I choose to read up on industry trends over my lunch break or go on a quick run when I have a few hours without scheduled meetings. I prefer those types of activities over random small talk not because I’m being an “a**hole”, but because those actions give me time to refocus and contribute to my personal goals. And when you’re a parent, as I am, you have to cherish any minute you can designate to yourself.
All this is not to say that if introverts had their way they would all become some sort of mole men that lurk in the office shadows. As a former military brat that relocated seemingly every year, I know all too well the benefits––and there are many––of networking for survival. But that’s the thing: while extroverts NEED to socially interact at all times––I swear the extreme types would not last a second in “A Quiet Place”–– introverts are more deliberate in striking up conversations.
If we’re on a project together, I’m going to be all up in your grill to make sure you and I both get what we need. If you’re not, I’m going to keep our convos brief. For my preferred work style, where I need to own my day to do great work, setting this type of precedent is vital to me maximizing the value I bring to the company.
With our powers combined…
Just like how introverts (awkwardly) take part in things like “optional” team outings and recurring group exercises because they see the benefits of those types of interactions, extroverts and team leaders need to see the benefits of the more reserved way of doing things.
We’re strong listeners
We’re not deathly silent during meetings because we’re shy. We’re focusing on what people are saying instead of waiting for a moment to chime in. You know those meetings that go an hour over? I’ll go out on a limb and say the extrovert/introvert balance in that meeting was off.
We’re low maintenance
Good news, boss. Because we’re self-motivated, we’re extremely easy to manage. Just let us get immersed in our work and you’re good to go.
All that stuff about chit chat I mentioned earlier? Throw that out the window if you’re willing to have a deep conversation with me. Introverts prefer small group settings and conversations that are meaningful.
We’re team players (really!)
Because introverts don’t need to be “all up in the videos”, we make for some awesome coworkers. Yes, we need to be appreciated just like everybody else, but go ahead and fight for the spotlight. We’ll support you.
Introverts make the best writers. You know why? Because introverts prefer to take the time to think things through rather than providing an impulsive response. Every word is important to us, so you know when we speak (or write) it’s carefully thought out.
We’re gossip stoppers
Everybody takes part in some form of gossip from time to time, but because introverts rather stay to themselves, that means they’re not the main culprit for workplace gossip. That’s a good thing, right?
Thoughtfulness Is The New Black
With Activity-Based Working becoming more commonplace, introverts finally have environments that are more accommodating to their work style. But that’s not enough. There needs to be a fundamental shift in how introverts are viewed not only in the workplace, but in the outside world.
This unofficial mandate that you need to be seen and heard at all times to prove your worth needs to end. Louder isn’t always better.
People that keep their egos in check and are thoughtful need to be valued, not shunned. Now more than ever.