It’s no secret that when it comes to work environments, extroversion typically gets rewarded positively. Yet, author Susan Cain’s recent book QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talking points out that introverts make up one-third to one-half of the U.S. population.
Does this sound familiar? At the end of a long day meetings can leave you feeling drained and lacking mental energy. When you pick up the phone to make a call, you hope for voicemail on the other end. Water cooler small talk feels forced and unnatural. And rather than join your coworkers at happy hour, you’d rather have alone time at home on the couch with your dog. If all of these scenarios sound like you, you may be an introvert.
And contrary to what people think, introversion doesn’t mean you’re antisocial, lazy or shy. In fact, some of the best leaders are introverts. Personality traits of introverts can be strengths both professionally and personally. In work environments that reward extroverts, it can be hard to find your voice. But it’s not impossible. Here’s how you can flourish at work as an introvert and some ways to unwind after those long days.
Get to know your co-workers and set rules for your interactions
Developing relationships with your colleagues and co-workers is important because you’ll have allies who will support your ideas and are willing to go to bat for you. Once you’re on friendly terms, let them know you prefer email rather than phone conversations. If you have the luxury, work in a conference room or a coffee shop where it’s not as easy to be interrupted. And schedule regular meetings to avoid spontaneous ones that can disrupt your flow.
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Recognize your need for rest and schedule alone time in your calendar
If you have to give a big presentation or collaborate for several days at a conference, give yourself permission to restore your energy levels. And if you must bond with peers outside of the office, make sure you focus on quality time vs. how much time you’re spending. At the same time, your calendar should have blocked off times for you to have uninterrupted focus for certain projects, or to simply take a much-needed break.
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