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Being an introvert in an extrovert-dominated workplace can be difficult. You might feel pressure to live up to everyone else’s level of social interaction. Perhaps the open floor plan in your office makes it difficult for you to be productive. Maybe working with your extroverted boss sometimes feels tedious and exhausting.
Make being an introvert work for you
There are many difficulties introverts potentially face at work. Luckily, there are a few tips and strategies you can employ to make sure that your managers and co-workers recognize the strengths of introverts rather than pushing for everyone to be extroverted. Let’s take a look at some advice for introverts in the workplace.
Use body language
Using your body language to convey confidence is a great way to make a presence for yourself in the office. Do you ever find yourself at your desk with your shoulders hunched over and head down, purposely avoiding people as they walk by?
Good posture and eye contact can go a long way in letting others know that you are friendly, collaborative, and have valuable ideas and insight, even though your voice likely isn’t the loudest in the room.
When you’re in meetings, show that you’re an active and engaged listener by sitting up straight in your chair and looking at the person who’s talking.
Don’t look down at your lap the whole time or sit by yourself off in a corner.
These things may seem small, but they can make a big difference in how you’re perceived in the office.
Practice makes perfect
Speaking up in group situations is often a cause of anxiety for many introverts in the workplace. Generally, one of two things happens when an introvert speaks up. In some situations, you speak so infrequently that when you do speak, people listen. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes, quietness is seen as weakness, and you get interrupted or ignored.
If you need to conquer your public-speaking nerves, try practicing what you want to say ahead of time so when the time comes, you can deliver your words with authority and confidence. It’s harder to interrupt or ignore someone who speaks with authority and without stammering or stumbling over their words.
Since many introverts know it’s easy to do those things when you’re nervous, practicing ahead of time can be a lifesaver (or job saver) when it comes to public speaking.
If you, like many introverts, tend to be reserved in person, it might feel more comfortable to participate more fully in online spaces like office chats or email threads than big group meetings or casual office chat in the break rooms. Sometimes, the latter can contribute to workplace anxiety for more introverted employees, leading them to feel unnecessary amounts of stress.
If your office doesn’t yet have any online communication platforms other than email, consider asking your boss or manager to implement one and tell them why it would benefit you and others who share a similar working style.
Even if it’s just a few minutes in the break room while you’re waiting for the coffee to brew, interacting with your team will improve your overall well-being both at work and at home.
Let people know
One tactic that often gets overlooked for thriving at work as an introvert is letting your managers and co-workers know how you work and why you prefer to work that way. They’ll likely respect you for speaking up and do their best to accommodate any requests you might make about your workspace in the future.
This could be a topic you cover in the hiring process if you’re thinking of starting a new job. Tell the recruiter that you’re introverted, explain the strengths you bring, and ask how the company habits and culture could fit with your work and communication styles. This way, you’ll know right off the bat if the company will be a good fit or if you need to keep looking for a different situation.
Play to your strengths
Introverts bring unique strengths to any workplace — so use those to your advantage! Introverted workers tend to be thoughtful, observant, detail-oriented, good listeners, and hyper-focused.
Make sure your managers are aware of your strengths and display that you utilize them. This will likely make you happier at work while simultaneously making you a more valuable team member.
A balance of introverted and extroverted workers is necessary to any effective workplace. Each brings different strengths to the table, and each is valuable to both company culture and productivity.
By using body language, practicing public speaking, taking advantage of alternative forms of communication, being social, letting people know about your needs, and playing to your strengths, introverts can thrive in any workspace.
A version of this article was originally published on Introvert Whisperer.