Introverts add a different sort of value
Before jumping to any conclusions about introverts, it is important to make a couple of points:
1) The difference between introverts and extroverts are the very different ways their brains process information and recharge their energy banks.
2) Being shy and being introverted are two very different things. However strange it sounds, there are outgoing introverts in the same way as there are quiet extroverts.
3) Introverts can be found working in any part of an organisation – not just the technical departments.
The western business world is focussed on extroverts and so introverts tend to go unheard despite the fact that these “quiet people have the loudest minds” (Stephen Hawking) and are vital to the success of any organisation:
- Their abilities to listen intensively and analyse information mean they can spot trends, understand the implications and so act as an early warning system for potential risks.
- They are deep thinkers. Given a quiet space, they will work intensively for long periods in order to get to the bottom of issues and will come up with the most creative, workable solutions to problems.
- They are generally very effective leaders of creative, energetic work groups as they provide a stable, knowledgeable sounding board that will keep things moving in the right direction.
- They are natural mediators who will steer towards compromise and consensus and away from conflict.
- In the Far East, introverts are usually found at the top levels of an organisation because it is these characteristics that are valued most highly. In the West, it is usually extroverts that occupy these positions.
The 18 months of the Covid-19 pandemic, when most of the business world was working from home, has allowed introverts to do some of their best work. Freedom from interruptions and energy draining social interactions has meant that introverts have been able to maintain their energy levels and think deeply about some of the toughest issues facing their organisations. The benefits of this way of working for introverts – and the disadvantages for extroverts – are being recognised, as organisations get back to working at full speed and start to develop new working practices to suit the new reality of the business world
- Take time to work out who the introverts are in your team.
- Introverts need time alone to recharge their batteries and work best in quiet spaces. If you have an open-plan workspace, this will mean that your deep-thinkers will lose focus. But make sure that they don’t become isolated as they withdraw from group situations that drain their energy.
- Give introverts the time and space to process / evaluate / reflect on information before insisting on a response. Giving them advance notice that you would like their input at the next group meeting will mean that they will come prepared with good ideas. In discussions, their thinking time means that introverts’ input often gets overlooked as the discussion moves on before they have had time to formulate it. This is especially true in virtual meetings when the non-verbal signals that show they are still thinking is more difficult to pick up. Make sure you check in with them regularly in these situations – “Anything to add, Fred?”
- If possible, consider giving introverts solo projects that needs deep-thinking rather than group tasks that require fast-thinking. However, keep an eye on the progress of solo projects – introverts can easily get lost in the joy of detail
- Introverts prefer to formulate their ideas and communicate in writing rather than through discussion and speaking – allow and value each equally.
- Extroverts can mistake the quiet, slow, deep-thinking, process-orientation of introverts as attempts to sabotage their drive to make progress, reach goals and get rewards. Be aware of what is going on and mediate if necessary.
Susan Cain, Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that won’t stop talking. 2013
Sylvia Loehken, The Power of Personality: How introverts and extroverts can combine to amazing effect. 2016
Autor: Sheila Purdy
Sheila ist „the international mind“ im Team. Geborene Engländerin, war sie auf der ganzen Welt unterwegs, bevor sie sich dem Thema Coaching zugewandt hat. Sie unterstützt unsere Kunden bei Themen wie Präsentation, Verhandlungsführung, interkulturelle Kommunikation – und all das auf sehr lebendige Weise. Eine ihrer großen Stärken ist ihre Einfühlsamkeit, mit der sie Menschen in ihrer persönlichen Weiterentwicklung unterstützt.