Dealing with introverts

Managing Introverts: 11 Do’s and Don’ts

Have you ever been tasked with managing introverts in the workplace?

As a business leader, you’ll undoubtedly encounter diverse personality types and working styles among your team members.

People typically fall into one of two camps: People who are more outgoing (extroverts) and people who are more reserved (introverts).

Regardless of whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, managing introverts can involve certain challenges:

  • How do you help someone to stand out who may be naturally resistant to the limelight?
  • How can you effectively coach introverted employees so that they expand their skill set and work contributions, gain more attention and have a stronger likelihood of being promoted or recognized professionally through some other means?
  • How can you create a work environment that inspires them to give their best each day?

So what is an introvert exactly?

What defines extroversion versus introversion could easily consume an entire book.

Within each term, there are different types of sub-personalities and a spectrum on which individuals reside. Comprehensive psychological assessments are dedicated to uncovering a tendency for extroversion or introversion, and the ideal job descriptions and working conditions for each unique person.

However, for the purposes of clarity and simplicity in this medium, when we reference introvert here we refer to the broad characteristics that society commonly attributes to these individuals:

  • Systematic and structured
  • Analytical
  • Logical
  • Cautious (they don’t usually feel comfortable going by their gut; instead, they want to verify first)
  • Preference for planning ahead
  • Thrive in being alone and working independently, because they gain energy from quiet reflection

Despite the popular perception, introversion isn’t about being quiet and shy. It’s more about how a person approaches people and tasks. Although they’re more reserved in their approach, introverts are equally creative, passionate, energetic and articulate as extroverts.

Why introverts make great employees and leaders

Introverts can be valuable assets to their companies. Many occupy leadership positions at companies around the world.

A list of qualities associated with introverts that explain why they make great employees and leaders:

  • They tend to be good listeners.
  • They excel at thinking critically and usually think carefully before acting.
  • They’re often less emotional, especially in stressful or challenging situations.
  • They tend to explore problems from many angles and are able to get to the bottom line of an issue.
  • They’re conscientious about their work in that they take time to ask the right questions – and it could involve an extensive line of questioning – to ensure they fully understand their tasks.
  • They emphasize quality and accuracy in their work – they want to get it right.
  • They set very high standards for themselves.
  • They’re more compliant with following rules and procedures.
  • They usually have superior written communication skills.
  • They’re typically detail oriented.

Qualities that can hold introverts back in the business world

On the other hand, with these positive qualities come some less favorable tendencies that can hinder introverts from gaining notice for their contributions or advancing to leadership positions.

These qualities are the reason why managers sometimes need to coach their introverted team members:

  • They can appear hesitant to share opinions and ideas with others.
  • They can seem paralyzed by over-analysis, fear of mistakes or the quest for perfection.
  • Their need to verify can result in them coming off as distrustful.
  • They can be slow to give approval or make a decision.
  • They can be more rigid in adhering to rules when occasionally some flexibility is necessary.
  • They can micromanage or be overly critical of fellow team members.
  • They can be resistant to face-to-face communication, instead relying on less personal forms of communication such as on text, email or social media – even when that method may not be optimal for a particular situation.
  • Their preference for working alone is at odds with the team-based, collaborative approach that many employers favor. It can also prevent them from making valuable professional connections or enjoying opportunities to gain attention when needed.

Do’s and don’ts of managing introverts

Do: Become savvy at recognizing introversion.

True, you’re probably not a professional psychologist who’s qualified to diagnose personality types. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t pick up on key indicators that someone likely leans toward introversion:

  • This type of employee won’t be the first one to speak up. Instead, they’ll listen more than talk. But when they do speak, they’ll ask questions intended for clarification and avoid long, verbose comments.
  • They pay attention to details.
  • They don’t reveal much emotion.
  • They’re more methodical and structured in how they like to complete tasks.
  • They don’t need a lot of interaction with people. They want to be able to ask their questions and understand their task, and then focus on their task alone.

Do: Understand why it’s important to support the introverts on your team – and what’s at stake if you don’t.

The essence of good servant leadership is to try to meet the needs of the people under you.

It’s critical to help people achieve their goals by understanding their perspectives and what they’re trying to accomplish. You want your employees to feel valued and supported for who they are and what they can offer your company.

People who don’t feel valued and supported:

  • Become unhappy
  • Make mistakes
  • Don’t produce good work
  • Bring negative energy to their team
  • Leave sooner or later

None of this is good for your company.

Do: Leverage your employees’ natural tendencies.
  1. Do your introverted employees feel more comfortable asking a lot of questions upfront?
  2. Do they like to take time to ponder before giving you their opinion?
  3. Do they need extra time to research before discussing an issue at a meeting?
  4. Do they have a favored process for completing certain tasks?

Let them do what they do best. Allow them to work how they feel comfortable.

Understand the motive behind their actions, which is usually that they just want to do a good job. So give them what they need to succeed.

Ultimately, it means a better work product for you.

Do: Create an environment in which everyone feels comfortable speaking up and sharing, and in which all communication styles are respected.

Managers must set the expectation from the outset that everyone on the team knows it’s OK to be themselves.

Each person should understand that they bring a unique style for thinking and sharing. That is, after all, the power of a team.

In meetings or other group settings, some people will talk more and some will talk less. The people who talk more can annoy those who talk less, and the people who talk more may wonder why others aren’t talking as much.

You should uproot the idea that people who do things differently are wrong or inferior. An environment of trust and mutual respect is critical.

Introverts may try to stay quiet in a meeting. Left to their own devices, they may not say anything at all.

However, it’s important that you draw them out and encourage them to voice their thoughts. Your team can benefit from their perspective and better understand who they are.

And speaking up more can help introverts gain respect among colleagues and be seen as more valuable to the company.

Tips for encouraging introverts to speak up:
  1. Share topics of discussion in advance so they can come to a meeting prepared and not feel put on the spot.
  2. Tell them it’s OK to take time to think about an issue or a question.
  3. Ask them directly what they think once others have shared their ideas.
  4. Strongly discourage negative feedback from other team members. It’s one thing to objectively explain why an idea may not work, and it’s another to allow teasing, sarcasm or personal critiques. There should be no overt inhibitors that prevent people from wanting to contribute.

Do: Tailor your communication for introverts, and encourage your extroverted team members to do the same.

Tips for communicating with introverts:

  1. Don’t disturb them in the middle of a task unless necessary.
  2. Provide time for them to gather their thoughts and process the information you’ve delivered.
  3. Offer thorough answers to their questions and detailed explanations for tasks.
  4. Choose your words carefully when making corrections. Be tactful.
  5. Be specific in your praise and in your critiques (without being overly flattering).
  6. Don’t react negatively to a controlled, less emotional response.
  7. Honor their need for privacy and dignity.
  8. Allow them space to recharge without interruption after a conversation.
  9. Demonstrate acceptance and tolerance.

Do: Encourage training to expand specific skills.

We all have skills we need to master to achieve personal and professional growth.

For introverts, good training opportunities could focus on:

  • Learning about different personalities and working styles (for example, how to work well with extroverts)
  • Public speaking and how to give engaging presentations
  • Networking effectively

Do: Help introverts establish and reach reasonable goals and standards.

With their focus on perfectionism, accuracy and quality, introverts can be incredibly hard on themselves. This is a good thing – to a certain extent. People should take pride in their work.

But when it causes “analysis paralysis” or leads to frustration, discouragement and burnout, you have a problem.

How to avoid this:

  • Help your team members set realistic and achievable performance goals.
  • Guide them in adjusting standards for themselves. Clearly stating your expectations can help them determine if their standards are in alignment with yours – or if they’re going overboard.
  • Explain to them which tasks deserve more attention.

Don’t: Lose your patience.

It’s a fact of doing business:

We must work with people who are different from us.

Whether we’re polar opposites from our colleagues or a bit too much alike, it’s not uncommon for managers and direct reports to butt heads or become annoyed with how the other works.

However, always keep this in mind: People aren’t doing things against you ; they are usually doing things for themselves. We do what we need to do to cope within an environment.

As a manager, helping your employees do their job well – and meeting their needs so they can accomplish their goals – should be meaningful to you if it’s meaningful for them.

  • Slow down and be patient.
  • Answer questions.
  • Clarify instructions.
  • Make it clear that they’re worth your time.

Don’t: Think you can change an introvert’s personality or conform them to your individual working style.

Training is the act of developing a specific skill while leveraging one’s natural talents. It should never be confused with trying to change who someone is at their core.

You can’t.

Trying to do so will only undermine your employee’s confidence, foster resentment and cause unnecessary stress.

Don’t: Push an introvert into the limelight if it’s undesired and unnecessary.

Unsurprisingly, many introverts don’t want to be under the spotlight.

Heaping attention on them can embarrass them and make them uncomfortable. They could be perfectly content operating behind the scenes, and you should respect that.

Unless being the center of attention is directly related to their job function or professional status – for example, being featured in a publication or speaking at a conference – then don’t force it.

When it comes to day-to-day recognition of a job well done, be creative and more subtle in how you honor introverts. Peer recognition is a great, more personal and quiet way of passing on the kudos.

Don’t: Fail to meet the standards you set for others.

Introverts have high expectations of themselves and others – including you as a leader. If your team second-guesses your capabilities as a leader, it can undermine morale, promote disengagement and cause people to leave.

  • Hold true to your standards, as well as the rules and procedures you’ve set.
  • Keep the promises you’ve made.
  • Be excellent at what you do.

Summing it all up

Introverts have many outstanding qualities that their managers can leverage and develop to their companies’ benefit.

While managing introverts, your responsibility is to help develop their natural skills and boost their comfort and confidence level in the workplace — so that they can achieve the credit, respect and career advancement they’ve earned.

In the process, you can help the various personalities on your team to collaborate more harmoniously and effectively, enhance the quality of work and improve employee retention.

For more information on how to better support, develop and motivate your team, download our free magazine: The Insperity guide to leadership and management.

Understanding Introverts | Psychology Today

Source: iStock

Understanding other people isn’t easy, because we view the world through our own filters and assume that if we do something a certain way, then it must be good for everybody, right? Let’s look specifically at the difference between extroverts and introverts.

And let’s be honest—America favors its extroverts: The teacher who says, “Little Johnny never speaks up in class, he is so disengaged.” The boss who says, “Why are you so quiet in meetings—you never have anything to add.” Or the spouse who says, “You don’t talk to me about your day. I don’t think you love me.” It’s especially hard in the business world and in educational institutions, where there is an unspoken (and often spoken) preference to reward extroverts over introverts. In the society that celebrates “people’s people,” “great communicators” and “go-getters,” the quiet types frequently get marginalized and misunderstood.

The evidence is not hard to find. Both at home and in schools, we encourage our children to speak up and be more assertive. In college and at work there is a great premium on networking and putting yourself out there. During social events, people are expected to make small talk with strangers, stick to upbeat topics and get to know loads of new people. If you are a natural extrovert, you might thrive in these settings, but for the introverts, they might be too much to handle. In fact, many introverts often feel that they don’t fit into the mainstream crowd and wonder if there is something wrong with them altogether. Extroverts actually derive their energy from interaction with others—the more interaction, the more upbeat and energetic they are! But introverts are drained from too much interaction. The introverted spouse who says “I just want some quiet time” might have had too many meetings and staff interactions that day and just needs to decompress.

Why does society speak so negatively of the introvert? There is strength in numbers and consider that a third to a half of the American population is introverted. And no, introverts are not failed extroverts. They are just people who must live in a society that is unfortunately biased against them. In many Scandinavian and Asian countries introversion is actually a highly desired and valued quality, whereas in our Western culture the opposite holds true.

In her best-selling book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain, a former Wall Street lawyer, explores the origins and scope of the cultural prejudice towards introverts in America. The author maintains that the cultural bias in the U.S. is so strong that many people view introversion as a pathology, as opposed to a normal manifestation of temperament or personality variation. She asserts that beginning as early as the first few years of school, introverted children learn that their type of personality is not desired in social settings, and only those who join group activities, actively participate in class, etc. get noticed and rewarded.

Additionally, Cain presents evidence gleaned from different studies that support her claim that many companies in the U. S. are looking to hire extroverts, assuming that they are better suited for the positions of leadership.

Having to constantly compare themselves to these standards, many introverts eventually become anxious about the fact that they don’t “measure up” to their extroverted peers. This notion can be especially hard for children and teenagers, since the desire to be acknowledged as a part of the group or equal among their fellow students often creates additional pressure that may worsen their existing insecurities.

It really doesn’t matter how many times you tell an introverted person to become more extroverted—it will not happen. It’s not that introverts don’t want to change; they simply can’t. Extroverts and introverts are essentially two different species, and you cannot just stop being one and become the other. Studies have shown that the difference between the two lies on a deeper genetic level, and manifests itself in early childhood through different neurological responses to external stimuli. That’s all there is to it. There is no one dominant or inherently superior personality type, as many erroneously have come to believe.

Our bias against introverts is particularly widespread online. Advice on how to be more extroverted, how to become more sociable, how to promote your introversion as a “positive” trait is abundant and extremely one-sided. Everyone is eager to help introverts, to teach them how to become a part of modern American culture. But how come only one side needs to change and learn to adapt? Why aren’t we helping extroverts to understand and accept that others have a different approach and different set of needs? Why is one considered “good” and one “bad”—isn’t there strength in both? The introvert sits in the meeting and watches everything that is going on. They don’t need to dive in and talk, so they pay more attention to what’s going on. As such, introverts may be more watchful and learn more with their observation skills.

In order to truly understand one another, we need to stop trying to change each other, which is one of our more common pastimes! If you are an extrovert and admit you prefer those gregarious, boisterous and overtly friendly people, don’t miss out on understanding the introvert next to you. We like others who are like us, but we can learn to like others (and learn from them) when they are different, too. As a start:

  1. Refrain from applying labels. Labeling an introverted person as anti-social or disengaged is not helpful. When we label someone we limit them. Introverts don’t necessarily dislike other people, they just prefer smaller crowds, familiar faces and shorter interaction times. And they need more alone downtime to reenergize after a lot of people interaction, so don’t expect them to be upbeat when they are feeling drained.
  2. Don’t take it personally. Introverts don’t need to talk about everything, and they may not understand that others need to verbalize constantly. They are perfectly content to sit in the meeting and listen, but they may grow weary of constant chatter. Just because they don’t keep up with the verbalizing does not mean they don’t care or they are not interested.
  3. Listen. If you think that introverts don’t like to talk or don’t have strong opinions, you couldn’t be more wrong. When it comes to the topics that interest them, introverts can be very talkative and passionate. They may speak more slowly or be more thoughtful in their delivery, so give them a chance to share their viewpoint and listen to it.
  4. Be considerate. The energy of introverts is literally being sucked out of them when there is constant and intense engagement and discussion. Such settings may drain them to the point where introverts might actually feel physically sick. So, if your introverted friend or colleague is reluctant to go out or join the group activities, don’t push them; they may need their downtime and know that it is important to them at that moment. The definition of “fun” is not the same for everyone.
  5. Don’t try to fix what is not broken. We don’t expect extroverts to be more introverted, so we should stop trying to convince introverts to be more extroverted. Reticence to dive in and be the life of the party is not a defect of character; it’s actually a rather beneficial trait that allows for greater concentration and sharper observation skills, and there are leadership qualities here just as there are for the people who enjoy the limelight and the speaking platform.

How to properly communicate with introverts - GBPOU RS (Y) "Vilyui Vocational Pedagogical College named after N. G. Chernyshevsky"

Very often letters come with a variety of questions relating to relationships between people. And one of the main general recommendations of our psychologists at a psychological consultation is a frank conversation.

But what if the conversation does not come out? If you need to talk and in response - silence, if your interlocutor does not want to talk? And constantly! You can seek more detailed advice for psychological counseling, or just read this article.

There is a special type of people. A sort of chronic silent. Scientific language - introverts.

A typical introvert is a calm, shy, even reserved person. The personal qualities of an introvert are interpreted in different ways, but one thing unites them - these people do not like and do not know how to talk, in any case, to talk in the way that relatives require them to.

But a silent person - an introvert - is not a diagnosis! Given some features, you can discover the secret - how to communicate with an introvert?

It is important to understand that you are very different, you think differently. The same thing can have completely different meanings for you and for the “silent person”. Their personal space should not be invaded unexpectedly. Probably, the main difficulties for these people arise precisely in order to quickly find an answer, therefore, in a conversation with them, one cannot demand an immediate reaction. What for you is a way to reduce stress, let off steam, for them, on the contrary, it may be very difficult. After a short, serious conversation, such people may feel exhausted. Your perception is different, and you need to ask if you understand what is said correctly. But very carefully - if you are suspected of being unable to understand - write wasted. Better yet, consult with a psychologist first.

Often, people who are reserved and uncommunicative simply take longer to establish trust. To begin with, it is especially important to give them the opportunity to talk - no matter what, about something that is interesting and important to them. Do not interrupt, do not react emotionally (it's scary). Active listening means giving occasional signals that you are listening and asking questions to allow the story to continue. It will have to be expressed clearly and specifically, very clearly. In order not to confuse. And don't get confused.

A common feature of introverts is the secrecy that so often offends loved ones. In this case, it is important to understand that you are not being deceived, you are simply not being told the truth. The same sometimes introverts can lie. But it's more of a childish method of ripping pages out of a diary and forging grades to avoid a serious conversation.

It is interesting that there is a completely physiological reason for such behavior - some people have a constantly high level of electrical activity of the brain, therefore, a higher excitation of the cortex than extroverts, which is why they learn from early childhood to limit their communication in order to avoid the extreme point arousal level. A great way to transfer part of the communication into writing is really easier.

Also, such people may have a strong fear that if they “take off the mask” and start talking, they will become more vulnerable and manageable, such fears should be dealt with in consultations with a psychologist, and not left to chance. If you have problems communicating with a closed person, it is better to contact a psychologist for advice so as not to make mistakes.

Reclusion is not always an innate feature, often it is the consequences of a mental trauma, and in this case it is necessary to be even more careful, even more patient. The best solution to the problem of isolation is psychological counseling. You can ask a psychologist a question and get a recommendation on how to communicate with an introvert in more detail. An introvert is not a sentence! An introvert can be an excellent scientist, researcher, observer, writer, or self-employed person. And also a faithful and loving spouse, a talented specialist. If you find in yourself the features of an introvert, and this bothers you, do not despair, you can very effectively learn to live in harmony with yourself using psychological methods. Life is a dialogue!

How to communicate with an introvert? | Psychology

It is important to understand that introverts and extroverts are very different from each other: they think differently, look at the situation differently, after all, one can even say that an introvert lives (unlike an extrovert) in two worlds. One is the real world, the other is the world of his thoughts. Accordingly, these two personality types "speak different languages." The same word or phrase can have different meanings for them. So I want to turn to the question of how to understand the "language of the introvert"?

Extroverts often fail to realize that an introvert should not be invaded unexpectedly. With such an act, you will push him away from you, because you will violate his routine, personal space, and drive him out of his thoughts. It is better to make an appointment in advance so that the introvert can mentally prepare for it, think over the details that are important to him.

Introverts have trouble finding answers quickly, so you can't demand an immediate response when talking to them. If an introvert does not answer, this does not mean that he does not want to talk to you or is trying to hide something from you, understand that your interlocutor needs time to formulate a response. Take a break, don't rush. Photo: runzelkorn,

An introvert spends a lot of energy talking to people, don't interrupt him. Firstly, an introvert is a vulnerable person, he reacts sharply to inattention and may not repeat what has already been said to him in order to protect himself from the next portion of “disorders”. Secondly, if an introvert still decides to "repeat", then he will need additional energy for this. And the final waste of energy is fraught with the fact that he will simply shut up, even if he wants to continue the conversation.

An introvert is in awe of what he says, he puts his soul into it, therefore, in order not to offend him, to show that his words are just as important to you, repeat what you heard.

Since your perception is different from that of an introvert, one might ask if you have understood it correctly. The main thing here is to present your question as an interest in the interlocutor. At this point it is worth paying attention, as an introvert may regard the questions as your inability to understand him.

After listening to the other person, share your opinion. Think carefully about what you will say. After all, we remember that an introvert is vulnerable. Outwardly, he will be calm and restrained, but this does not mean at all that he will also be balanced internally. Your words may cause him a storm of emotions, but he will not let himself show it. He will simply remember what you said, and even more sharply, in his memory, he will imprint the feelings that were associated with it. Photo: Depositphotos

Your partner will not always be ready to take the first step, push him "to the revelation", so that he can pour out his soul to you, give him the go-ahead for this, because he wants to know that you are interested in him and his opinion. Start by asking how his day went, give him a chance to talk, find out something else. Whatever you ask (within reason), he will appreciate your interest.

The physiological reason for the behavior of introverts lies in the fact that they have a constantly high level of electrical activity of the brain, therefore, a higher excitation of the cortex than extroverts.

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