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Surviving Introversion at Work

Jordan Mayfield, LMSW, LACValeo Outpatient Psychotherapy Services

The concept of identifying as an introvert has received a great deal of public attention and curiosity in the last few years. And yet, for those of us who identify as introverts can continue to feel like the “odd man out,” particularly at work where there is such a wide array of personality types. This article will review the benefits of having introverts in the workplace, how to know if you are an introvert, and how introverts can cope in an increasingly over-connected world.

Introverts are not a liability to a work environment. In fact, introverts enhance it. Here are just a few things that introverts bring to the workplace:

  • Flexibility
  • Independence
  • Creativity
  • Intelligence
  • Self-reflection

Some common traits to identify introversion are:

  • You find small talk extremely uncomfortable or boring
  • You would prefer to communicate via e-mail or text versus a phone call
  • You notice nuances and details that others seem to miss
  • You can be completely content being alone; and often feel lonely in a crowd
  • You do not enjoy being the center of attention
  • You communicate best one-on-one rather than in groups of people
  • You are very passionate about the things that interest you

According to Susan Cain, introversion researcher the most succinct definition of an introvert is someone who “recharges their batteries” alone versus an extrovert who refuels around other people. An introvert who works in a high-paced and/or highly populated work environment may feel physically and emotionally drained by the end of the day. And if their introversion IQ is low, they might not take the necessary steps for self-care. This could over a period of time lead to a variety of complications both mental and physical.

In our fast paced, outcome driven society, introverts can find it extremely difficult to function to their full potential without adequate understanding of how, and why they react to social interactions the way they do.

So how can introverts still shine with these types of expectations?

  • Reduce exposure to unnecessary stimuli in the workplace (i.e. lower your office lights, play soothing music, or wear noise cancelling head phones if possible).
  • Allow yourself to take lunch alone if you want to. Don’t feel pressured to meet up every lunch hour with your co-workers. Allow yourself time to recharge and rebalance.
  • Focus on your strengths. Research has continuously show that introverts are excellent listeners, researchers, and problem-solvers. Introverts are less likely to act on impulse and tend to be able to weigh pros and cons of decisions more thoroughly than their extrovert counterparts.

Being an introvert at work can be a very difficult thing at times. Research suggests that introverts benefit strongly from normalizing their experience and embracing who they really are. And remember, there is nothing wrong with you. Some famous introverts that have vastly improved and advanced our world include Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Bill Gates and Rosa Parks. So don’t worry, you’re in good company.



Jordan Mayfield, LMSW, LAC Valeo Outpatient Psychotherapy Services



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