Introverts often respond to the world differently than their extroverted counterparts. That applies to everything from how they behave in their relationships to how they function at work.
One fundamental difference between the two temperaments comes down to how someone gains energy: Introverts recharge their personal batteries by spending time alone or in quieter, low-key environments, whereas extroverts are energized by the company of other people or in more stimulating environments.
It’s worth noting that introversion and extroversion are personality traits that exist along a spectrum. Many people fall somewhere between the two depending on the day or setting — no one is strictly one or the other.
In the workplace, people with introverted tendencies may prefer communicating in writing rather than verbally. They’d rather have an office or cubicle to themselves than work in an open floor plan. And if they have to speak in a team meeting, they generally need time to prepare beforehand — so please don’t pressure them to deliver off-the-cuff remarks.
And while “innies,” as they’re sometimes called, make up anywhere from one-third to one-half of the population, managerial roles tend to be dominated by extroverts — even though many introverts possess qualities that make them strong leaders.
We asked self-identified introverts in the HuffPost community to tell us what they wish their bosses understood about their personality or the way they work. Here’s what they told us:
1. Back-to-back meetings are draining for me.
“Whether having an in-person or virtual meeting, I need time to decompress afterwards. Having meetings scheduled back to back is the worst!” — Alicia G.
2. Don’t take it personally if I don’t want to go to happy hour.
“I am perfectly sociable at work, but please don’t ask me to do after-hours things with work people too often. I need downtime to regain my energy for the next day. Quarterly is fine. Bi-weekly is exhausting.” — Lauren T.
3. I can get way more done if I have my own workspace.
“Working in an open environment is the perfect way to assure I’m not productive or comfortable in my job. Every interruption means great effort and time to regroup. Then I get grumpy because of deadlines.” — A.C.
4. I really thrive when I’m working from home.
“My company started having us work from home in mid-March. It has remained so since then, and I’ve never been happier or more productive in my life. Don’t get me wrong: I really like a lot of my co-workers, but the pressure of having to be ‘on’ — convivial, chatty, and perky five days a week — has disappeared. I can still talk with those folks over our company chat when I have things to say, but I no longer have to deal with nonstop casual talk.
“Just because I don’t always speak up during large staff meetings doesn’t mean I don’t have great ideas.”
I want to keep working like this forever. I will get the COVID vaccine as soon as I qualify for it; I’m older and diabetic, so I am more susceptible to the virus than others. But when we’re all vaccinated and they want to go back to the office, that’s going to be very hard for me.” — Jennifer L.
5. I can’t shine when you put me on the spot. I need time to prepare.
“In a one-on-one with my boss, I said I was interested in expanding [my] leadership roles. That evening he asked me to lead a program with no time to review the material, to plan or to process. The idea of this gave me intense anxiety. After saying I would be happy to do so at a future date with more notice, I found out this was a test. I failed and was never offered a leadership position again. As an introvert, I know I have the ability to excel in leadership positions, but not when I’m blindsided.” — Victoria P.
6. Ice breaker games are a nightmare for me.
“Ice breaker activities cause me panic and stress. I think they are supposed to be fun but I find them dreadful.” — Jessica R.
7. I need you to moderate meetings so us introverts don’t get lost in the shuffle.
“Just because an idea is expressed loudly and boisterously doesn’t make it a better one. When we introverts speak, listen! Even more, be mindful of those people who dominate meetings and intimidate others with their volume and bravado. Be a good moderator and rein those people in. Please!” — Lara B.
8. Sometimes I need to skip the small talk to conserve my energy.
“When I don’t stop in the hall and chit chat with every employee in the school, I’m not being unfriendly. I’m trying to focus my energy on the teaching job I was hired for.” — Shannon S.
9. I do my best work solo, one-on-one or in a small group.
“It’s where we feel most comfortable and where we can let our guards down.”— Maria J.
10. Getting acknowledged for my hard work is great — just not when you do it in front of the whole company.
“While I really appreciate recognition, I would far prefer a note or an email directly to me, rather than an announcement in front of everyone at a work meeting.” — Katie K.
11. It takes me some time to shift from one task to another.
“If I’m in the middle of doing something and my boss or anyone jumps in and asks me a question, my inability to answer immediately doesn’t mean I don’t know the answer or that I’m incompetent. It just takes longer for my brain to switch gears.” — Tiffany B.
12. I have good ideas, but it’s hard for me to share them in team brainstorms.
“Don’t underestimate me! Just because I don’t always speak up during large staff meetings doesn’t mean I don’t have great ideas. Providing multiple avenues to submit input gives me time to develop my thoughts and comfortable spaces to share them.” — Alicia G.
13. I generally prefer an email to a phone call.
“Please don’t call me when a text or email will suffice. I will have a more complete, intelligent response to any questions or problems if I don’t have to talk to you.” — Kim T.
14. When you go around the room and ask everyone to share something about themselves, I die a little inside.
“At a meeting, do not expect each person around the table to say how they are doing, what they did over holiday or what they think about the current topic of discussion. I feel the same anxiety as in grade school when the teacher called on students to read aloud one after another up and down the rows.” — Kat T.
15. Just because I’m quiet doesn’t mean I’m disengaged.
“Introverts process internally. It doesn’t mean I don’t have input, it just takes me time to quietly process before answering.” — Marcella E.
16. My strengths may be less obvious but they’re no less valuable.
“My bosses believe that a good teacher is a super outgoing personality. They should be loud and animated to get and sustain the students’ attention. They don’t realize that introverts are more observant and intuitive, which are valuable assets.
“Ice breaker activities cause me panic and stress. I think they are supposed to be fun but I find them dreadful.”
Sometimes to truly know your students, you need these qualities. Plus, not every student will respond well to a loud, animated teacher. An introverted teacher will notice the quiet students and look to connect with them on a level the student is comfortable with.” — Pam F.
17. I need my lunch break to decompress by myself.
“While I appreciate you wanting to show your thanks by buying us food for lunch, I need my hour in the middle of the day to get away and recharge!” — Cheryl K.
18. I might turn down a leadership position — but it doesn’t mean I’m not driven.
“Just because I’m really good in my current position, it doesn’t mean I have the desire to be on the leadership team. Please don’t feel bad when you offer it and I turn it down. And please, please don’t see it as a lack of dedication or ambition. I just really like being in my comfort zone and like what I’m currently doing.” — Emily B.
19. I may not be the biggest personality, but I still want you to notice my contributions.
“I work hard and work long hours, but I am generally overlooked. The extroverts who aren’t as dedicated get more recognition and praise because they demand to be noticed. I wish that my boss understood that a little praise or appreciation would go a long way.” — Carrie H.
Responses have been lightly edited and condensed.
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