It’s a bummer when introverts are overlooked at work due to our soft-spoken nature. Here are some easy tips to help us shine.
I love my introverted nature. In a world rampant with noise and frivolous connections, I take pride in my ability to slow down, listen well and form relationships that matter. However, when I first entered the workforce, I felt demoralised when I discovered it’s a place that favours extroversion. That’s not a bad thing, as extroverted colleagues bring the energy and excitement needed to get through the mundane work day. But ask any soft-spoken individual, and they can probably relay a time they felt overlooked for not being as loud and proud as their excitable counterparts. If you’re wondering how to succeed at work, here’s some career advice from a fellow introvert to help you out.
Career advice for introverts on how to succeed at work
1. Block out time to recharge
Of course, there are many different degrees of introversion. Some individuals are quieter, some of us have no problem speaking out, and some are in between. But what do we have in common? Being in hectic environments or around people for prolonged periods of time can drain us out quickly. And if we’re not careful, it can affect our performance at work.
If you’re in the office, make it a point to set aside alone time for yourself. Especially after countless in-person meetings and discussions. At best, block out one or two hours on your daily calendar to finish work without distraction in a quiet area of the office. Or, if you’re short on time, pop out for 10 to 15 minutes for a walk or a coffee break. It’s a great way to recharge and get back to peak performance quickly.
2. Rehearse. Rehearse. Rehearse.
Introverts aren’t necessarily shy. I know a fair few who can talk their heads off and charm a room if they need to. But we do prefer a heads up before being thrown into the spotlight at events, meetings or presentations. This is because we process information at a slightly slower speed, and prefer to mull things over thoughtfully – according to a study on motor behaviour back in 2008.
To avoid being caught like a deer in headlights, it’s always a good idea to prepare in advance. Read through the meeting agenda, add in any achievements or important points you want to highlight, and run through how you can convey them effectively. We don’t like talking too much, but that’s okay because it matters more how you say things than how much you say.
3. Learn the art of small talk
If you need to entertain guests, network or mingle at events, the dreaded small talk is key to carving out good relationships. Plus, your bosses will have greater trust in you when they see you can handle important clients on your own.
I was never great at keeping conversations flowing with strangers, but I found that having a fixed set of questions on hand always kept me prepared. Have a handy list in the notes section of your phone and read through them before a social event. Questions like “How did you spend your weekend?”, “What movies did you watch recently?” or “Where are you travelling to next?” will keep you and your guests occupied.
4. Be best buds with your manager
No, I’m not talking about sucking up to your manager (ew). As introverts, we value meaningful connections and we’re good at building them. So use your strengths to your benefit and create a strong relationship with your manager – it’s always good to have someone in the company who has your back.
To start off, ask if you can lock in weekly or bi-weekly check-ins with them to talk about how you’re faring at work. This can include chatting about your weekly achievements, tasks you might be struggling with, or stuff you want to work on. We’re not as smooth at making sure our hard work is seen and acknowledged the way extroverts are. So, having this connection ensures your manager has consistent visibility of your efforts. It’s also a great way to get some one-on-one mentorship in areas you feel you’re lacking.
5. Don’t sit on your achievements
I know first-hand how difficult it can be to talk about your achievements at work. It doesn’t come naturally to most of us. But it’s important not to undersell yourself – especially when you’re putting in as much effort as everyone else. A trick I learnt? When it isn’t easy to say something out loud, type it out in a text or email instead.
Most organisations have a group chat for teammates to talk about anything from work to lunch arrangements to fun activities people enjoy. Utilise that channel to share your wins – whether that’s handling a successful project or receiving great feedback from a client.
If you end up sitting on your achievements, you may be in for a shock when your annual review rolls around and nobody in upper management knows what you’ve done. It might feel scary, but go get that recognition you deserve.
Stick to our career advice and we’re confident you’ll be a great asset in the workplace (whether you’re an introvert or not)!