Every workplace has extroverts and introverts. While extroverts often get a lot of attention and focus due to their comfort in social settings, introverts in the workplace have a lot to offer as well. There are a lot of benefits of introverts, such as often being hardworking problem solvers who are insightful and empathetic. The best cohesive teams and workplaces utilize what both extroverts and introverts have to offer. 

However, being an introvert at work comes with its own challenges as well. They often need to recharge after social interactions, can seem aloof, and can get drowned out in meetings. It’s important that you create an inclusive culture at work that supports introverts, that way you can build a strong and well-rounded team of extroverts and introverts. 

In this article, we’re going to focus on understanding and supporting introverts in the workplace. We’ll cover what it means to be an introvert, common traits of introverts, the challenges they face in the workplace, their strengths, and how to create an environment that supports and empowers introverts. 

What It Means to Be an Introvert

First, let’s look at what it means to be an introvert and some characteristics of introverts. Being an introvert at work means you get energy or recharge from time alone. Often, people assume that means introverts are shy, don’t have much to say, and don’t like socialization. However, that is not true. 

Being introverted is simply about getting energy from being alone. Introverts still have thoughts and feelings, and they still need social interaction. However, the way they express those emotions is typically different. And the types of social settings they enjoy are different from extroverts as well. 

For example, introverts tend to prefer smaller scale social interactions. Introverts still enjoy going out, spending time with friends, and socializing—but they need it in moderation. Introverts often prefer smaller social settings, like a small party with close friends instead of a large party filled with people they don’t know. An extrovert would love the latter, but an introvert would prefer the former. 

And for a lot of introverts, there’s a limit of sorts. They still might go to that party or get together, but at some point they will be worn out and ready to recharge with some alone time. They still need and want social interaction, but it has to be in moderation or in the ways that they prefer. 

It’s also important to know that for introverted people, being quiet doesn’t mean something is wrong. People often assume that because an introvert is quiet at work, parties, or another social setting, it means that they aren’t enjoying themselves. That is not the case though. 

In general, introverts like to think before they speak. They carefully listen to what’s being said and think about what they have to add. If they don’t have anything to add, they may not speak up. That doesn’t mean they aren’t enjoying the conversation or think something is wrong. For an introvert in the workplace, don’t take silence or a need for alone time as a bad sign. 

introverts in the workplace

The Challenges Faced by Introverts in the Workplace

Now, let’s look at some of the challenges faced by introverts in the workplace. One of the biggest challenges they face is simply the constantly social nature of work. Whether that’s meetings, casual small talk, or working in a group setting, being around people all the time and needing to interact socially can be draining. 

For an extrovert, those things can make them energized and excited. But for introverts, those things can quickly become draining and tiring. Something as small as getting a cup of coffee can be anxiety inducing because they know there’s a chance it will lead to small talk they don’t want to have. Many introverts are constantly struggling to deal with the social nature of work. 

These things can be compounded too depending on the work environment. Open offices for example, which have been popular in recent years, are often difficult for introverts. It can make them feel like there is no safe, quiet space for them to get alone time. 

That’s why it’s important to create a people first culture where you put your employees and their needs first. By creating the right environment and culture at work, you can ease the difficulty of the challenges introverts face and build strong, cohesive, well-rounded teams.   

It’s also important to note that introverts are often judged for being quiet at work. People assume that they aren’t paying attention, aren’t focused, aren’t participating, or aren’t focused on work. Those assumptions aren’t true though. As mentioned earlier, introverts listen carefully and think before they speak. Just because they aren’t talking does not mean they aren’t focused or paying attention. 

Recognizing and Leveraging the Strengths of Introverts

While introverts face many challenges in the workplace, they have their own unique strengths that can be incredibly useful and valuable if you can recognize and leverage them. So let’s take a look at some of those strengths and how you can utilize them. 

Introverts are great at working on their own. Some projects and tasks are best left to one person, and those can be perfect for introverts. Giving them some of the more introverted work can work great because they do well working on their own, and it gives them a chance to have some alone time and recharge. 

At work, introverts tend to be great listeners, problem solvers, and decision makers. Because they listen well and take all information into consideration, they are often great at solving problems and making thoughtful decisions. Introverts can be a valuable asset when it comes to making big decisions that require a lot of thought and consideration. 

And when it comes to team dynamics, introverts can be a great asset as well. They are often very empathetic and aware of others’ emotions/feelings. Because of this and their listening skills, they are very considerate of those around them. They can be great at handling interpersonal issues at work and ensuring that everyone is happy. 

introverts in the workplace

Creating an Introvert Friendly Work Environment

So, what can be done to create a psychologically safe workplace that is introvert friendly? Thankfully, it’s not too difficult if you know how to approach it. Let’s look at a few strategies to create a work environment that helps introverts thrive. 

One of the most impactful and easiest ways to support introverts is by providing quiet spaces at work. If all else fails, introverts at least need somewhere to go, get some peace and quiet, and recharge. Simply giving them a quiet space for focus and reflection can have a big impact. 

Another thing to consider is encouraging diverse communication styles and active listening. Letting people communicate how they feel comfortable can help alleviate some of the stress and anxiety introverts deal with in regards to socialization. And active listening can help people learn more about each other and be more sympathetic to their coworkers. 

Communicating Effectively With Introverts

Tying into the last section, it’s essential that you know how to communicate effectively with introverts. It can be a bit of a change if you’re more of an extrovert, but the basics are pretty simple. 

First off, it’s important that you respect their need for privacy and time to process things. Introverts don’t always want to share every single detail about things, and you shouldn’t push them when they want privacy. 

And introverts like to think carefully about their responses, so don’t rush them to respond either. Give them the time and space they need to respond, whether that’s in person or via an email, text, or other form of communication. 

Another good tip is to provide information in advance. Again, introverts like to think things through in advance and consider all the information, so give them a heads up what the conversation is about, what info they need, etc. 

On top of that, scheduling meetings/discussions in advance in a distraction free location is important too. Scheduling ahead of time gives them time to prepare. And since introverts like to focus their attention on one thing at a time, not having distractions is key too. 

Lastly, actively listening is key too. Introverts want to have someone’s focus, and they want to feel like they are being listened to and understood. Don’t interrupt, and actively listen to what they’re saying. That can go a long way in making introverts more comfortable and more likely to speak up.

Empowering Introverts to Thrive With Team Building

Before we wrap up, there’s one other way you can empower introverts to thrive at work—team building. Really, more socialization? Surprisingly, yes. Team building can help your teams better understand introverts and recognize their value, and it can help empower introverts while fostering their personal growth. 

Our Big Picture event for example can be a great choice. It gives introverts the opportunity to get more comfortable working in smaller groups, while also providing a chance for those groups to better know their introverted coworkers. 

Leadership Stories is another great choice for empowering introverts and fostering understanding. Introverts get to take advantage of their strengths in leadership, decision making, and thoughtful consideration, which can help extroverted coworkers see what introverts have to offer. 

Empower Introverts and Build Stronger Teams

Extroverts may be the center of attention, but introverts are just as important. They are thoughtful problem solvers and great decision makers that can help drive you towards success. However, you need to be mindful of the struggles they face and work to create an environment that supports and empowers them. 

Create a workplace that fosters growth and supports introverts with the help of Team Bonding. We have tons of events that are perfect for developing understanding and encouraging personal growth, so get in touch with us today and start empowering introverts while building stronger teams.

Anna Webber

Team Contributor

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