5 success tips for introverts
Even though U.S. business culture tends to be more extrovert-friendly, introverts can still get ahead. If you are an introvert, here are five ways to shine:
Understand the difference between shyness and introversion.
Many people think introverts are shy, but that’s not necessarily the case, according to John Nixon, EdD, a licensed professional counselor and area chair for the counseling program at the University of Phoenix Las Vegas Campus.
“Shyness is a type of anxiety where you fear social interaction, whereas introversion is a personality type,” Nixon says. “Not all introverts are shy, and not all shy people are introverts.”
Rather, he says, introverts are people who draw their main source for creativity and inspiration from within rather than from collaboration. Writers, artists and scientists often are introverts, according to Nixon.
“Think of Apple’s Steve Wozniak, the engineer who created the computing devices Steve Jobs brought to the spotlight,” he says.
Embrace your individuality.
The most important thing for introverts to remember is to be themselves and allow their abilities to shine, Nixon stresses.
“In today’s corporate culture, the magnetic, charismatic personalities tend to get noticed and rewarded,” he says. “But creativity is best generated individually, and that’s where introverts excel.”
Indeed, introverts can make great leaders. “Current studies seem to indicate that it’s the complementary partnerships — introverts leading extroverts or vice versa — that [result in] the greatest productivity.” Nixon cites introvert Abraham Lincoln as an example.
Be a problem-solver.
Introverts often are more reserved during their internal creative processes, preferring to think about and observe situations carefully before acting. This can make them excellent problem-solvers, according to Nixon.
“Pete Rouse, a current advisor to President [Barack] Obama, is a great example of this,” he says. “You don’t see much of him in the media, but behind the scenes, Rouse is known as ‘the fixer.’ When introverts speak, what they say tends to be more meaningful than the extrovert who is always talking.”
Find ways to recharge.
Even socially outgoing introverts crave down time, because it’s how they reboot and tap into creativity. This can be tough in today’s open office environments. “I recommend that introverts build some quiet structure into their days, whether it’s taking a walk alone, going to a quiet room or using white noise at their desks to create a virtual private space,” Nixon says.
Adapt to the situation.
Introverts can learn to function well in extrovert-friendly environments while still being true to themselves, Nixon argues.
“Practice certain actions and behaviors that are valued ‘in the arena,’ and use them when necessary,” he says. “Adapting to the extrovert world doesn’t change who you are. It’s a marketable behavior skill.”