“Figure out what you are meant to contribute to the world and make sure you contribute it. If this requires public speaking or networking or other activities that make you uncomfortable, do them anyway. But accept that they’re difficult, get the training you need to make them easier, and reward yourself when you’re done.”
~Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
Kevin works as a compliance officer for an insurance company. “I have always been an introvert,” Kevin said. “I really enjoy quiet, alone time.”
He looked for careers that would be suitable to his introverted personality. “They say that engineers, scientists, accounting are all great jobs for introverts. But I hated math,” he said.
Sophia Dembling, author of The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World says, “What careers are good for introverts? Whatever interests them.”
Kevin realized he couldn’t be in tech fields, because they just didn’t interest him. Rather, he chose a field he loved and then figured out how to adjust to it.
Every job has a mix of skills that require both quiet time and time with others. Introverts can adjust and balance those times.
Use Your Strengths
Introverts are good listeners. They can be quiet and give others the opportunity to share. They can think and ponder.
“When I talk with others on compliance issues, I find they are much more amenable to doing things the necessary way after I’ve given them a chance to talk and explain their position,” Kevin said. “Sometimes they bring up valid points. But in any case, they feel like they’ve been heard and understood. It makes my job easier.”
Introverts can use quiet time efficiently.
“I have a program or a pattern I use that works for me,” Kevin says. “When I get to my office, and it’s quiet, I accomplish a lot.”
Structure Your Work to Suit You
There are times when things get very busy and Kevin needs to interact with people… sometimes with high emotional content. He organizes and balances his work time to regenerate.
1. Take a Break.
There may be times introverts just need to step out and take a break. Lunch time may be taken in the car, at a quiet park or even in the library.
You may schedule breaks to take a rest from the din. You know your capacity. You know your work location. Find quiet spots to restore your equilibrium.
2. Turn it off.
When Kevin comes back to the office after stressful meetings, he turns off the phone. He hangs a sign on the door that says, “Focusing. If you’re not dead or dying, please don’t disturb.”
He has trained his colleagues to respect his time for silence and thought.
“It’s not just introverts that need quiet to focus,” Kevin said. “In our office many others have taken to scheduling blocks of time for focused work. They tell me they are amazed at how much they accomplish.”
Kevin said he’s learned that as he understands and takes care of himself, he’s more successful. “Introverts can succeed at any job,” Kevin says. “Who’s to label these jobs introvert jobs and those extrovert jobs? Steve Martin, the actor, is an introvert. Warren Buffet’s an introvert. People in sales can be introverts and still be very successful.”
Kevin’s advice: Choose the job you love and you’ll figure out how to make it work for you.
Need help figuring out how to adjust your job to your introvert tendencies? Contact Joel for individualized assistance, and read more of his advice tailored to the introvert’s needs and how to advance in your career quickly.