“When psychologists have looked at who have been the most creative people over time in a wide variety of fields, almost all the people they looked at had serious streaks of introversion.”
~ Susan Cain
It seems to Gary that offices are constructed and organized to favor the extrovert. As an introvert, he finds open office spaces draining. And meetings with rapid give and take showcase extrovert’s social skills, but frustrate him as he takes time to think.
Gary determined to build on his own strengths in the office. While outgoing people gain energy from being around others, Gary knows he gains energy from solitude and ideas. Gary values the introverts in his office because they can focus easier and produce more.
Here is Gary’s list of six ways introverts can shine in the world of office politics.
1. Connect with Ideas.
Instead of joining others as they talk about sports, movies or people, Gary starts a conversation about ideas. He finds common ground with other people when he focuses on thinking topics, not social events.
2. Understand Yourself.
Gary recognizes his need for quiet and regeneration. He accept that in the wide range of personalities, he works best without distractions.
A study discussed in the Harvard Business Review showed introverts responded better to problem solving when the background noise level was lower. Extroverts performed better with louder noises.
When both you and your boss understand that you will be more productive when you have quiet and solitude to focus, you will benefit. Recognize that others may find synergy in large group discussion.
3. Be Comfortable Being You.
Gary learned his best work practices. Then he determined to speak up. When necessary, he requests that quiet office—or time in an unused conference room. Often he suggest meetings hold a few key players instead of multitudes.
Gary got his boss to try “Brainwriting” instead of brainstorming in sessions. Here each person writes an idea on a piece of paper and passes it to the person next to them. Once a paper has four to five ideas, the group stops to discuss them.
The quiet and time gives thinkers a better chance to respond. “It’s really helped me add value to the group,” Gary says. “And even the vocal members like it. They get to shine when we discuss it.”
Sometimes Gary gets an agenda ahead of time and plans out his thoughts and ideas.
4. Develop Relationships Your Way.
Socializing sometimes seems like a waste of time, but Gary recognizes that we all need relationships. He schedules 30-45 minutes each day to visit other people. He just stops by and say hi. “That small talk builds bridges,” he says.
What extroverts call “networking” or “selling yourself,” Gary renames. “Consider it ‘having a conversation’ or getting to know someone and letting them get to know you,” Gary says. “Choose your environment. I like one-on-one or small groups.”
5. Be fully present for 10 minutes.
When you are with other people, totally focus on them and what’s important to them for a full 10 minutes. “I find I can focus for that 10 minutes,” Gary says. “Then I feel free to move on.
“When you use your strength of focusing and direct it toward others, you make them feel valuable and important. This builds relationships and trust.”
6. Be Confident in Your Strengths.
Gary learned to value the great strengths he brought to the office. Studies show that the introvert rises to the top in team building as others value their focus and productivity. Many of the great creative people have had a more private personality.
Less outgoing people make great leaders. They are more willing to listen to others ideas. I think I use other’s strengths and let them run with an assignment,” Gary says. “Introverts are less likely to feel they must put their stamp on the project.”
Work places perform best with a blend of personalities. Each kind brings their own strengths to the mix. “As you come to trust your strengths and be comfortable seeking ways that allow you to be the most productive, you can thrive,” Gary says. “Then office politics are no longer a struggle for the introvert.”
Trying to figure out how to shine at your office? Contact Joel for a personalized assessment of your strengths and a blueprint on how to move up.