On your performance reviews are you told you need to speak up more? Spend less time in your office? Socialize more with your colleagues? Be more of a “team player”? Would you rather poke a stick in your eye than go to a work-related happy hour? If so, you’re probably an introvert.
If no one would suspect this to be true, and you’re not even sure yourself, you’re probably a Closet Introvert. That means a person who can be the absolute life of the party when around people, or the situation calls for that, but who also needs a lot down time to recuperate and rejuvenate.
Do you dread working so-called “open” paces? Where you are forced to listen to dating details of people you don’t know, crunching noises, conference calls and constant interruptions?
Do you sometimes not ask a question or make a comment because it will merely extend a long meeting that’s going no where anyway?
You’re probably an introvert working in an extroverted organization.
You don’t have to come out of the closet; that’s not the point. What matters is that you recognize to yourself that you crave more silence to be with your thoughts. You can have more influence by being strategic in your communication and by managing your energy more carefully.
Introverts definitely have something of great value to say; it’s a matter of finding the right venue for your message.
Deep thinking and solution development never happens in an open workspace, unless you’re there alone at 4 in the morning.
Fabulous answers seldom emerge from typical meetings. (Innovative ideas are far more likely to come to you in the shower.)
The challenges for Closet Introverts are:
1) Manage your energy better so you can spend more time on the real work. That means leveraging your communication so it works harder for you.
2) It’s a matter of bringing your very valuable ideas and insights to directly decision makers, perhaps in private meetings rather than in large group settings. (Be more selective about when and where and with whom you share your ideas.)
The consequences for companies who fail to facilitate contributions from introverts are serious. Quiet people tend to be more contemplative and for sure have some reservations or suggestions that can benefit the organization. But in lengthy, disorganized meetings, no one is going to hear about these ideas. I have heard a number of stories about how quiet bankers tried to warn their colleagues about the dangers of their dicey lending practices and compulsion to buy bad debt in the years leading up to the 2008 crash. These folks were routinely dismissed as “negative” and as you know, completely disregarded.
If you’re a Closet Introvert, you don’t really need to come out of the closet. You just need to honor your gift for deep-dive thinking and use that powerful brain of yours to be strategic in your communication.