Tag Archives: introverts

5 phases of the extravert’s journey to an interview

We rarely see articles on how extraverts* can succeed at getting to interviews, but we often see articles directed toward introverts on this matter. In fact, I can’t recall self-help articles, let alone books, for extraverts (Es).

100 Strangers

100 Strangers

This said, Es need to focus on their strengths and challenges that get them to interviews.

It all begins with research

Es prefer to gather information through oral communications. Which is great if there are other job seekers or people currently employed to help them through this process, i.e., people with whom to network.

Extensively researching the job description and networking with people in the company can aid Es in writing their résumés, as they should be tailored to each job. Understanding the required skills and responsibilities is essential.

Research will continue in the job-search phase, as Es need to be prepared to talk about their knowledge of the company and quite possibly the industry and the interviewers themselves.

A strength of Es is the willingness to reach out to people in the companies for which they’d like to work. They are more apt to pick up the phone than their counterpart. They are also more inclined to ask for networking meeting, which are very valuable in terms of networking.

A challenge for Es is taking the time to research. It’s said that the Es tend to act before thinking; perhaps by not putting the effort into their written communications and thinking they can just wing it in an interview. They could take a lesson of their counterpart who do extensive research throughout their journey to the interview.

Writing compelling job-search marketing literature

This is a phase of getting to the interview where Es need to focus. While they are quick to act, they need to write résumés and LinkedIn profiles that show greater detail and effort. More to the point, their job-search marketing literature must demonstrate accomplishments that are quantified.

Many people have told me all they need to do is get to the interview and then they’ll be able to sell themselves. My response to this is, first you need to get to the interview, so your résumés needs to be the bait to get you there.

Es are professionals when it comes to disseminating their job-search marketing literature, though. They are not shy when it comes to handing their literature to hiring managers or having a neighbor or friend do it.

This brings us back to research. Es will have to dedicate extensive time to reviewing the job description and write accomplishment-laden résumés that speaks to employers’ needs and pain points. The same applies to their LinkedIn profiles and cover letters.

Read: 10 reasons why recruiters and hiring managers dread reading your resume.

Now it’s time to network

Networking can be intimidating for anyone. The word connotes gathering in a large group of people you don’t know and being forced to converse with them. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Networking should be looked at as “connecting with others.”

Keep in mind that one’s preference for introversion or extraversion is about energy level. It’s not about one’s ability to speak. Es generally have more energy than Is.

Is are considered to be great listeners, while Es feel comfortable making small talk; a strength Is envy. Here are things Es have to consider when talking with people:

  • Networking is a two-way street. Don’t go to an event expecting only to receive. Go to give as well.
  • Approach people with the appearance of confidence but don’t come across as arrogant.
  • Ask questions. People like to be asked questions about themselves.
  • Always bring personal business cards. This very popular article explains why they’re needed and what to include on them:
  • Finally, don’t assume networking can only occur in a formal setting. Other great ways of connecting with others is reaching out to the community and inner circle.

Es have a tendency to take control of conversations, which can be annoying to Is who are prone to go into listening mode. There gets to a point where the Is withdraw from the conversation and need to escape.

The ever-important interview

This is where researching goes beyond the job description. It now includes the company; industry/competition; and interviewers themselves, if Es are good. Real-time labor market research, e.g., networking, is sometimes the best way to gather important information.

Building rapport with the interviewers

This comes natural for Es. They come across as confident and outgoing. Interviewers gravitate to this. However, some interviewers might be put off by Es who come across as schmoozing. Their small talk and lengthy answers can be a detriment.

Be ready to answer tough interview questions

This is where the rubber meets the road, as they say.

Having researched the position, company, and the competition, Es should be prepared to answer tough interview question, such as behavioral-based ones. They should have their stories ready structured in the STAR format. For those unfamiliar:

S is the situation

T is the task in the situation

A is the action taken to solve the situation

R is the result of their actions.

Read this article to get a better idea of behavioral-based questions.

Thinking quickly on their feet

This is a strength of Es. They can process information and deliver answers quicker than Is. Marti Olsen Laney, The Introvert Advantage, explains: Is “have a longer neural pathway for processing stimuli. Information runs through a pathway that is associated with long term memory and planning,”

This doesn’t mean Es answers are more accurate; but their quick answers might give a sense of more confidence.

As with networking, Es need to be cognizant of over-talking. Many recruiters and hiring managers have told me that they’ve ended interviews early because candidates were not delivering concise answers.

Finally, follow-up

Here’s where Es could take a lesson from their counterpart, who feel more comfortable communicating through writing. There are well-stated rules for writing follow-up notes:

  • The thank you note/s must arrive 12-24 hours after the interview.
  • Every thank you note needs to be tailored to each interviewer. No formatted notes allowed.
  • Do more than thank everyone for their time; put more effort into it, such as bringing up a point of interest that was mentioned during the interview.
  • Also send a thank you note to the recruiter. They greatly appreciate them, and it keeps the recruiters in your network.

Failing to send a thank you note is failing to conclude the interview. I’ve been told by recruiters, HR, and hiring managers that they appreciate thank you notes. They really do. A few of them have said that not sending one can disqualify job candidates.


*Over the years I have received many rants about how I spell extravert. People tell me it should be extrovert. Both are acceptable spellings. I spell this dichotomy this way because Jung did. It’s just a matter of preference.

Photo: Flickr, Arnab Ghosal

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The truth: introverts and extraverts are wired differently

Guest author Edythe Richards

Two of the most common misunderstandings of the Extravert-Introvert dichotomy is that 1.) Introverted types are more introspective than Extroverted types, and 2.) Introverted types enjoy solitary activities more than Extraverted types.

Extravert Steve Balmer

The MBTI® relies on a dichotomous scoring procedure, and the instrument depends on this perspective of personality. The MBTI® assumes a person falls into 1 of 2 “sides” on each of 4 dichotomies, which results in one of 16 “Types.”

It is therefore a “forced choice” assessment (a person only has the option of “A” or “B”). We use both preferences on every dimension at different times, but we’re predisposed toward one over the other.

Unfortunately, some people who use the instrument do not fully explain the concepts of preferences to ensure an understanding of the dichotomies. The proper verbiage is not “You’re an Introvert” but “You have a preference for Introversion” or “You’re an Introverted type.”

The nature versus nurture debate is one of the oldest in the field of psychology, and I believe it can also apply to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator:

Introverts and Extraverts’ brains are simply wired differently. One major difference is the way they each respond to the neurotransmitters dopamine (which provides motivation to seek external “rewards” such as money, happy faces, food, exploration of the environment, social status and affiliation), and acetylcholine (which powers the ability to think deeply, reflect, and focus intently on one thing for a long period of time).

Dopamine:  while both Introverts and Extraverts have the same amount of dopamine, it is more active in the brains of Extraverts. This means that Extraverts are triggered by the expectation of these “rewards.”

In short, Extraverts have a low sensitivity to dopamine and therefore require large amounts of it, and they need adrenaline to increase the dopamine in their brains. Therefore, the more active they are, the more dopamine they have.

Introverts’ brains, on the other hand, are not as activated by these external rewards from the environment, so it may appear that they are less enthusiastic about these rewards. They are just less energized by external stimulation.

Acetylcholine: this neurotransmitter also rewards us, but on a more subtle level. It is more active in the brains of Introverts. When it is engaged, the body conserves energy, muscles relax, pupils constrict, blood pressure is lowered, and we relax as we withdraw from the external world. In short, the body is getting ready for “hibernation and contemplation”: two of the things Introverts like the most.

Introvert Reading

Additionally, Introverts and Extraverts process stimuli differently. The “dopamine pathway” Extraverts use is shorter than the Acetylcholine pathway Introverts use. This could explain why many Extraverts are able to respond faster to an onslaught of stimuli.

This explains why Extraverts may appear to like face-to-face networking more than online networking: they prefer the effects of dopamine, which are aligned with the interactions, new experiences and expressions of people that in-person networking events reinforce.

Too much dopamine overloads the brains of Introverts and they may be prone to over-stimulation at such events, thus preferring online networking where they can be more relaxed in their own homes in familiar territory.

It’s important to note, however, that correlation does not imply causation. Though science says we’re pre-disposed to Extraversion or Introversion, our own individual experiences, families of origin, and culture all play a part too.


To use myself as an example: my mother was my primary caregiver, and she is a very clear Introvert. As a child, my behaviors and activities that were rewarded were Introverted ones; solitary activities such as reading, piano (solo – not with groups), and individual sports like horseback riding. I was taught to think before I speak, be mindful of other people; don’t interrupt, etc. We also lived on a farm, isolated from other people. I used to beg my mom to move us to a neighborhood so I could play with other kids. As a teenager, I craved group activities, and in college, I actively sought out group affiliates. As I became more aware of Type Theory, a light-bulb clicked: I am naturally an Extravert, but due to my upbringing, I became very comfortable in the world of Introverts – so much so, that even today, I’m often mistaken as an Introvert.

To be clear, there’s no right or wrong: we are who we are. All of us fall somewhere on the spectrum between Extraversion and Introversion – and all of us use both in our day-to-day lives. Neither is better or worse; we can all learn from each other.


Edythe Richards, founder of A Top Career (www.atopcareer.com) is a Career Counselor and Corporate Trainer in the Washington, DC Metro. She was one of the first 50 people worldwide to receive the Myers-Briggs Master Practitioner designation for her work with Type Theory in career development.

Photo: Flickr, Norbert Stuhrmann

Photo: Flickr, Brianthesnugglebunny

5 phases of the introvert’s journey to landing interviews

Ask anyone. They’ll tell that interviews are tough. Some will say they’re tougher for introverts than extraverts. Introverts, they argue, don’t make small talk as well as extraverts. They don’t come across as outgoing or friendly. They’re not as likeable. They get easily flustered. This is bunk.

Man interview

Here’s a fact; interviews are tough for both of those who prefer introversion or extraversion. Are they equally tough for both dichotomies? This is hard to say. Another fact is that introverts can shine in interviews, but they must be successful completing all phases that lead to and include the interview.

For the sake of this article, I’ll assert that interviews demand characteristics that introverts might find more difficult to master than their counterpart. Introverts might have to focus or concentrate more during certain phases of the interview process.

It all begins with research

Introverts are strong researchers. And this carries them through the process of landing interviews. The steps that lead to interviews require them to be prepared. They can’t cheat on any of the phases that follow.

Researching the job description and contacting people in the company can help them with writing their résumés, as they should be tailored to each job. Understanding the required skills and responsibilities is essential.

Similarly, researching the job description will help them answer the tough interview questions. They must go further and study the company’s website, use Google, perhaps Glassdoor.com, and read press releases to gain a full understanding of the company. Researching  the company will help them answer question about the company.

To take it a step further, it would behoove them to use labor market websites so they can answer questions about their industry and the company’s competition. Interviewers will be extremely impressed if job candidates can speak to their competition.


Writing compelling job-search marketing literature

This is a phase of the interview process where introverts can really succeed. They enjoy writing and are reluctant to pick up the phone. As I was explaining to my clients, the nice thing about writing their job-search documents is that have time to collect their thoughts.

Introverts will spend more time constructing their marketing literature, e.g., résumé, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile. There can be a risk in spending too much time during the writing phase of the job search, so introverts need to be able to say “done” and not obsess over getting it perfect.

This speaks to the ability to process information. Introverts prefer writing because they can take their time formulating their thoughts. Generally, they spend more time writing than speaking to communicate.

Introverts need to take it a step further and disseminate their résumé in a more effective way. Pundits believe that the success rate of sending one’s résumé to employer via job boards is 4%-10%. Further, there’s the applicant tracking system (ATS) to contend with.

Therefore, it’s important that introverts deliver their résumé/cover letter directly to hiring decision makers, as well as through the job boards. This is a tall order for some introverts, because it requires…you guessed it, networking.

Read: 10 reasons why recruiters and hiring managers dread reading your resume.


Now it’s time to network

Networking can be intimidating for anyone. The word connotes gathering in a large group of people you don’t know and being forced to make conversation. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Networking should be looked at as “connecting with others.”

Generally speaking, introverts are excellent listeners who come across as truly interested in what others have to say. This can be a benefit while networking. Along with being great listeners, introverts tend to ask questions, which their networking cohorts appreciate.

Keep in mind that one’s preference for introversion or extraversion is about energy level. It’s not about one’s ability to speak. Introverts generally don’t have the energy level and/or the inclination to be with people after a hard day of job hunting.

Because introverts are thoughtful thinkers and excellent listeners, connecting with others can be a strength, not a weakness. They need to keep the following in mind:

  • Establish a doable goal. Introverts don’t have to “work the room”; they can talk with two or three people and call it a successful day.
  • Networking is a two-way street. Don’t go to an event expecting only to receive. Go to give as well.
  • Approach people with the appearance of confidence, even if they’re shaking in their boots. Once conversations begin, the confidence will come.
  • Ask questions. People like to be asked questions about themselves.
  • Always bring personal business cards. This very popular article explains why they’re needed and what to include on them:
  • Finally, don’t assume networking can only occur in a formal setting. Other great ways of connecting with others is by creating buddy groups, which are smaller and more intimate; connect in the community; and schedule coffee dates.

The ever-important interview

What happens before the interview? The correct answer is preparation.

What too many people fail to realize is that preparation is key. With preparation comes confidence, with confidence comes better performance. Introverts are masters at research.

Introverts learn best by studying and researching information and then reflecting upon that information. They internalize what they learn and often put it to writing. In some of my workshops I ask the attendees to write 10 STAR accomplishments on index cards. This helps them remember their accomplishments better.

It’s great that introverts prepare for interviews by studying the job description, the companies website, and labor market information; however, they need to network in large groups or meet-ups, where they can gather important information.

Real-time labor market research, e.g., networking, is sometimes the best way to gather important information.

Listening is an introverts’ strength

Being a great listener can also be beneficial in an interview, where it’s important to hear the questions being asked and not trying to answer the questions without hearing them through. The ability to listen also comes across as being interested in the conversation.

What’s the flip-side of talking too much? That’s right, not talking enough. Here’s where introverts need to be mindful and demonstrate their value through answers that aren’t too short, nor aren’t to long. It’s a tough balancing act.

Be ready to answer tough interview questions

This is where the rubber meets the road, as they say.

With their inclination to research the position, company, and the competition, introverts should be prepared to answer tough interview question, such as behavioral-based ones. They should have their stories ready structured in the STAR format. For those unfamiliar:

S is the situation

T is the task in the situation

A is the action taken to solve the situation

R is the result of their actions.

Read this article to get a better idea of behavioral-based questions.

Whereas introverts might not talk enough, extraverts tend to talk too much. We’ve heard people bemoan, “He must be an extrovert. He talks way too much.” This is believed be true because extraverts aren’t as comfortable with silence as introverts are.


Finally, follow-up

Here’s where introverts can really shine. Given their preference to write, thank you notes should be no problem for them. There are well-stated rules for writing follow-up notes, though.

  • The thank you notes must arrive 12-24 hours after the interview.
  • Every thank you note needs to be tailored to each interviewer. No formatted notes allowed.
  • Do more than thank each individual for their time. Put more effort into it, such as bringing up a point of interest that was mentioned during the interview.
  • Also send a thank you note to the recruiter. They greatly appreciate them, and it keeps the recruiters in your network.

Failing to send a thank you note is failing to conclude the interview. I’ve been told by recruiters, HR, and hiring managers that they appreciate thank you notes. They really do. A few of them have said that not sending one can disqualify job candidates.

 

 

9 articles that can help you understand introverts in the job search and life

When you learned of your introversion, did you feel a sense of pride or dread. I hope it’s the former, because I am proud to call myself an introvert. Let me correct myself: I’m glad to have a preference for introversion.

man research

One fact that’s important to comprehend—and may give you some solace—is your ability to assert your energy across the spectrum of introversion and extraversion.

In other words, you can demonstrate the traits of an extravert—such as being outgoing and gregarious, excelling at small talk, burning the candle at both ends, managing employees, etc.

Extraverts, the same applies to you. You can be great listeners, take moments to reflect, be alone without being lonely, enjoy writing rather than speaking, etc.

The majority of these articles are about challenges introverts face, but some of them also address the challenges extraverts face. Both dichotomies have their own challenges.


Brainstorming: does it work for introverts?

As an introvert I consider brainstorming sessions a waste of time if there is no semblance of order and structure. I grow weary of meetings that resemble a social gathering. However, a well-run meeting that covers all the topics in a quick manner can be extremely effective.

5 phases of an extravert’s journey to landing interviews

This article is a follow-up to 5 phases of the introvert’s journey to landing interviews. I figured, why not talk about the folks on the other side of the isle?  Read both articles.

5 phases of the introvert’s journey to landing interviews

Interviews are tough for introverts and extraverts, but some believe introverts have a tougher time at interviewing. There are ways introverts can make interviews easier and succeed in wowing employers. Read about them here.

Two areas where self-promotion is important for introverts

One challenge introverts might face is being able to promote themselves in the job search and at work. This post addresses how they can promote themselves.

6 reasons why introverts prefer to write

Introverts generally prefer writing over, say, talking on the phone. It gives them the opportunity to think about what they would like to say in their own time. In addition, they don’t get overpowered by loquacious people, something they don’t enjoy.

5 places introverts need to get away to recharge their batteries

This post is not about the job search, per say; but it is about how introverts use their energy. When it comes down to it introversion is about energy, energy they have to be around people.

3 vital areas where Extraverts can improve their job search

What did I say in the intro? This compilation of posts doesn’t only address introverts; it also addresses the challenges extraverts face. If you’re an extravert, I dare you to read this post.

8 awesome traits of the introvert

This post is a blast from the past but is still relevant. If you’re an introvert, read it to learn about your greatness. If you’re an extravert, learn more about introverts.

2 great reasons why introverted job seekers should walk

Introverts find various ways to carve out the time to reflect. Mine is walking. Yours may be hiking, yoga, going to the gym, taking a ride, etc. Imagine doing what helps you to reflect.

5 places where introverts need to get away to recharge their batteries

There are places where introverts need to get away to recharge their batteries. In this post, I’ll address five places where introverts sometimes need to escape for a moment. First I’ll relate a story of a family party, which illustrates the first place where introverts need to get away.

lake

A few years ago my family celebrated our daughter’s graduation from high school with a small celebration. We were near a lake and the temperature was in the 90’s. Many of our friends were there with their kids, who immediately took to the water.

It was the perfect setting. I enjoyed conversing with our friends, as we talked about kids and past events; and I was particularly animated as I talked.

Then it hit me like a title wave. I needed time to get away and recharge my batteries. Did I care if company would miss me? Not really.

As an introvert, group events can take a toll on me. I enjoy the company of others, but my energy level for talking with them is not as enduring as it is for extraverts.

Extraverts have that energy that drives them through a party; it charges their batteries. They derive mental stimulation by talking and being listened to.

I don’t’ envy them, though. The time alone to watch the kids swimming in the lake or even sitting in silence next to another introvert is as rewarding as it is for extraverts to talk to others at length. It’s a time to reflect.

Networking events. As an introvert, you may find yourself enjoying a conversation with a few people, but suddenly it occurs to you that where you’d rather be is in a quiet place, such as outside getting some fresh air.

What’s likely to happen is another introvert joining you, perhaps by mistake or because she saw you escaping to your place of reflection.

This is fine, because it’s you and she making small talk, such as, “Had to get away from the crowd.” I know what you mean, she tells you. And so you’ve established a bond.

Like the time I stole away from our guest at my party, you’ve had the opportunity to recharge your batteries so you can return to the larger group, which is now in the “needs and leads” portion of the event.

One of my LinkedIn connections told me this type of break is what she needs during a business event and possibly an extended after hours. Sure, she’d like to retire to her hotel room, but understands the value of personal networking and pushes herself to keep going.

reflect

Work. Some introverts enjoy the opportunity to take a lunch-time walk, while their colleagues, most likely extraverts, are gathered in the staff room engaged in a boisterous conversation.

Walking alone or with a walking mate is a great way to recharge your batteries. I personally prefer listening to music or talk radio, as it allows me to walk at my rapid speed and lose myself in thoughts of the day.

If you’re fortunate to have an office or cubicle away from the fray, this type of situation is ideal after a day full of meetings, not only to recharge your battery but also to respond to any e-mails following the meetings.

Introverts are more productive when they have solitude and moments to reflect and write, something they prefer over meetings and brainstorming sessions. They derive their creativity from being alone or working with one other person.

Watch this TED talk by Susan Cain who explains how introverts are most creative.

Research

At home. Even when I’m home, I feel the need to wind down by reading a book or watching Netflix. This is alone time I value you very much.

My wife says I’m rigid, because I usually won’t join her when she goes out with our friends for dinner, as I know “dinner” can mean staying out past my bedtime. I don’t mind missing the interaction with our friends, and they understand my need for solitude.

Introverts need the opportunity to recover from an intense day of job searching or working. It’s the perfect conclusion to their day. Of course this doesn’t mean you neglect your family; be sure to engage with them before you get away to retire to a quiet place.

Vacation. Two summers ago our family was fortunate to vacation on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. (I say fortunate because we can’t always coordinate time when we’re always together.)

In my mind, this was a great vacation because it afforded me the time to reflectdraw my energy inward, and not concern myself with too much external stimuli. In three words: an introvert’s paradise.

We enjoyed many activities, including body surfacing in the ocean, people watching in Province Town, buying and eating lobster, taking walks to the Bay, and relaxing by the nightly fire.

The best part of the vacation was the time I spent reading alongside my daughter, who was engaged in Gone Girl. The rest of the family was down by the ocean body surfing or floating on the surface. Occasionally they’d beckon us to join them, but we’d wave our hands at them indicating we were happy where we were.


 

Whether you’re at a family gathering, a networking event, at work, at home, or on vacation; getting away is important for maintaining a strong energy level. Introverts are capable of interaction for extended periods of time, but we’re more comfortable if we take time to get away.

Don’t deny yourself this opportunity and don’t feel as if you’re being antisocial. You’ll be happier and more productive if you tend to your preferred way to energize yourself.

Photo: Flickr, Dave McGlinchey

Photo: Flickr, Kirsty Harrison

2 areas where self-promotion is important for introverts

As my wife and I were driving our daughter home from a summer camp in Maine, where she was employed as a counselor, my daughter brought up a topic that is familiar with those who prefer introversion. The topic was self-promotion, which many introverts struggle with.

work

She began be telling us that she worked harder than some of the counselors, but didn’t get recognized for it. In fact, those very counselors who weren’t as effective were given praise in moments when she should have. I asked her why, and she told me that they were constantly in the ear of the supervisors, being their friend and talking about the great things they did.

I couldn’t resist the temptation to put on my Myers-Briggs Type Indicator hat and give her some advice. I told her that in the future she’ll need to promote herself better. That self-promotion comes harder to introverts because they’re not as outspoken about it.

It’s not that introverts don’t want to be recognized, it’s just that they find it awkward doing what my daughter had described about the other counselors who were getting the recognition. I emphasized to my daughter that she has to be more proactive about promoting herself in the two most important areas in her life, the job search and then work.

So how can she and other introverts promote themselves in important areas of their lives?

Job search

Writing is something with which introverts are comfortable. It allows them to process their thoughts and speak (through writing) intelligently. Therefore, their written communications will in all likelihood outshine extraverts, who are more prone to talking. Introverts are stronger when it comes to writing resumes, cover letters, and their LinkedIn profiles.

Although introverts are not as comfortable with networking as extraverts, they possess the strength of listening and asking relevant questions. Introverts also prefer smaller groups, so a buddy group might be more to their liking. When it comes to conversation, introverts would rather talk in depth than have longer more shallow conversations. It’s not that extraverts are better networkers; they don’t get overwhelmed by people as much as introverts do.

In interviews introverts tend not to be as animated and spontaneous as their counterpart. They don’t display the bravado extraverts do. However, what they lack in display of enthusiasm, they bring more preparation to the table. I recently conducted a mock interview with a client who rates 20 out of 21 points as an introvert. She defied everything I’ve just written. She came across as confident, at sometimes animated, smiled and laughed on key. Through her answers I got the sense she had researched the company and position and, as a result, was well prepared. This can be a strength of introverts.

At work

As I state in my story about my daughter, introverts need to be more “friendly” with their direct supervisors. I’m not suggesting they appear in their supervisor’s office three times a day. It’s only natural for supervisors and managers to feel well liked, so visiting them or catching them in the hallway just to talk is a good thing. The seldom encounter is not kissing up to the supervisor; it’s building and nurturing a relationship.

As mentioned earlier, introverts’ strengths lie mostly in writing. In my opinion if extraverts are going to promote themselves through oral communications, why shouldn’t introverts promote themselves through written communications. I’m speaking of email. When I accomplish something at work, I send an email about my accomplishment to my manager. Sometimes I’ll cc the director of the organization.

If introverts take this approach, they must be sure to include anyone who helped them with a project, solved a problem, provided excellent customer service. In other words, not come across as self-serving.

The direct approach is sometimes best. Introverts must also be willing to knock on their manager’s door and talk about the accomplishment they’ve achieved. They shouldn’t come across as boastful, but they should show pride in their accomplishment.

The other day I went to my manager and told her I needed more clients to counsel (showing initiative). Before she could ask why, I told her that many of my clients were landing jobs. This made me feel somewhat awkward, but I knew it was a time when I had to point out my accomplishments…in a “by-the-way manner.” It was well taken by my manager.

One bit of advice I have for introverts, as well as exraverts, is not to use meetings as a way to blatantly tout their successes. If the timing is right, introverts should mention their accomplishments, while also acknowledging a team effort. Anyone who talks in “I” terms only comes across as self-centered. Eyes will start to roll when this happens.


Perhaps it’s the awkwardness of self-promotion that prevents introverts from getting promoted more often than extraverts. Introverts make excellent workers, as my daughter illustrates; but they don’t get the recognition, again as my daughter illustrates. I hope in the future she learns how to be more forthcoming with her accomplishments.

Photo: recruiter.com

 

Brainstorming: does it work for introverts?

On a visit to my brother’s school (he was a principal at the time), I noticed a whiteboard in his office with various notes on the school’s vision written on it. “Brainstorming session?” I asked. He nodded with a smile on his face.

Brainstorming

I thought to myself that I wouldn’t want to have been in that room when a group of people who were throwing ideas against the wall to see which ones stick. Furthermore, there were probably others who felt the same. Brainstorming is good, right?

One of my valued connections recently alerted me to an article, Is Agile Stifiling Introverts? The article decries the concept of a system that values brainstorming sessions as part of open work environments. While extraverts may prosper in an Agile environment, introverts may find it disconcerting.

Agile is often credited with company success, but opponents have concluded that its productivity is in question. The article states: “For years Agile has been encouraging teams to work together collaboratively in open spaces and encouraging developers to pair program, but lately these types of practices have been coming under fire.”

Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, explains that introverts excel in closed environments as opposed to open ones. A self-professed introvert, she supports the belief that a closed environment brings out creativity in introverts, not open environments like those depicted in the movie about Facebook, Social Network.

As an introvert I consider brainstorming sessions a waste of time if there is no semblance of order and structure. I grow weary of meetings that resemble a social gathering. However, a well-run meeting that covers all the topics in a quick manner can be extremely effective.

What has proved to be effective with introverts is paring them up with someone to solve problems, rather than chaotic brainstorming sessions, even if one works with someone who is not in total agreement. “Working alone is good for creativity – but being paired with someone who thinks differently from you can lead to more creativity yet,” states the aforementioned article.

Why introverts appreciate closed work environments with offices and cubicle supports a number of beliefs about I’s, such as they learn and gather more through independent research. They don’t want the distractions of colleagues walking into their workspace uninvited. A closed environment also gives them time to recharge their batteries if they’ve been interacting with groups or speaking in front of an audience.

Does this mean introverts are anti-social? No, but they’re not like their counterparts who seek out the company of others. Although it’s true some introverts, such as the stereotypical programmers, need almost complete privacy; many introverts can join the fracas and engage in office conversation. But, again, their preference is to be alone when it’s time to get down to work.

Cain is quoted in the article about the importance of solitude for introverts: “Solitude, as Cain says, is a key to creativity….Steve Wozniak claimed he never would have become such an expert if he left the house. Of course, collaboration is good (witness Woz and Steve Jobs), but there is a transcendent power of solitude.”

Pay attention in interviews

Job seekers can gain a lot from understanding their introversion or extraversions preference. At interviews they should make careful note of the work environment and ask questions pertaining to collaboration (brainstorming).

If introverts get the sense that it’s an Agile-type environment, it may not be the organization for them. Extraverts, on the other hand, would be happy to know that they’ll be among the social, freewheeling types.


Leaving my brother’s school, I asked him if he gained results from brainstorming. He smiled, saying that he finds it a great way to gather ideas, as well as letting people get to know each other better. Hmm, my ears were hearing “social gathering,” which to me doesn’t equal productivity.

Photo: Flickr, Michael Carli