Introverted at Work

Some people have a hard time understanding that I’m an introvert. They think that because I’m friendly, I talk to people, I speak up in meetings, I have a boyfriend and friends, that that must mean that I’m an extrovert. I promise you though, I am 100% introvert and 0% extrovert.

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I’ve definitely found that moving to a new city and being an introvert can be really tough and lonely, but what I’ve found even more challenging is dealing with being an introvert at work. Because I’ll have days like yesterday.

I knew the project was going to be a pain in the ass because it involved me printing out 65 forms and going up to 65 coworkers and asking them to sign the form. The project isn’t part of my job, it was something that I offered to do because no one else was offering to do it. So I set aside 4 hours of my day to do this chore and I wore comfortable clothes… I was ready to go.

Not everyone was a jerk about it, but there were a few people who audibly complained to me about being asked to sign. A couple times I got so flustered that I started sweating profusely. I was trekking all across 5 floors and by the end I was tired. I managed to get through the rest of the work day, but when I got home I was in bed by 6 and fell asleep at 9. Dealing with that many people in one day just utterly exhausted me.

In my role, I’m expected to be an extrovert. I sit in meetings everyday and get huge groups of people together and I generally try to make everyone like me all the time. It’s tiring for anyone, but especially me. I’m struggled to find a foothold in all of it, and honestly, it’s a process. I don’t feel like I’ve gotten all that much better at handling my introvert-ness in this role quite yet.

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That’s one of the major reasons that I picked up “The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World.” I liked that it wasn’t necessarily self help, it was more a psychological analyzation of what being introverted IS and what our strengths are. Plus, what extroverts find unnerving/don’t like about introverts and how to address that. It’s a lot of facts and was an interesting read! I wanted to share a bit with my fellow “innies”:

-Only 25% of the population is introverted and 60% of the intellectually gifted are introverted.

-When extroverts study at the library, they study for a short period of time, but need breaks for stimulation and to increase their concentration. Breaks actually decrease introverts concentration, but they may also become too overwhelmed by all the information that they take in all at once.

-Highly sensitive people are often described as having a sixth sense, they are extremely perceptive, intuitive, observant and may stay away from some events because they flood their senses too much. Extroverts can be highly sensitive too.

-“Meaty” conversation gives introverts happiness, rather than social chit chat.

-When an introvert opens up and shares something that doesn’t go over well, the shame that they feel makes them withdraw for a long time.

-Jung believed that from evolutionary perspective, it was good to have diversity and variation of people in introverts and extroverts. Introverts tend to have less children, conserve their energy and they live longer.

-Introverts have more blood flow to their brains, and the blood flows in long, complex pathways, through the parts of the brain associated with remembering, problem solving and planning. This long pathway can cause introverts to take longer to retrieve a memory or explain simple things, like what their job is. Many introverts will start talking in the middle of their thought or assume they told someone something when they didn’t.

-Introverts reduce eye contact when speaking, but make lots of eye contact when listening.

-Extroverts have a low sensitivity to dopamine in the brain, which is why the need more of it. Introverts are highly sensitive to it, which is why they don’t need much.

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Left & Right: 

-During the first two years of life, babies primarily use their right brain, but after to years we switch over to left brain thinking, when language begins to appear. Introverts are either right brained or left brained dominant.

-Right brained people are spontaneous, emotional, creative, funny and can multitask. They notice patterns, think in pictures and use their hands a lot in conversations. These “starving artists” right brained folks are more likely to be women.

-Left brain people process one thing at a time, are list makers and have to finish their task before starting another. They are tidy, punctual, witty, sarcastic and think in concrete terms. The American education system is set up for left-brainers because they learn from repetition, can memorize facts and enjoy data. They fit better into the introverted stereotypes and tend to be men. (Poor Morgan, always the masculine one. I’m so left-brained it’s not even funny.)

-Introverts: have a lower pain tolerance, lower self esteem, sleep problems and they adapt to time changes worse than extroverts. However, they do better in college and graduate school, have less run ins with the law, divorce less and perform better at tasks that require concentration.

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Introvert Relationships:

-In innie-innie relationships, the couple tends to listen better, be patient, argue less and understand each others needs for alone time and quiet. However, they may start to lose touch with the outside world, rely on each other too much and avoid discussing difficult topics. It’s important for innie-innie’s to flex their individual muscles sometimes and use their partner to socialize, by making regular plans with friends, take turns planning dates and always keep trying something new.

-Adding friends to your schedule isn’t necessarily a bad thing for introverts. Without a plan, they are less likely to go out of their way to do something. Having a definite start and stop time is important for innies too. (side note: when I was little I really wanted a cellphone because I loved the idea that I could call someone on the way to where I was going and then have a real reason to get off of the phone. “Sorry Grandpa, I’d better get inside for class, love you!” instead of being like, “Hey Grandpa, I’d better go. I’d literally rather be doing anything but talk to you any longer.” Now I know I wasn’t so nuts!)

Day to Day:

  • Introverts require more time to restore and need more “breaks” in their day than extroverts.
  • Many introverts benefit from “do nothing” days at home and spend one day a weekend in their PJ’s, without leaving the house.
  • Introverts tend to breath shallowly and therefore need to actively think about breathing deeply.
  • Many introverted people make a nook or cranny in their life that’s just for them. Whether it’s laying in bed reading a book or tinkering in the garage, they need a time and place that’s just for them.
  • Introverts have a harder time getting going in the morning and rely on natural light to jumpstart their day.
  • Innies also tend to get colder than outies and get overheated more quickly.

 

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Introverts at Work:

  • Introverts like quiet and may come off as being quiet.
  • They care deeply about their work and workplace, but may have trouble communicating and need to be asked for their opinions and ideas.
  • Innies do not like to be interrupted and can work on long, complex problems if they get the time alone that they need.
  • They like to work alone, they don’t like to draw attention to themselves and they tend to stay in their office or cubicle.
  • They do not need supervision and may need time before acting or recognizing someone.

-Introverts can’t make instant decisions very quickly. They get overwhelmed easily and need time to process what they truly want. Usually they feel pressured to say yes or no. Sometimes “maybe” is the best answer for those moments.

-Introverts quite literally need to “sleep on it”. They require REM sleep to process their thoughts for the day into long term memory.

-Introverts need to leave a meeting and process their thoughts about it. Once they have formulated their thoughts, it’s usually too late and extroverts have already implemented the idea they discussed in the meeting. Sometimes introverts will volunteer an idea in a meeting, but it’s usually out of sync with what everyone else is discussing.

In meetings:

  • Introverts should try to schedule as few as possible in one day.
  • They should choose an advantageous spot according to their preference. Near the door? Facing the window?
  • Try to greet everyone with a smile and take notes, to show that you are paying attention.
  • If their thoughts are out of sync with the moment, they can turn it back around by saying something like, “I would like to comment on something that you said a few minutes ago…” acknowledging that they are discussing something that has passed for most people in the room.
  • Let your fellow attendees know know that you will keep thinking about this topic and later, if another thought comes to mind, it will seem natural to shoot over a note or email to that person.

PS: I took these photos on a hike with my friend Chris. They have nothing to do with introversion since I was with a friend and being very social (and cold). But aren’t they pretty gorgeous? It was an excellent hike!

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2 thoughts on “Introverted at Work

  1. I really enjoyed this post! Both Ezekiel & I are introverts. Interestingly, as you note, others mistake my skills in social situations as evidence of my being an obvious extrovert. Zeke recently broke up with a girl because, in great part, she could not understand or accept his intense need for alone time. I’m pretty good a turning on my “socializing switch” when I need to, but a time does arrive at any social situation when it just shuts down and I need to go home. We adapt!

    1. Absolutely 🙂 I think all the Denno’s are an interesting bunch because I think we have all learned how to appear extroverted when needed, but then we go home at the end of the day like introverted homebodies!

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