An Introvert’s Guide: How to Manage Working With Others When You’d Rather Be Alone

As more workers return to the office, introverts find themselves having to re-learn to be around colleagues for hours at a time. Here’s how you can make the transition easier.

Introverts Make Up Half of the Workforce

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As many as 50% of employees say they consider themselves introverts, and as it turns out, that could make it harder for them to climb the corporate ladder.

Does Being an Introvert Impact Success?

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Statistically, introverts are less likely to receive due raises or be promoted to higher roles. Whether this is because introverts tend to keep to themselves or because their peers and managers don’t see leadership potential in them, it’s a concern for professional growth.

The Privilege of Extroversion

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Most people agree that extroverts have an easier time at work, both socially and professionally. Many introverts have said they thrive working from home in an environment where they rarely have to interact with colleagues or customers.

Return-to-Work Mandates Bring Introverts Out of Their Shells

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But now that companies are requiring their employees to come back into the office, introverts have to find ways to work in environments where they might not feel very comfortable.

Introverts Have a Lot to Offer

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The good news is that there’s no need to try and force a square peg into a round hole. Introverts have a plethora of qualities that make them excellent additions to any workplace. Not only do they work quite well independently, they also tend to be thoughtful and creative.

Employers Should Design a Diverse Think Tank

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Ultimately, in order to tap into the talents of introverted workers, it’s up to the employer to make sure their office environment is welcoming and inclusive of everyone. But there are some ways introverts can improve their own experiences at work without having to wear a metaphorical mask.

Introverted Does Not Mean Anti-Social

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As any introvert knows, having this particular personality trait does not mean that a person doesn’t want to be included in group activities. Sometimes, due to anxiety or other factors, it can be daunting to speak up in a social setting or large meeting, even if you have something important to add.

Confidence is Key

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One way to combat that is to keep in mind that you’re in the room for a reason. Your employer values your expertise and opinion — otherwise, they wouldn’t have hired you. Your contributions are just as important as anyone else’s, so don’t be afraid to speak up. 

Finding Ways to Meet Your Needs at Work

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If you’ve been working from home for the past few years, you might have gotten used to lots of privacy and quiet during the day. If those things are still important to you, consider asking if you can move from a cubicle into an empty office on the floor. 

Privacy May Be Hard to Come By, But You Can Improvise

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It may not be possible to get out of the bullpen or cubicle, and that’s okay. You might want to invest in a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones and try to orient your work equipment in a way that offers the most privacy.

Avoid Isolating: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

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However, don’t isolate yourself too much. The more you interact with your teammates, the more comfortable you’ll become around them. If your coworkers invite you out to happy hour or lunch, consider joining them once in a while. It can be beneficial for your overall social health, and studies show that connecting with others at work can lead to long-lasting friendships.

Maintaining Healthy Boundaries

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It’s understandable if you prefer to keep your personal life separate from your work life, though. In that case, try to invest as much time as you can in cultivating professional relationships. You don’t need to get personal, but being on good terms with your coworkers is important for many reasons.

The Effects of Making a Lasting Impression

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Professional connections will be critical as you evolve in your career. You also stand to learn a lot from peers who have been working in your industry longer than you have, and you have valuable insights to teach those who have come after you. Successful teamwork builds self-esteem, which in turn improves confidence and makes you better at your job. And if you build great connections with people who learn to value your work, you might find that it puts you in a positive position later in your career.

Feedback Isn’t the Enemy, Even When It’s Bad

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As an introvert, it can be hard to receive feedback. It doesn’t matter if it’s positive or negative; sometimes it’s difficult to know that your work is being analyzed. But learning to accept feedback of all kinds is the perfect way to grow both personally and professionally. Keep in mind that even negative feedback isn’t a bad thing; it’s an opportunity for growth.

How Isolation Impacts Your Health

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Isolation is an unfortunate reality for many introverts. You may be surprised to learn that the depth of your friendships can impact more than just your mental health: there are real-world potential impacts to your physical health, too. Having no close friends can be as detrimental to your physical health as smoking cigarettes.

Workplace Chats Make a Big Difference

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There’s more good news, though: the brief conversations you have at work, as long as they’re pleasant, can have a positive impact on your health. You don’t need to find your platonic soul mate in the office, but it’s a good idea to be on friendly terms with at least a few of your colleagues.

Selling Yourself Short Is Not the Answer

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Whether you find a life-long best friend at work or only interact with coworkers in the breakroom, finding moments to socialize at work doesn’t mean you can’t set boundaries. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being an introvert, and your talents and experience are the most important parts of your work life. 

Findings Ways Around Nerves

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The bottom line is this: don’t completely isolate yourself from your colleagues and don’t cower in meetings or be afraid to share your ideas. If anxiety is holding you back, consider sending ideas or notes via email ahead of an important meeting so that the host knows you have something you’d like to share. 

Be Yourself!

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Remember that your contributions are valuable and you are valid and important just the way you are. Don’t be afraid to be yourself!

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For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.

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