Appreciating the Strengths of Introverts in the Corporate Environment
Growing up, my best friend was Bobby, he of the amazing luck. As friends, we balanced each other pretty well: his birthday was in the fall, mine is in the spring; he could dance, but I could sing; he could deal with the spiders that made me scream like a little girl with a skinned knee, but I could handle the snakes that made him fear he was going to wet his underpants; and the big one, he was an extroverted theater major while I was an introverted art major. Back when we were just getting into the “adult world,” it seemed like the universe was built for a talented extrovert with more charisma than any one person should have – any opportunity that meant dealing with the public or entailed customer service, Bobby was the tops. The place where he had trouble was in the corporate world, where adherence to company rules, regulations, and policies trumped a free-willing style. On the other hand, being in an environment where one needed to hunker down with their nose to the grindstone worked out just fine for me… me, the guy who couldn’t seem to sell water to a burning man.
Come to find out, I was an outlier to a prospect the corporate world is slowly coming around to accepting: Introverts can be and often are better inside a business environment than their charming Extrovert counterparts.
Last year, Jeffrey Hazlett wrote an article for Entrepreneur Magazine where he discussed four reasons why Introverts may be better in the corporate world. The reasons he pointed out:
Introverts are good at being alone. Introverts are already comfortable being inside their own heads, so long hours working by themselves on a project doesn’t phase. Where an Extrovert loses steam when they are not surrounded by large groups of people, Introverts draw power from their alone time, where they can focus solely on the task at hand.
Introverts and intuition usually come hand in hand. Once an Introvert concludes what course of action feels right to them and their gut instinct, they tend not to seek external validation for that decision. They don’t turn down the validation, but they don’t need a bunch of people giving their approval before they’ll act – in these situations, they tend to trust themselves.
While Extroverts love being the center of attention, Introverts prefer to watch and listen, then wait until they have something tangible to contribute. This means Introverts are often able to connect random items into a bigger picture that the flightier Extroverts miss. It also means Introverts are more willing and able to listen to clients, empathize with the clients problems, and find a meaningful answer that satisfies both parties.
Because they prefer to watch and listen, Introverts tend to be able to see multiple points of view. While the Extrovert is at the mercy of their rampant emotions, the Introvert is keeping their egos in check and viewing the issue rationally. This is a helpful ability if what the business really needs is a diplomatic solution, preferably from outside the box. Introverts prefer order to chaos, so they tend to create order out of chaos.
Extroverts will always have a place in the corporate world… but the corporate world is starting to give credit where credit is due when it comes to the quiet types sitting in the corner taking it all in. After all, as Jeffrey Hayzlett point out in his article, Bill Gate, Warren Buffet, and Mark Zuckerberg are all Introverts.