If you’re an introvert, you’re probably used to being the quieter one in a bunch and only speaking out when you have something important to say.
In a social setting, those things may not matter so much, but in the workplace, being an introvert can be a challenge when you need to present yourself as a competent professional.
Just like extroverts can effortlessness throw out ideas and build rapport quickly among coworkers, introverts have their own set of strengths to contribute to the workplace.
If you consider yourself an introvert, here are four ways to make that work in your favor in the workplace.
1. Be a great listener when you’re not up for talking
It’s commonplace for introverts to avoid speaking up in social settings at work, such as meetings. If you find that jumping into the conversation isn’t your strong suit, be an engaged, active listener instead. Soak in what your colleagues offer up and learn from it. Then, when you are ready to give input, it will come from a thoughtful, well-informed place.
2. Be honest about your work style
One saving grace for me as an introvert in the social field of public relations is being brutally honest about how I like to work: alone. Tell your co-workers the environment you like to work in, and if your office allows, create that environment for yourself. Don’t feel that you have to be tied to your desk in an open office when there’s a potentially quieter area available. Find out if teleworking is an option for at least part of the week. And, get creative about making your workspace work for you, for example, by making a stellar playlist to get you in the zone and give the illusion of working solo.
3. Ask for tasks that allow you to live out your full, introverted potential
According to Yale University, introverts are known for being focused, detail-oriented, and reliable—all of which are qualities any employer would value. In the buzz of a busy workplace, an introvert can be an anchor. Look for opportunities to play up these strengths, for example, by taking on the planning or logistics of social events, or being the point person for keeping a project moving forward with schedules and milestones.
4. Make connections that matter
While introverts aren’t the kind of people that “never meet a stranger,” they are great at building meaningful, one-on-one connections. If you work in a social field, there will likely be tons of people ready and willing to critique your work, give advice, or play a more formal mentorship role. Building a relationship with those social people can help you in the long run. They could end up being the biggest advocates for you when you want to advance in your company or career. And, you’ll have a go-to when you want to break out of your introverted shell, even just for a minute.