If you have ever noticed that after spending time around people, you need time alone to recharge, you might be an Introvert. Introverts get energy and motivation from within (“Intro” in Latin means “inwardly”), unlike Extraverts who get their energy and motivation from other people (“Extra” in Latin means “outside”).
(If you want a free way to measure your level of introversion, check out 16Personalities.com.)
Introversion and Extraversion are determined by differences in how the brain processes stimulation. You can’t tell by looking at someone whether they are introverted or extraverted, and these preferences tell us nothing about how well someone performs a task. Introverts can be highly skilled at work requiring extraversion; the important considerations are the frequency and length of the task requirements and whether there is sufficient time to re-energize.
People who are balanced between Introversion and Extraversion are Ambiverted. Ambiverts can exhibit flexibility about how they gain energy because their preferences are not strong in either direction. No one is a pure Introvert or a pure Extravert, but the stronger your preference, the more important it is to understand it so that you can make decisions that work well for you. In the career arena, here are some workplace environment characteristics that are a good fit for Introverts:
– Time Alone – Introverts need this time to recover after social interactions. The path to misery for an Introvert is to be required to participate in conversations or other highly interactive activities for hour after hour with no break. On a positive note, the telecommuting trend is very helpful for Introverts because working from home can be a great work/life solution for them.
– Opportunity to Reflect Before Responding – Introverts like to be well-prepared before responding to questions, so asking them to think on their feet is likely to be more stressful for them. They also tend to stay quiet in brainstorming meetings even when they have great ideas to contribute. They do well in workplaces that offer a variety of ways to make suggestions, not just yelling out ideas in a group.
– Deep Focus – Introverts are good at diving deeply into a subject. They are often persistent and systematic, so having the opportunity to stick to a topic until it is thoroughly investigated is likely to be satisfying for an Introvert. Because they enjoy focusing, they appreciate environments that are free of distractions and interruptions.
– Specialized Expertise – Introverts usually feel more comfortable having the opportunity to become an expert on a narrow range of things rather than scattering their effort across a broad spectrum of things as a generalist might enjoy.
– Writing More Than Speaking – Introvert tend to prefer writing to speaking, so their preferred modes of communication are often email, text, and web chatting without video. Most Introverts are less enthusiastic about talking on the telephone or via webcam. While most Introverts prefer writing to speaking, when they do speak with others, they are often extremely skilled listeners.
Are you wondering which careers are a good fit for Introverts? This article on the best jobs for introverts has good ideas.
If you are an Introvert who loves your career, please write to me and tell me about it. I may profile you in a future article (either by name or anonymously).
If you know an Introvert who would benefit from reading this article, please share it.