Let me guess. You’re reading this because you’re an introvert, too. An introvert whose job is for extroverts like being a teacher, a lawyer, public relations officer, financial advisor, customer service representative, nurse, manager, event planner, or something else.
If not, perhaps you’re a boss who wants to know more about an introvert employee or someone who wants to help their introvert friend get through their job. Whoever you are, or whatever type of personality you have, it’s important to know about introverts who play roles of extroverts in the workplace.
So here are 10 brutally honest truths you need to know:
1. We never love attending office parties or team building activities.
We know that all these activities are made for improvement or growth as they strengthen the bond among the employees and employers. We believe in what these activities can do to make us better. But that doesn’t mean we enjoy them. Playing games, doing an open forum, flinging around, drinking with three or more people, small talk. Those are not our cup of tea. They never will be. If we attend an event then most likely it is mandatory. Or, we’ve been told it there will be certain consequences if we don’t participate. Nonetheless, it won’t take too long till we slip away from that certain gathering to find a “shell” to hide in.
2. We practice what we’re about say to someone or how we’re going to approach them.
Before we even talk to someone we’re not deeply familiar with (they may be a customer, client, patient, boss, parent of a student), we literally imagine how we’re going to do it beforehand. We calculate everything first, and sometimes we just end up doing something that can help us dodge the interaction like sending a message or leaving a note instead of talking to them in person. This happens mostly for freshly hired introverts since experienced ones have mastered feigning enthusiasm and spontaneity in interacting with others.
3. We stammer simply because we hesitate to speak.
Even if we have been in an extrovert’s job for a year or a decade, we still stammer during conversations. Don’t think it’s linked with shyness or discomfort. It’s either because we often find it lazy to talk, or because we have so many things coming out from the abyss of our minds that our tongue finds them difficult to say.
4. We always look for a solitary corner.
That solitary corner could be the most untidy table in the cafeteria, the farthest couch in the lobby, the top bed of the bunk in the sleeping quarter, an aloof cubicle in the library, or even a corner in the parking lot. It’s our place for breathing. A place for us to de-stress from all the commotions that overwhelm us.
5. We feel weak with organizing things.
We are innately unorganized because we are not wired with the goal to please others or meet their expectations. We are born to be spontaneous because we live in our own world. Thus, as introverts in an extrovert’s job, it takes a certain level of effort for us to gradually learn how to organize everything. It’s downright difficult for us when organizing becomes mandatory in the job because we could ruin plans and expectations.
6. We work on things really slowly.
It’s because we are often disrupted by our daydreamer nature. We always find ourselves staring into space and we wish we could always wear headphones. And this is why we’re always excited to go home.
7. We are often misunderstood in different situations.
People ask us why we’re not smiling. Or they try to coach us on things we already know but we don’t apply. They get mad at us for not showing enthusiasm when speaking to others. Or for not telling what’s supposed to be told. For going awry from what is planned. They see us as careless or indifferent (which might be true sometimes). But they don’t realize that there are things we’re not really comfortable doing and that it takes time for us to get there.
8. We carry a heavier burden of stress when we get home because we have absorbed so much from others.
We listen more than we talk so whenever our colleagues spread out their stresses by talking it all out, we just absorb all the negativity. It’s not that we don’t take the chance to express ourselves but it’s just that we don’t really feel like opening up. When we do open up we only talk to select people. But more frequently we just choose not to.
9. We wince at collaborative tasks.
Yes, we know we don’t have a choice. We signed up for this so we need to be cooperative. But we wish people understood that introverts maximize our skills by doing a task alone. If only they knew how much we can contribute with a job that’s individually done, then they would give us the chance to just work things on our own. We thrive in solitude and become more productive in remoteness. We’re not self-centered or difficult but it’s our nature is to work best alone.
10. We think of leaving every other day, if not every day.
The fact that we know this is not the job for us is enough reason for us to resign. As much as we would love to pursue what we know is for us, we feel pressure to stay in our stressful job because of many factors. For example, an introvert teacher can’t just leave their job right away because they hold records and documents that can’t be easily delegated to another. An introvert lawyer can’t just back down because their client has invested so much trust (and money) in them. An introvert manager can’t just leave their tasks because they bear a big role in the company. But the most common reason why we stay is that there are family members and other responsibilities that depend on us.
People have various understandings about introversion. But the truth they need to wake up to is that introverts are normal. We are not just shy nor awkward. We’re not unfriendly or snobs. We are not anti-social, but we are selective when it comes to interactions and we know when one is unnecessary. We are pensive and full of skills and creative flair. We can be the best people to lean on.
So don’t treat us like we’re just an accessory. Don’t treat us as if we know nothing about the world simply because we’re not showing off. We just don’t need approval. We don’t need too much attention.
We don’t need to be fixed.