5 Powerful Ways to Turn Introverts into Top Performers

October 30, 2016 at 8:14 am Leave a comment

By Joe Pantuso

Throughout my life, I’ve heard others talk about introverts in a negative manner, speaking as though something is wrong with them: Why does he need so much alone time? Why is she so quiet? What are you always thinking about when you stare off into the distance rather than talking to me? What’s wrong with you?

There’s a one in three chance you’re an introvert. I am an introvert.

Introverts play an important role in our world; however, because we live in an extrovert’s world—loud, confidence-led—you might not even know what it means to be an introvert. You might think you’re alone in an introverted existence. You might even think of introversion as a hindrance, which is just not true.

Introverts like to keep a low profile. We’re often quiet, but not all of us are shy. We may avoid anything that remotely approaches conflict. However, introverts possess positive qualities that make us valuable employees. We like to think through things before we take action. We’re analytical by nature, and we listen to understand. We actually do enjoy social interaction and attention, but in a way that is different from extroverts. Extroverts draw energy from large social gatherings, while introverts prefer smaller settings.

Being an introvert has advantages. For example, in classroom discussions, I am engaged but slow to contribute. I hesitate because I want people to think that I have thought through my responses before speaking. As a result, when I do participate, my contributions are typically both accurate and valuable.

According to Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, up to 50 percent of all employees are introverts. Susan has started a movement called The Quiet Revolution, which celebrates and empowers introverts to embrace their quiet power. As a business leader, you ought to enable the full potential of all your employees. Leaders must ensure introverts that they have opportunities to become top performers and that they won’t be ignored in favor of their louder, more extroverted counterparts.

quietSusan Cain’s Quiet Leadership Institute helps companies and organizations empower their introverted employees by training both introverts and extroverts to communicate in a way that enhances everyone’s ability to work together. This research inspired me to create the Q.U.I.E.T. guidelines to address the needs of introverted employees.

Qualify interruptions. Reducing unnecessary interruptions will help introverted employees consistently perform at higher levels. Distractions overwhelm introverts, who are sensitive to interruptions. In the workplace, interruptions are frequent. Workers may take up to 25 minutes to get back on track when interrupted. Try to avoid interrupting your employees’ workflows unless absolutely necessary and encourage your people to avoid interrupting one another.

As an introvert, I understand the correlation between distractions and performance. I lose focus and patience when interrupted. Disruptions cause me to become irritated and aggravated, and, as a result, I become less efficient.

Utilize quiet space. According to research, 90 percent of workers say they need quiet, private places to do their work; however, more than 40 percent of workers report that they don’t have them in their workplaces. Employees, especially introverted ones, struggle to focus when the environment is noisy or coworkers are loud and rowdy. Help improve performance by providing quiet work areas where introverts can easily focus without distractions.

Today, open-plan offices are common in business. The open-office model promotes large open spaces, shared work areas, and few private offices. Despite their popularity, open-plan offices create huge problems by making work difficult for introverts. The environment damages workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction. This trend is negatively impacting the workplace.

Implement environment controls. Introverted employees are sensitive to their surroundings, and, therefore, must be able to control their environment. Noise, light, and the temperature are external factors that may affect introverts. When possible, allow introverts to change or modify their environment. Examples include light dimmers or desk lamps and thermostats or windows that open.

Establish a safe place. Establish a psychologically safe place to work for introverts. Open-office environments are not ideal for introverts because these environments tend to make them feel like the center of attention. Introverts may think that their coworkers are scrutinizing them. This scrutiny makes them anxious and uncomfortable and reduces their ability to focus and be productive. One must provide work places where others cannot constantly observe and scrutinize introverts.

I understand the value of a safe and private place to work. When I perceive others judging me, I feel self-conscious. This perception is a distraction that creates anxiety, reducing my performance and limiting my productivity.

Tolerate independence. Introverted employees work differently than extroverted ones and often need solitude during the workday. Give them permission to be alone. Solitude helps them to think more thoroughly and focus more intently on their work while mentally preparing for social interactions with customers, vendors, and coworkers. Allow introverts alone time without fear of penalty so they can function effectively.

Society expects everyone to speak up, compare experiences, and to socialize. These interactions can be difficult for introverts, who would rather spend their time alone. There is no shame in preferring solitude to socializing. We can only truly be ourselves when we’re behaving our natural way.

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Entry filed under: Interpersonal, Leadership Communication.

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