A longstanding misconception exists in the enterprise that denotes extroversion and big personalities as keys to success. Outgoing business professionals may have some social advantages over their introverted co-workers, using their outgoing persona to more easily convey thoughts, express ideas, relate to others, and communicate goals.
All of these qualities associated with extroverted personalities often give those individuals a leg up in interviews and meetings, helping them easily create meaningful relationships with those around them. Such relationships and connections can go a long way for employees pursuing higher up positions, which explains why extroverts have a 25% higher chance of landing a top job over an introvert, according to Sutton Trust report.
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However, personality doesn’t correlate with work quality. While extroverts might have an easier time getting there, introverts can actually be more effective in leadership positions, according to the Harvard Business Review, using their unique qualities to their advantage.
“Extroverts thrive on people and things and can often be found reacting in the moment, without processing or filtering their thoughts or responses,” said Lisa Barrington, a certified career coach and workplace and employee engagement strategist.
“Introverts gain their energy from thoughts, concepts, and ideas. They thrive on the ability to listen to and understand something and then process and reflect on it,” Barrington said. “As such, an introvert might ‘show up’ at work as someone who is slower to respond, more ‘quiet,’ and more introspective than an extrovert.”
Many people write off shy individuals as not being “go-getters,” which is an easy thing to do within the competitive environment of large organizations. But while extroverts take advantage of their own traits to get ahead, introverts can as well.
Here are the three qualities introverts can use to succeed and ascend in the workplace.
1. Emotional intelligence
Since introverts are typically on the quieter side, they have more of an opportunity to observe and assess situations. “A lot of people who are introverted spend a lot of time observing, are highly intelligent, and are very in tune with the energy of the room, but also physical mannerisms and things of that,” said Aaron Harvey, founder and executive creative director of integrated marketing agency Ready Set Rocket.
Being emotionally intelligent is an incredibly valuable skill that cannot be taught. Introverts can use this skill daily in the workplace, said Harvey, whether it’s strategically pitching ideas to associates, connecting to clients, or negotiating important deals. Having the ability to understand people and the way their minds work is priceless.
“[Introverts] thrive on the ability to listen to and understand something and then process and reflect on it,” said Barrington. By listening to everyone else ideas first, introverts have the ability to weigh options and ideas before coming to a conclusion.
“Introverts have a leg up when it comes to reading a room because they’re used to doing that. They’re used to sitting on the sideline and reading the energy of those around them, and that’s super powerful,” said Harvey.
While extroverts may speak a lot to get their ideas across, an introvert hears what others say and incorporates these new ideas into their work, said Nate Masterson, HR manager of Maple Holistics. Being a listener gives introverts the opportunity to absorb to ideas, file them away, and incorporate the techniques or advice later, he added.
Going hand-in-hand with the listening quality, introverts tend to be more thoughtful people, quickly analyzing situations in their minds, said Harvey. By taking quieter role, an introvert can consider all sides of an idea within the company, and then provide a well-thought out perspective.
“Just because someone is an introvert doesn’t mean that they can’t be successful,” Masterson said. “In fact, their quieter nature will let them be less distracted by office socializing and give them a chance to get more work done and complete projects faster.”
Extroverts have a more difficult time digesting information, wanting to contribute more than consider, Barrington said. “An introvert can pause the conversation, slow down the momentum, and ensure that all members have a say and adequately reflect on the options and possible outcomes,” she said. “It’s a balancing act against the often vivacious and spirited push that might be seen from an extrovert.”