Introverts, own your shyness

 Dr. Helgoe Credit: Provided
Dr. Helgoe
Credit: Provided

With her 2008 book — “Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life is Your Hidden Strength” — Dr. Laurie Helgoe celebrated introverts and their power to develop rich, complex inner lives. But in today’s hyper-friendly, team-centric workplace, introverts often find their natural inclinations less than encouraged. A new edition of “Introvert Power” was recently released, with analysis of the latest studies on the psychology of inward-looking personalities. We asked Dr. Helgoe to tell us about the her findings.

Is the American workplace geared toward extroverts?
Today’s work culture tends to be an extrovert-centric. There is an emphasis on processing things as teams. Brainstorming, which is a very extroverted process — thinking aloud about ideas — is a disconnect for someone who likes to form ideas privately.
How can introversion be used to your advantage?
Being honest is a good start. Sometimes introverts feel pressure to act extroverted, pretend they like social events and the high level of social stimulation. But when they finally say they need some quiet to get work done, people respect that. At some point the work has to get done, and introverts have an advantage in tolerating the solitude that is often required for that.
What leadership style best suits an introvert?
There was a groundbreaking study a couple years ago that found that introverts lead more productive teams when they’re supervising proactive people. They were able to encourage the good ideas from their employees. Introvert leaders require less attention, so they’re more willing to let the attention spread out.

How should managers reward their introverted employees?

Don’t throw them a party. A gift certificate for a massage is always lovely.


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