How to Be More Effective: Tips for Introverts

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how to work with introverts. Not to be one-sided, this post will provide some tips for introverts. After all, the world doesn’t have to cater to the needs of introverts. These tips are in the form of actions an introvert can take to work more effectively with others – be it introverts or extraverts.

Before I get into it, I again want to emphasize that introversion is a personality trait that stays stable throughout your life – and it is simply that. It is not something to be overcome. That being said, to be an effective leader, you must be able to adapt your style to attain the outcomes you want. Changing some behavioral patterns can be one of those small things that can have a big impact.

Introverts often need some time to work through a difficult problem or think things over before coming to a decision. Since people are not mind readers, this can sometimes be misunderstood. Extraverts—by definition who process information by talking—may mistakenly think that an introvert is indecisive, slow, lacking in social skills, or unwilling to collaborate. It is our human nature to make such judgments. It is unfair, but you can be proactive in managing the impressions that others have of you.

Create Alone Time

One thing you may or may not already do is to create breaks for yourself. You may do this reactively, as in, after you get overwhelmed. But you can be deliberate about it and prevent overwhelm in the first place. If your days are packed with interactions with others, insert breaks into your schedule.

For example, don’t schedule calls back-to-back – give yourself half an hour in between to process the things that were discussed, catch up on email, or read an article. Instead of skipping happy hour altogether, just show up thirty minutes late so you don’t miss out on important team bonding time. You can also plan quiet time before and after important meetings so that you can contribute without experiencing burnout.

Quick tips to be more effective:

  • Write question down. This will facilitate your thought process because now you are interacting with a task/item rather than a person.
  • Buy yourself some time: “Hmm, that’s a good question.” or “Let me think…” By doing this, you indicate to others to wait a second while you think it over.
  • Ask, “Can I email that to you?” You can then provide the answer through the medium that puts you in the best light.
  • Say, “I have some great ideas on that – let’s get together tomorrow to discuss further.” This will give you extra time to gather your thoughts.
  • Take notes during meetings. This will show that you are engaged even if you are not actively speaking up all the time.
  • Don’t apologize for being an introvert.

Eva Rykrsmith

Eva Rykrsmith is an organizational psychology practitioner. Her passion lies in bringing a psychology perspective to the business world, with the mission of creating a high-performance environment. Follow her @EvaRykr.

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  • Cary

    OK I think this article provides some good advice. However what I'd really like to see is productivity/interaction tips aimed at extroverts. I get a little fed up with so much advice being aimed at introverts as if extroverts don't have any behaviors that can hinder them.

    [Reply]

    Frallen2002 Reply:

    Interesting point.  I’m an introvert, and perhaps I’ve been guilty of thinking of extroverted people as overly-cocky and unaware of behaviors that can hinder them.  But you clearly counter that stereotype  (not sure if you are saying you consider yourself an extrovert, are pointing out that extroverts are capable of being self-perceptive, or what, but as I struggle with being introverted, I should be more sensitive to the idea that extroverts may be struggling too.)  How might an extrovert perceive the struggles he or she is up against in trying to adapt to productivity/interaction expectations in a work-setting? 

    [Reply]

    Anon Reply:

    As an introvert, I am very interested to know which behaviours can hinder extroverts. I know that both introverts and extroverts can be shy and/or socially anxious, which may be one of the problems you speak of, but would you mind giving me some other examples? Thanks.

    [Reply]

  • http://twitter.com/evarykr Eva Rykr

    Good point and thanks for the topic suggestion! Stay tuned for the article.

    [Reply]

  • Jerry Brower

    Great guidelines and encouraging words for the introvert.  Being an introvert myself, I can see where different methods need to be employed in order to achieve the same results as the extrovert.  But, it is possible to succeed, in spite of the common stereotype given to the introvert.  We definitely have our strong points. We just need to know how to recognize them and learn how to use them.  Social skills will become more natural if you are persistent at practicing them.  I also found some other great free tips on networking at:    http://relationshipcapital.co/op/?utm_src=bl

    [Reply]

  • Jerry Brower

    Great guidelines and encouraging words for the introvert.  Being an introvert myself, I can see where different methods need to be employed in order to achieve the same results as the extrovert.  But, it is possible to succeed, in spite of the common stereotype given to the introvert.  We definitely have our strong points. We just need to know how to recognize them and learn how to use them.  Social skills will become more natural if you are persistent at practicing them.  I also found some other great free tips on networking at:    http://relationshipcapital.co/op/?utm_src=bl

    [Reply]

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  • a psychologist

    With all due respect, you seem to view introversion as some sort of handicap to be overcome. You clearly don’t understand the concept, and you are perpetuating misconceptions. Go read Jung, Eysenck, Costa & McRae, and a few others. Then get back to us with an INFORMED article.

    [Reply]

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