There are few things more daunting to an introvert than a crowded bullpen. The classic open workspace layout, with nary a cubicle wall in sight, is an unnerving scenario that can cripple one’s ability to communicate well, be creative, and be an effective employee in general. And yet, far too often, introverts are forced to function under these stifling conditions.
Simply put, the corporate world is designed for extroverts, which also makes it a world in which introverts must learn how to function in a perpetually uphill battle.
But that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. When an introvert can learn how to survive and even thrive in the workplace, they can often shine. In fact, studies have shown that when introverts participate in collaborative workplace opportunities, they often end up not just being effective but preferred over their extroverted coworkers, as they provide a level of focus and productivity that doesn’t flag over the duration of a project.
However, just because they’re preferred doesn’t mean introverts have it easy. If you’re an introvert looking for ways to survive those exhausting, draining days in the bullpen, here are a few tips to keep you refreshed and on your A-game.
First and foremost is communication. An introvert who knows how to properly communicate is set up for success. And we’re not just talking about how to write concise emails or how to churn out the best sales copy. When you also take the time to learn about how people interact within the workplace as well, it gives you a unique advantage.
Understanding communication styles can help introverts grasp the deeper meaning behind a comment or conversation and allow them to better navigate workplace relationships. It enables them to more accurately understand others. They can diagnose, for example, when an extroverted coworker is using an aggressive form of communication and why. In addition, it can help them learn how to avoid passive or passive-aggressive behavior themselves and communicate in a healthy, assertive manner instead.
As you learn about how to communicate better, also consider taking time to purposefully reach out to coworkers throughout the workday. Introverts don’t tend to be naturally inclined to interact with others and engage in small talk. Making a habit out of regularly talking to others (at least for a portion of each day) can establish relationships and make communication more natural.
You have skills. That’s likely why you were hired in the first place. With the cost of hiring an employee being as high as $7,645, you can bet that you were hired with careful consideration regarding your abilities.
It’s easy for introverts to sit on the sidelines and let others jump into problem-solving, brainstorming, or any other collaborative efforts in the workplace. But that’s not the way it has to be. Remember your value and that, even if you don’t feel worthy to offer your two cents, you absolutely are qualified to do so.
Create is the key word here. If the default workspace you have available is an open-floor workspace filled with a bustle and distractions that make working difficult, you may want to consider proactively looking for alternatives.
Consider talking to a boss about the need for a quieter space. Rather than being apologetic, be bold about the request. Communicate to them that a quieter work environment is part of the formula for you to get the best work done. Communicating like this can be particularly helpful if you have an extroverted boss who doesn’t understand the need for a quieter workspace with fewer distractions. See if there’s an empty office or meeting room that you can use for a portion of each day or explore the option for part of your work to be done remotely.
Emotional labor is, in essence, the idea of compartmentalizing one’s emotions in order to be productive and effective at work. An example of this is a healthcare professional like a nurse, who regularly has to process things like pain and death while still effectively working their job and living their life outside of the workplace. When the draining effects of emotional labor are left unattended to, it can lead to emotional labor burnout.
While some people are more likely to suffer than others due to the nature of their occupation, all introverts — especially those working in busy, extrovert-oriented workspaces — are prone to suffer from emotional labor as they navigate the stresses and strains of each day. Being aware of the effects of emotional labor and keeping an eye out for the symptoms of burnout can help you effectively maintain your emotional health.
These symptoms include many common things like:
- Chronic fatigue
If you notice these symptoms piling up, you may want to consider taking a break from work, spending some time focused on self-care, or sharing your feelings with a confidant, all of which lead to the final tip: recharging.
Whether you’re heading to a crowded office each day, interacting with extroverted coworkers, or coming off of an exhausting work trip, it’s important for an introvert to take the time to recharge.
The emotional and physical strain of navigating an extroverted work scenario can exact a heavy toll, as things like proper communication and emotional labor can be draining on a regular basis. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re taking the time to withdraw and properly rest.
The way you do this should be uniquely tailored to your own needs. Read a book, take a nap, go for a hike on your own, play video games, and so on. Take the time to find what works best for you. Whatever way you recharge best, make sure you take the time to do so as a regularly planned activity, as it can be critical to your long-term productivity and success.
If, like so many others, you find yourself functioning as an introvert in an extroverted workplace, it’s crucial that you take the time to set yourself up to thrive. After all, muscling through each workday is not a recipe for success.
However, if you take the time to explore options to better your situation, it can help empower you to turn a difficult situation into one that is tailored to your own strengths and tendencies. From advocating for quieter workspaces to learning about communication styles, emotional labor, and your own need to rest, taking the time to find better ways to navigate through an extroverted workspace is well worth the effort.
Image Source: Pixabay
Frankie Wallace is a blogger from Boise, Idaho and a recent graduate from the University of Montana. Wallace contributes to a variety of different blogs online and focuses on writing about career advice.
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