Introverts Guide to the Workplace

Being an introvert, no matter the type of environment you are in, is going to be filled with internal clashes and possible conflict with your more extraverted colleagues.

As an introvert myself (INTJ) who has navigated the corporate environment, I want to give you some of my personal tips along with some tips from various other MBTI materials that will help make the workplace a better place for you.

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Understanding Extraverts

Carl Jung, in his original work, Psychological Types, spelled it Extraversion, which I will faithfully maintain.

We live in an E world. Though there is much debate over what the exact percentage of Introversion to Extraversion actually is, the official MBTI data shows it a dead heat. In the corporate environment, however, the ratio is skewed towards Extraverts. Starting with this as our foundation, we have to understand from the beginning that most people we’re going to deal with are not going to interact with the world the same way as us. That being said, here are a couple of things you will notice extraverts do that can disrupt your mood and your workflow.

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How Extraverts Act at Work (From the Introverts point-of-view)

• Chat incessantly about irrelevant things like what they did last weekend and what they will do this weekend
• Brainstorm out loud no matter who’s listening
• Stop by your desk and talk to you when you are clearly deep laser focused on work

This is how introverts interpret the actions of extroverts. However, this attitude creates a negative perception that is not actually real.

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Extroverts need to work their ideas out by bouncing them off other people. Brainstorming and throwing ideas around are standard actions that help E’s determine their plan of action. This process is completely foreign to I’s.

Introverts like to consult themselves and bounce things around in their head. Oftentimes you can catch them “self-talking” or debating themselves before coming to a conclusion about a plan of action. This fundamental difference in approach to life can be quite the annoyance to the introvert who just “needs a second to think about it!”

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Introverts get their energy from within, while extraverts get their energy from without. If you take this at face value, then you can see where the conflict will arise. Extraverts need to do things in a team setting and be in constant communication with others as it keeps them motivated to figure out what they’re going to do next.

Introvert Solutions

Once we understand how extraverts interact with the world, we can start implementing some solutions right away. I want to make it clear that all the literature tells us this could take a very long time to adopt and is not something that will change by next week.

• Schedule time in your day to do something outside of work away from the office. This could be listening to a podcast, listening to music, reading a book, or something that allows you to mull over things in your head.
• Re-frame your view that extraverts are purposely trying to annoy you. This is the hardest obstacle to hurdle, but it’s the most important one for progress to happen.
• Fake it! Try to emulate other extraverts or access your inner extravert (it’s in there somewhere) and strengthen that part of you that’s likely very weak.

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As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, poor communication is not a sign of intelligence, it’s a personality type difference. As soon as we learn to cater to our opposite type, we can relieve some of the stress and friction that exists in our workplace.

If you know someone who would benefit from MBTI counseling, please send them my way!

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