Introverts are not as rare as you might think. At least one-third of people we know of are Introverts. However, a cloud of misperception surrounds the idea of introversion, and they are profoundly labelled “quiet”. Not many of the extroverts, or to simply put, socially adept people realise that all great contributors in the history of mankind have been “introverts”.
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According to Susan Cain, the author of best-selling book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, introversion is the greatest strength. These are the people who prefer a quiet and comfortable environment over parties. They like to spend most of their time and energy innovating and creating. From Albert Einstein to Bill Gates and Van Ghosh, read back and you’ll realise that all of these great contributors possessed natural powers of persistence, concentration, and insight. Their attitude towards life made them deep thinkers and problem solvers.
“Our culture is biased against quiet and reserved people, but introverts are responsible for some of humanity’s greatest achievements.”
~from the book, Quiet - Power of Introverts in a World that can’t stop Talking
Fast forward, as a leader or a business person, you might notice a lot of introverts in your team. Pushing them to work out of bounds or encouraging them to act like extroverts, will mean making a man learn how to live as a woman. This is not going to help. What would work is giving them the freedom and time to tap into their highest potential, which they can utilise to help your business grow leaps and bounds. Introverts can bring tremendous value to a business if you can learn to utilise the incalculable power of introverts.
Remember, introverts have a more focussed attitude towards work and are better listeners with great analytical skills as compared to their extrovert counterparts. This is how you can make your introvert workforce turn into star employees:
Understand who they are
Introverts might not be the ones who can socialise frantically. They might not even be good at word of mouth marketing of your products and business. And might not even openly communicate their ideas and opinions in a meeting. This is where you need to understand their way of life. If you think you have a few introverts in your team, who might have some great ideas to share, create an open forum or a platform, where everyone can write down their opinions and views without being judged by one another. Introverts do not possess the desire to be recognised or be the most popular. Their dedication is solely towards the quality of their work. Give them a platform where they can express freely. Your benefit? You get to enjoy the best of both the worlds - both inside and outside the meeting room.
Not a fan of surprises
It’s a bad move to take an introvert by surprise. Thus, don’t plan last minute meetings with an introvert. Make a schedule, plan it out, and let them know about the meeting in advance so they are mentally prepared for it. This will also increase their participation during the meeting. Most introverts prefer carrying notes that they can read about aloud while pitting their points across. This is mainly to avoid any kind of eye contact or unexpected questions. This could be the sign to identify the introvert in the team though. By ensuring their comfort and giving them time to brainstorm, you can expect some good work floating around the table.
“Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured.”
Provide them with comfortable workspace
Introverts cannot function in an open space workspace where each and every person can barge into their territory. A situation where two people share the same desk, or sitting close to each other, could be a nightmare for an introvert. They prefer a quieter, distraction-free space to work such as large cubicles, cabin spaces, or even work from home.
Delegate work according to their traits
An introvert has an eye for details. Therefore, you know whom to call whenever you have a task related to analytics and detailed functioning. They might seem aloof and self-contained on the outside, but their inner landscape is full of drama. Give them a deadline and absolute autonomy over the project, while you sit back and watch them deliver excellent results.
Hear them out
Introverts will be able to share their opinions better if you talk to them face to face. They might not be able to point out the design flaws and offer solutions in a room full of eyes staring at them. So, talk to them in private. Give them some of your time and hear their ideas out. One on one meeting can help them set agenda and create an environment so comfortable that they choose to “come out of their shell”.
Take one step at a time, and you will realise that introverts can bring a lot of value to your business. Many of the famous business leaders today are introverts. All you need to do is stop treating them as different, understand their strengths, and help them build a comfortable environment to work in.