We tend to think about workplace diversity and inclusion mainly in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, and similar elements. But to truly create a sense of belonging and support, an organization can also embrace (you guessed it) different personality types! Just like the world is primarily designed for right-handed people, many work environments tend to favour extroverted qualities unintentionally. Because of this, introverts often struggle to feel welcome, showcase what they have to offer, and rise through the ranks like their outwardly genial counterparts. Today, we’re sharing four ways to make your workplace and networking more introvert-friendly!
Debunking 5 Common Myths About Introverts
“Introvert” is an umbrella term for people “predominantly concerned with their thoughts and feelings rather than with external things” (Oxford Dictionary). While this means they generally prefer their own company, it does not mean that:
❎ They’re Shy
Shyness and introvertedness aren’t automatically synonymous. Many introverts are some of the most confident people you’ll ever meet; they just prefer to process their thoughts quietly and internally.
❎ They Don’t Like to Talk, Socialize or Have Friends
Sure they do! After all, human beings are social creatures by nature. Introverts would just rather have a few very close relationships than a crowd of acquaintances. That’s why you might observe them skimming the small talk in large groups and coming alive during one-on-one conversations where they get to talk about stuff that matters to them. They need their alone time like they need oxygen, but also enjoy quality time with close friends!
❎ They Can’t Work Effectively in Groups
They absolutely can. But introverts need time and space to process their thoughts and present them effectively. While you should definitely ask for their opinions during meetings, expecting them to spout perfectly composed ideas on the spot may not work so well. Introverts with a strong ethic have mastered the art of internal workflow and will get the job done when given room.
❎ They Can’t Lead Or Be Assertive
Rosa Parks (who famously stood against bigotry), Bill Gates (one of the founders of the world’s largest software empire), and many others would beg to differ! Introverts spend a lot of time on internal reflection and analysis, so many develop powerful self-awareness, logic, problem-solving, communication, innovation, empathy, and other leadership skills over time.
❎ They’re Stuck Up or High-Maintenance
Introverts don’t typically wear their hearts on their sleeves or express emotion very readily, but that doesn’t mean they’re not nice or friendly. If one likes you, best believe that they’re silently sending good vibes and blessings for your life’s journey!
4 Tweaks To Make A Welcoming Introvert-Friendly Workplace
Okay, so now that we’ve cleared that up, what are some ways to create introvert-friendly spaces that integrate introverts into the workplace more effectively?
Educate Coaches, Mentors, and Hiring Managers
It’s essential to make it a point to train the leaders and decision-makers in your company to actively consider the different personality types present among their teams and hiring candidates. This will help them craft the right approach to handling interactions with each individual, supporting them in group settings, and coaching them along their career development paths. Try this workshop about voice and body language to learn how to communicate well with all types of people. You can also always throw a bit of YouTube humour into the mix!
Tailor Feedback and Career Development Appropriately
When providing feedback to an introvert or evaluating them for promotions, focus on what truly matters: output and performance. While several jobs may require vibrant characteristics, in most cases, a quieter disposition does not prevent someone from carrying out their duties effectively. In fact, for introverts, it amplifies their productivity and work quality! Therefore, their level of sociability should not enter the equation during a performance assessment (unless that was part of the job description!).
Design Your Space to Accommodate their Work Styles & Preferences
Every introvert knows the feeling of having to retreat into the bathroom to find some solitude during the workday. Design your office with their needs in mind by creating focus pods, coffee corners, or other quiet spaces where they can work uninterrupted for a few hours a day. If the possibilities within your current area feel limited, consider working with a consultant to help you reimagine this introvert-friendly space.
Rethink Social Events
Social events can get tricky for introverts, but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy them! Here are a few tips to get a more inclusive and introvert-friendly event:
- Organize smaller events. Office parties with the whole gang are great but not necessary every time. Consider setting up smaller team activities here and there as introverts find these events far less draining.
- Set up multiple recharge spots at in-person events. Give introverts spaces to take regular breaks in between conversations. This can look like setting up multiple refreshment tables, small seated areas, or quiet rooms.
- Take the stress out of icebreakers. Small talk is usually not an introvert’s strong suit. One way around this is to use name tags with talking prompts to help everyone locate people they can quickly establish common ground with.
- Keep inviting them. While introverts may not always accept invitations, they still appreciate the thought as it makes them feel remembered and understood!
Make Workplaces Cordial For All
A friendly reminder before we wrap up: one personality type is not superior to another! These are just some things to keep in mind as your company recruits talent and builds its teams. For more ideas to create a work environment that everyone can enjoy and thrive in, check out our article on fostering togetherness through team activities!