Five Tips to Help Entry-Level Introverts Succeed at Work
The people who know the night owl in me will laugh at this, but it’s true: In my first job after college, I quickly learned to show up for work at 7 a.m. -- or even before -- and work until 3:30 or 4 p.m. instead of coming in later at 8:30 a.m. and working until 5 p.m. Why? Because as an introvert, I relished the 90 minutes or so of relative peace and quiet I could find early in the morning, before anyone else -- besides my introverted boss -- arrived.
Coming into the office ahead of the crowd -- before the inevitable phone calls and emails started -- was just one of many introvert-friendly strategies I used to give myself the best chance of succeeding in that all-important first job. You can play to your own introverted strengths and preferences as well, beginning on your first day. Here’s how.
Take People Up on Their Offers
Especially in your first few days on the job, your boss and colleagues will likely offer to introduce you around the office, ask you to join them for lunch or a drink after work, or gauge whether you’re interested in playing on the company’s softball team.
Say yes whenever you can. Sure, you’ll have to spend some energy in the process, but it’s better than burning up even more energy trying to network within the company all by yourself.
“Play the ‘new kid on the block’ angle to the fullest,” advises business communication coach Nancy Ancowitz, author of Self-Promotion for Introverts.
Find Ways to Work in Silence When Necessary
There is perhaps nothing harder for the typical introvert than working in a noisy environment, where coworkers are prone to stop by just to stay hi. So when need be, go somewhere you can block out or eliminate distractions.
“Find a quiet spot in your workplace where you can concentrate better, such as a conference room or the company cafeteria during off-hours,” suggests Ancowitz.
Take Introvert Breaks a Few Times a Day
Believe it or not, the restroom can be an introvert’s best friend. So can a quick trip to the copy machine, a step outside or even some soft music.
“Allow yourself to recharge your energy during the day,” Ancowitz says. “As an introvert, you may not be well-suited to back-to-back meetings and constant conversations. [So] find time to step out of the office, even for a walk around the block, to gather your thoughts and refuel before your next meeting.”
Volunteer for Introvert-Friendly Tasks
Every organization has solitary tasks that require high levels of focus, concentration and endurance. While most extroverts hate this stuff, why not offer to take these tasks on yourself, helping the company and your sanity at the same time?
Does the company need new market research on prospective customers? A 25-page annual report? A complete reorganization of its client files? If the project calls for depth and patience, it’s probably a good fit for you -- and you’ll be viewed as a hero if you’re willing to take it on when nobody else is.
Let People Know You’re an Introvert
It may not always seem like it, but many people in today’s world of work are familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality-assessment tool and the whole concept of introversion. So don’t be afraid to say things like “I need to find an introvert spot” to your coworkers. Most of them will actually understand.