The Benefits Of Being Introverted At Work

working with introverts

By Sonia Acosta

Can you go an entire workday without saying a word? Does it mean you're an ineffective employee, you don't like your co-workers, or you don't have anything meaningful to say? Of course not. You're probably just an introvert, or you're more reserved at work than in your personal life. You might be more productive when working alone, but you're still capable of contributing in a team setting.
Unfortunately, sometimes people make negative assumptions about quiet workers. Here we bust seven myths about introverted worker.

Myth No. 1: Quiet workers don't have a lot to offer.
While this is a common misconception, quiet workers don't necessarily contribute less in a working environment than their chattier counterparts. Maya Townsend, founder of Boston-based management-consulting firm Partnering Resources, says that people often think that quiet workers are incapable of being credible sources of knowledge or serving as experts for an organization.

"Recently, I conducted an organizational network analysis with a client," Townsend says. "The leaders were surprised to discover that one of their quietest employees was actually deeply trusted and relied upon by his peers. He knew his stuff, and while he wasn't flashy about it, he was there when people needed him."

More:Best Careers For Extroverts

Myth No. 2: Quiet workers are shy.

People often assume that quiet workers are shy. In reality, the way people behave at work doesn't necessarily reflect how they behave in their personal lives. Also, being quiet doesn't always originate from shyness.

Kera Greene, a career counselor at FEGS, a health and human services provider based in New York, says it's not about being shy; it's about different personality types. "Quiet people are not necessarily shy. They may be introverts," Greene says. "Introverts prefer to work by themselves. They think better, work more efficiently and get energized that way. Extroverts accomplish the same goals by interacting with people. Shyness, or lack thereof, may actually have nothing to do with it."

Myth No. 3: Quiet workers aren't social.

Quiet workers are often perceived as antisocial or as having few friends outside of work. If you're quiet at work, you might be the total opposite when you leave the office. While you may keep to yourself in a professional setting, your friends might consider you outgoing and quirky.

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The Benefits Of Being Introverted At Work

Software engineer is a career that frequently appears on many best jobs lists with good reason, as more workplace functions are technologically driven. Software engineers are those geeky folks that come up with the computer programs and games that people the world over have come to love. And it's a good thing, too, that they don't mind a bit of isolation, seeing as writing code -- for perhaps hours on end -- can be a solitary enterprise.

Median annual salary: $92,530*

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Perhaps the archetypal introvert job, accountants examine financial records and help ensure they are accurate and that any payments, including taxes, are paid. It can take a bit of putting-the-nose-to-the-grindstone concentration to ensure the job is done right -- and on time.

Median annual salary: $61,690*

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Market research analyst isn't a title that rolls off the tongue, but it's a profession that many employers consider pivotal. Market research analysts help companies to know where and how to sell their products. The job requires a high degree of focus to ensure that information is accurate for the market -- local, regional or national -- being targeted. Generally, market researchers spend much of their day in front of computers, collecting and analyzing marketing data and preparing reports.

Median annual salary: $60,570*

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Yet another computer-related job, the graphic design field has its roots in another activity ideal for introverts -- drawing. Graphic designers take ideas and convert them into visual creations, either on paper or computers. Their work can help companies build a memorable brand through the use of color, shape and size (corporate logos are an example) that can captivate consumers -- or, if done poorly, alienate them.

Median annual salary: $43,500*

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To some, the job of translator may be a surprising entry on this list. Yes, translators are involved in communications, but because translators work with the written word (unlike their verbal counterparts, interpreters), they may spend hours poring over texts, ensuring that the meaning is being accurately translated from one language to another. Many in this profession enjoy the autonomy that is an integral part of job, a feature that particularly appeals to introverts.

Median annual salary: $43,300*

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It takes a special kind of person to respond to the myriad medical emergencies that human beings can find themselves in. People's lives often rely on the efforts of emergency medical technicians, or EMTs, first responders who must quickly assess medical emergencies and determine the best course of action, including giving aid and transporting injured patients to hospitals.

Median annual salary: $30,360*

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You might wonder why dental hygienists, who  spend the bulk of their days cleaning teeth, might need a gregarious personality. But an outgoing demeanor can go a long way toward relaxing anxious patients, particularly children or those who fail to heed repeated advice about the importance of regular brushing and flossing. Nearly all in this field work in dental offices and they work closely with other staff, including, of course, dentists.

Median annual salary: $68,250*

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A physical therapist is another health professional whose upbeat personality can help people who have sustained injuries improve movement and manage pain. An outgoing, positive attitude can be infectious, inspiring patients to continue along a path of recovery despite sometimes daunting odds.

Median annual salary: $76,310*

-- Find physical therapist jobs

Public relations managers are responsible for handling the public image of organizations or people. That typically means spending a lot of time interacting with members of the news media, who can be prickly and ask tough questions. Being able to build relationships is key. It's a position that requires collaborating with co-workers and clients -- and an ability to sell cogent messages to the public.

Median annual salary: $57,550*

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By definition a people-focused profession, human-resource specialists help to hire and train new employees and resolve issues affecting current staff. Those and other duties often require hours of "face time" with new recruits and existing employees, giving extroverts a leg up in this often demanding profession.

Median annual salary: $52,690*

-- Find human resource jobs

Myth No. 4: Quiet workers dislike their co-workers.

If you're on the quieter side at work, it doesn't mean you dislike your colleagues. It's just a personality trait. Quiet people tend to communicate differently than outgoing people and have different comfort levels when it comes to social interaction.

Myth No. 5: Quiet workers think they're better than everyone else.

Quiet workers may be perceived as snotty, but they might just be quiet. If you're an office extrovert, make an effort to get to know quieter co-workers. Try not to interpret their quiet nature as a negative quality. You might be surprised about how well you can work with them once you let go of assumptions and gain their trust.

Myth No. 6: Quiet workers are insecure.

Quiet workers often get labeled as insecure about their skills. Being quiet is more of a personality trait and a comfort-level preference than a sign of low self-worth. Some workers let their work speak for itself, instead of bragging about their achievements. If extroverts pay enough attention, they will find that their quieter co-workers' contributions are on par with others in the organization.

More:'Likeonomics': Will Being Likable Make You More Employable?

Myth No. 7: Quiet people don't make good leaders.

According to Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, executive coach and author of "The Introverted Leader," 40 percent of executives are introverts. "Introverts tend to be humble and not brag about themselves," she says. "They also take time to process their thoughts and are then incorrectly seen as slow or not 'go-getters.' We still hold a stereotype in Western cultures that leaders need to be aggressive and have Type-A personalities."

To better showcase their leadership skills, Kahnweiler suggests that quiet workers focus on increasing their visibility. "Introverts can gain presence in a way that honors their personal style," she says. "Writing email updates to key influencers with status reports and accomplishments is one way to keep yourself visible."

Networking and expanding the number of people you work with will also help increase your visibility. "I recommend to my introverted coaching clients that they look for opportunities to work with people in other functional areas of the company," Kahnweiler says. "Business-resource groups for different special interests groups, local branches of professional associations and community projects also offer you a wider network that you can build on."

Introverts can also use social media to express themselves professionally and gain exposure. "With the thoughtful use of social media to share relevant information, introverts can gain a strong professional presence online," Kahnweiler says. "These impressions count. Using social media as the platform to begin relationships is excellent for introverts who thrive in solitude."

Sonia Acosta researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder.

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