Potential Recipe for Professional Disaster Or an Opportunity for Personal Growth?
Introvert. Wallflower. Cerebral. A thinker. That’s what people call us. We’re quiet. Analytical. Thoughtful. In control of our emotions (at least those we express to the outside world anyway). But what happens when you find yourself working under someone who is the complete opposite? How do you, an introvert, work successfully under an extrovert?
Susan Cain wrote an interesting book a few years ago called Quiet: The Power of Introverts In a World that Can’t Stop Talking. This was really one of the first books to address introversion as a powerful tool we can tap into to improve our personal and professional lives. The skillset that’s often portrayed as detrimental, comical, or quirky is the exact same skill set we can use to really succeed, get better jobs, and build our wealthy lives.
Susan gave an interview to Time Magazine in which she discussed multiple ways introverted employers can not only relate to their extroverted bosses but really prosper under this strangely symbiotic relationship.
Three Strategies to Get Along
The first is to communicate regularly.
Introverts are often the type of people that take projects and run with them, often only asking for help or advice when it’s needed. We don’t often appreciate having to give status updates—especially when there’s nothing new to report. However, extroverts want (or really need) that extra communication that may make us uncomfortable.
“It’s really helpful to understand that extroverts prize frequent communication,”
Cain says it’s in our best interest to go so far as to schedule regular check ins to ensure our extrovert friends that everything is okay, on track, and under control.
The second is similar: express your enthusiasm.
Again, we’re working nose to the grindstone with our eyes on the prize. It doesn’t make sense for us to get all touchy-feely about the process. But that can often come off as us being disengaged with te project (or the company) and may paint a pretty dark picture of us as someone who doesn’t really give a crap.
Cain says we should look for ways to express that enthusiasm in an honest way. For example, you could pick out one component of a project or one company policy that you really like and express your admiration through volunteering to take on responsibilities associated with it.
Lastly, you need to tell your boss what you need.
We are often fooled into assuming that others know what’s going on in our heads. We’re logical and put things together like a giant Lego set. Extroverts don’t often work that way. What seems like a logical step for us may seem like a huge leap to them. You need to speak up!
How Communication Can Be Your Secret Weapon to Professional Advancement
In short, building a solid relationship between you and your extroverted boss boils down to communication. It’s uncomfortable, seems unnecessary, and often feels counterproductive. However, when you commit to that level of professional relationship, your boss will appreciate it.
In fact, most extroverted managers love to see their introverted employees really break out of that shell and promote themselves. Why? Because it appears (and rightly so) that their tutelage or mentorship has really taken root.
The one thing that a lot of introverts forget in a professional environment is that they are they’re best (and sometimes only) advocate. It is absolutely necessary that we engage in self-promotion or (as one of my bosses used to call it) tell our stories. It doesn’t matter how hard you work, how productive you are, or how much value you bring to the company if nobody realizes it.
We need to build those lateral and vertical relationships with our peers, our supervisors, and our boss’s boss. People need to know our names and what we bring to the table.
So put on your expressive face and start communicating!
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