Finally get that promotion? Get exclusive content, tips and tools to help you excel.
Implicit bias occurs when individuals make judgments about people based on gender, race or other prohibited factors without even realizing they’re doing it.
Is your employee handbook keeping up with the changing world of work? With SHRM's Employee Handbook Builder get peace of mind that your handbook is up-to-date.
Build competencies, establish credibility and advance your career—while earning PDCs—at SHRM Seminars in 12 cities across the U.S. this spring.
#SHRM18 will expand your perspective – on your organization, on your career, and on the way you approach HR. Join us in Chicago June 17-20, 2018
The value of introverts in the workplace is often underestimated.
Members may download one copy of our sample forms and templates for your personal use within your organization. Please note that all such forms and policies should be reviewed by your legal counsel for compliance with applicable law, and should be modified to suit your organization’s culture, industry, and practices. Neither members nor non-members may reproduce such samples in any other way (e.g., to republish in a book or use for a commercial purpose) without SHRM’s permission. To request permission for specific items, click on the “reuse permissions” button on the page where you find the item.
You might say that corporate lawyer turned consultant and author Susan Cain has launched a not-so-silent revolution with her groundbreaking book,
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (Broadway Books, 2012). In the best-seller, the Princeton and Harvard Law School graduate asserts that Western culture tends to laud extroverts while undervaluing and misunderstanding introverts.
Shortly after the book’s release, Cain gained further accolades for her popular TED Talk on introverts, which has been viewed more than 5 million times. Since then, the book has won awards and been translated into 30 languages. Cain, a self-described introvert, lives in the Hudson River Valley region of New York with her husband and two sons.
Quiet describes introverts, extroverts and even ambiverts. How do you define each of those terms?
Introverts have a preference for lower-stimulation environments—for more quiet, for less noise, for less action. That’s where they feel most alive and most energized. In contrast, extroverts crave stimulation to feel at their best. This is why an introvert is more likely to enjoy a quiet glass of wine with a close friend than a loud, raucous party full of strangers. Many people believe that introversion is about being anti-social. That’s a misperception: Introverts are just
differently social. Ambiverts are smack in the middle of the introvert-extrovert spectrum.
What percentage of Americans are introverts?
The most recent study I know of, by the Center for Applications of Psychological Type in 1996, sampled 914,219 people and found that 50 percent were introverts.
What are the perceived strengths of introverts at work?
There’s a belief in the modern workplace that the most creative people—and the greatest leaders—are bold, alpha and gregarious, when in fact this is not always true. Many great business leaders are introverts—from Warren Buffett [Berkshire Hathaway] to Wendy Kopp [Teach For America] to Larry Page [Google].
Introverted leaders can often deliver better outcomes than extroverts, according to recently published research findings from Adam Grant, management professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Introverts solicit other people’s thoughts and allow the best ideas to reach the light of day.
And psychologists have found that the most creative people tend to have serious streaks of introversion—a preference to spend large chunks of time alone. This is because solitude is a crucial element of creativity. Producing deep and original work requires sitting still, thinking, strategizing.
Introverts are also careful thinkers who look before they leap. In an economic culture that encourages people to take too many unwarranted risks, we clearly need introverts.
What are potential disadvantages of being an introvert?
The disadvantages are familiar: The modern workplace requires a lot of "putting yourself out there," and that can push introverts out of their comfort zones. Extroverts are more likely to seize the day, to "just do it." In Grant’s research, extroverted leaders outperform introverts when it’s necessary to rally the troops and inspire people.
What possible challenges exist for introverts and extroverts when they work together?
Introverts like to think before they speak, and sometimes they feel frustrated by meetings that happen very quickly and in what can feel to them an unconsidered way. Extroverts, on the other hand, can feel understandably frustrated when introverts take so much time to think things through that they don’t share their ideas.
Yet introverts and extroverts need each other, depend on each other. When they understand each other and work together respectfully, you see yin and yang at its best.
How can HR help introverts thrive and contribute in the workplace?
This is such an important question. Here are a few tips:
What other advice do you have for introverts—and others—on the job?
Live in accordance with your natural temperament. Set up a career that really suits you. Extroverts need to act more introverted when they sit down to write a memo, even if they’d rather be chatting with their colleagues. Introverts have to stretch when they attend cocktail parties and meetings. But we all must return to what psychologist Brian Little calls our "restorative niches"—the places where we can relax and truly be ourselves.
Donna M. Owens is a freelance writer based in Baltimore.
You have successfully saved this page as a bookmark.
Please confirm that you want to proceed with deleting bookmark.
You have successfully removed bookmark.
Please log in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please sign in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please purchase a SHRM membership before saving bookmarks.
An error has occurred
Recommended for you
HR Education in a City Near You
SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 3,200 companies