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These are the false beliefs we still hold about introverts and extroverts

You don’t have to be solidly one or the other. On this week’s episode of Secrets of the Most Productive People, we learn the real ways introverts and extroverts operate in the workplace.

These are the false beliefs we still hold about introverts and extroverts
[Photo: Thomas Barwick/iStock]

Of all of our outmoded beliefs about personality, the ideas about what introverts and extroverts are like are some of the most persistent. For instance, I think of myself as naturally introverted. Left to my own devices, I’d prefer to have dinner with close friends, or read a book alone. However, I regularly engage in what most people would categorize as pretty extroverted behavior: leading big meetings, moderating panels, interviewing people from all walks of life, and I’m pretty comfortable doing those things.

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This kind of dual behavior is pretty common. Most people don’t fit neatly into one “introvert” or “extrovert” box. Even people who like myself feel pretty solidly in one camp, can still have traits that we often associate with the other. For example, it’s not uncommon for extroverts to feel shy. Still, workplaces have recognized extroverts as “natural” leaders for generations.

So if you feel like an introvert, how can you get noticed at work? Here are three quick tips:

How introverts can get noticed at work

1. Leverage your powers of observation. Introverts generally tend to be better listeners and more keen observers than extroverts. So use those tendencies to know when someone is losing interest or to ask the right questions to find out what really matters to your boss, colleagues, or clients.

2. Understand how to plan around your work style. If you’re an an introverted leader, you’re probably not naturally good at always being visible, and holding lots of meetings. So try not to crowd calendar with more meetings than you can handle so that you can be on and be your best when it matters and not end up with “meeting fatigue.”

3. Lean on your research skills. A lot of introverts are good at digging deep into research, which is useful is lots of work situations. Coming to a meeting armed with some background info will make you look more prepared and give you something solid to talk about if you’d naturally feel hesitant to speak up.

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On this week’s episode of Secrets of the Most Productive People, we talked to Susan Cain, author of the best-selling book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, about what people are still getting wrong about introverts and extroverts, and how both managers and employees can change their work environment to make it work best for everyone.

You can find the episode on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherSpotifyRadioPublic, or wherever you get your podcasts. Are you an introvert, an extrovert, or somewhere in between? Tell us using the hashtag #FCMostProductive and click here to subscribe to Secrets of the Most Productive People so you don’t miss an episode.

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About the author

Kathleen Davis is Deputy Editor at FastCompany.com. Previously, she has worked as an editor at Entrepreneur.com, WomansDay.com and Popular Photography magazine.

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