Written by: Carlee Linden | Best Company Editorial Team
Last Updated: February 24th, 2020
As an introverted English major in college, I realized that most people had preconceived ideas about me. In their eyes, I was a shy homebody who struggled with social interactions, had a depressed outlook on life, and preferred the settings and characters in my novels to the real world.
They concluded that I would struggle to get a job. After all, don’t companies want employees who are quick-witted, outgoing, team-players who will confidently voice their personal thoughts and opinions.
Fortunately, I was able to prove them wrong. After graduation, I found a company that appreciated my introverted disposition. Introverts are an excellent resource for any company — although the way they work may need to be modified from conventional office practices.
We asked several experts in the industry their thoughts and insights on hiring introverted employees:
“There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.” — Susan Cain
“Utilize different methods for getting input and feedback from employees or team members of projects. Often times, it's the quiet voice in the room that has the best solution. For example, in a traditional brainstorm session. Extroverts will more often blurt out answers quickly and crowd out the voice of the introvert who's carefully considering their answers. Vary the brainstorm's structure to have folks think and write their ideas and then go around the room and let each person share a new idea.” — Eli Howayeck, Founder and CEO of Crafted Career Concepts
“They likely have something to say, but don't want to compete for airtime with their more dynamic coworkers.” — Maryna Shkvorets, Persuasive Speaking Coach
“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” — Mahatma Gandhi
“Assign or provide leadership building tasks (such as supervising or mentoring). One of the superpowers of introverts is their empathy and understanding.” — J.Kelly Hoey, Build Your Dream Network
“Introverts think and act differently than their extroverted counterparts. A company's internal employees, external partners, and clients represent a range of styles, backgrounds, geographies, and traits. Companies are smart to reflect that diversity in their workforce. In the same way that a leader wants a "team of rivals" to present different views and perspective, companies that value and appreciate diverse backgrounds, experience, and personal styles tend to innovate more and enjoy above average results.” — Eli Howayeck, Founder and CEO of Crafted Career Concepts
“I wish, as well as everybody else, to be perfectly happy; but like everybody else, it must be in my own way.” — Jane Austen
“Where productivity and a specialized skill are important, having introverts that feel comfortable and supported doing their thing the way they like it can be immensely valuable in terms of output and productivity.” — Nikki Hallgrimsdottir, algo.ai
“Companies can communicate to introverts that they value them by investing in them on an individual level. Leaders should strive to understand each person they lead, whether introverted or extroverted, as a unique person. They can meet with each person on their team and form a close, one-on-one, reciprocal relationship with them. The best way to show introverts you value them is the same way to show anyone you value them — treat them like a person with unique needs, desires, and goals.” — Bekka Erks Byrne, Leadership Consultant with Talent Plus, Inc.
“I went as an observer, not a participant, for I do not think I ever spoke. I wanted to understand the issues under discussion, evaluate the arguments, see the caliber of the men involved.” — Nelson Mandela
“In general, don’t interpret someone being quiet as non-participatory. Sometimes, people just need time to formulate their thoughts. It’s important to give them the opportunity to participate at their own pace. In the interest of saving time, don’t feel like you have to make small talk; if there’s something you need, get right to it.” — Vladimir Gendelman Found and CEO of Company Folders
“It is important to note that introvert does not mean shy or closed-off. Introverts can be extremely friendly people who simply prefer the stimulation of a one-on-one conversation to small talk at a large networking event. They will likely form deep connections with their colleagues and clients — at times, these relationships may be slower to develop. Because they like to think before they speak, they can think deeply about a topic and consider all facets of an issue before drawing conclusions.” — Bekka Erks Byrne, Leadership Consultant with Talent Plus, Inc.