How Introverts Can Succeed in Team Environments
A couple years ago, admitting you were introverted was a dubious career move—after all, people tended to think of introverts as being shy, socially awkward loners who hugged the corners at office parties and industry conferences.
Then in 2013, Susan Cain wrote, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. The response was amazing; not only were many of the myths about introversion vanquished, but being an introvert became something worth celebrating.
Of course, there are still certain challenges. Working in teams can be difficult for introverts, who usually do their best work by themselves. If that sounds familiar, read on to learn how to make teamwork, work.
Take Periodic Breaks
While extroverts thrive during intense, collaborative meetings, introverts usually find them completely draining. However, skipping the meetings aren’t an option—so give yourself a chance to recharge by taking mini-breaks.
For example, if the team leader says, “Let’s take five before moving to the next item,” rather than staying in your seat and chatting with your coworkers (which could exhaust you more), leave and go into an empty room. You can close your eyes, look at pictures on your phone, listen to music, even meditate.
When you find yourself out of energy in the middle of a meeting, excuse yourself to the bathroom. And if you’ve got an all-day meeting, try to have lunch by yourself. You can say you’d like to read your book while you eat, or simply that you’d like to think—your colleagues should understand.
Schedule Your Contributions
It can be difficult for introverts to get as much airtime during meetings as their more extroverted peers. To ensure that your contributions are heard, talk to the team leader in advance so he or she can help.
If you already know what you’d like to discuss, ask the meeting supervisor to put it on the agenda. If you don’t have anything planned, you can say something like, “Hey! Sometimes it’s difficult for me to jump into the conversation when a bunch of people are already talking—if you see me trying to break in, I’d love your help in ‘taking the floor.’”
A good meeting leader will be happy to help.
Volunteer for Solo Work
In any group project, there will be tasks that require collaboration and tasks that do not. Since introverts normally prefer tackling assignments by themselves, you’ll want to volunteer for the second type.
To give you a simplified example, let’s say your manager is discussing the two main priorities for the week: mapping the user flow for one product, and prototyping another. The first project involves collaborating with the interaction designer and lead information architect, while the second can be done solo. Although the second might be more time consuming, you’ll probably have an easier time with it—so that’s the one we’d recommend raising your hand for.
Team projects may never be your favorite way to work, but by using these techniques, you can definitely make them way more productive (and maybe even enjoyable!)
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Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Signature Consultants was established in 1997 with a singular focus: to provide clients and consultants with superior staffing solutions. For the eighth consecutive year, Signature was voted as one of the “Best Staffing Firms to Work For” and is named the 14th Largest IT Staffing Firm in the United States (source: Staffing Industry Analysts). With 26 locations throughout North America, Signature annually deploys thousands of consultants to support, run, and manage their clients’ technology needs. Signature offers IT staffing, consulting, managed solutions, and direct placement services. For more information on the company, please visit www.sigconsult.com.