By Ryan Abednego
If you have ever attended a career-related workshop or session, you will be told to network and make yourself stand out from the crowd. If you’re an introvert like me, just the thought of doing these things causes anxiety. It seems like the working world is more suited for the extrovert.
As someone who works for the UTS:Careers team, I am often in a meeting, running an event or meeting new people. Though everything may seem calm and collected on the outside, deep down I’m secretly feeling like Kermit below:
Partaking in constant extravert-oriented tasks can leave an introvert feeling mentally and physical exhausted, so it is important to manage this before stress takes over. Below are three things I recommend doing to stay productive at work, while still remaining sane.
Find your Fortress of Solitude
There are moments when constant human interaction has drained you of your life essence and you need time recharge. This could be as simple as taking quick walk outside, or (if possible) finding a quiet zone where you can work without distraction.
Personally, if I need a little ‘me time’ I will find a local cafe, order a coffee, put on my headphones and listen to classic 90s R&B. Don’t judge me, it was a simpler, more beautiful time back then.
Separating yourself from your work environment makes it easier to clear your mind from stress-inducing stimuli, and might be just what is needed to get you back into a positive mindset for that upcoming deadline.
Make time to say hello to a workmate!
Alone time is great, but you don’t want to be known as that silent person sitting in the corner eating pizza shapes every day. Despite many common misconceptions, being an introvert does not mean being anti-social. Crowds aren’t really my style, but I am a big fan of chatting in small groups or just with one other person.
A random “Hey, how are you going?” is a nice gesture, but if you’re looking for instant impact, food is the way to go. Food is the universal symbol for friendship and I would recommend scheduling a lunch date with a work buddy at least once a week. Having good relationships with your co-workers is key to a positive work experience and does wonders for your mental well-being.
A good lunch session goes a long way!
Play to your strengths
A saying that has resonated with me is: ‘Extroverts speak to think, introverts think to speak.’ There is no right or wrong way to express your views – this quote just means that extroverts like to build up an idea by talking through it with others whereas introverts prefer taking time to process information before giving a response.
Large group meetings and brainstorming sessions can make you feel like you’re being put on the spot, which results in anxiety. If such a meeting is on the horizon, come prepared with notes so you can succinctly express your viewpoints and respond to follow up questions comfortably. On the plus side, it’s great to be able to be at your most productive when working independently, without having to rely on others for motivation.
Introverts tend to be good at problem solving, creative thinking, writing and listening. I know…..GENERALISATION ALERT! But recognising your strengths and honing these skills will put you in the best position to progress in your career and show your value to the organisation.
No person is purely an extrovert or introvert, and any workplace won’t succeed without a combination of the two. There is no mould for the perfect employee, but having the awareness to understand the work styles of your colleagues (and yourself) will make those Mondays just that little bit more bearable.
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash.