Introverted women need to change their perspective, not personality

Here are a few simple solutions to help introverted women overcome challenges at workplace

By: Inchara Shivaramu

Do you feel drained after long meetings? Do you feel the talks around coffee breaks exhausting? Do you prefer clinging to the couch and watching TV shows at home rather than go out for happy hours? Well, you are probably an introvert. 

When it comes to personality types, there’s no black and white. We all exhibit a wide range of traits and behaviours depending on the environment, our mood and other factors. But most of us tend to lean toward either introversion or extroversion, which are defined by how we gain energy and where we direct our attention. While activities and people energize extroverts, introverts need time to themselves to reflect and recharge. They tend to be calm, good listeners and prefer to think before they speak. But at times, workplace fails to recognize an introvert’s abilities.

Generally successful leadership has been associated with traits that are stereotypically linked with extrovert men, such as dominance and assertiveness. So what happens with introvert women who aspire to reach leadership position at workplace? You may find yourself overlooked and disregarded by louder voices.

“Introverted women who aspire to leadership positions will come face-to-face with some of their worst anxieties and fears,” says Mella Barnes, a project manager who describes herself as “very introverted.” “What seems easy, and even fun, to extroverts will be daunting and even agonizing.”
Here are a few solutions to help introverted women overcome challenges at workplace and advance in their career: 
Focus on your passion
Psychoanalyst and author Claudia Luiz notes that introverted women often fall into the trap of wanting -- and then trying -- to be someone they are not. Introverts should forget about changing their personality, and instead focus on the substantive matter at hand. “For example, if you are the dean of a school, don’t focus on becoming more lively and outgoing. Focus instead on your passion for education and serving the people.” 

When introverts are fuelled by their passion, they function superbly in leadership roles, no matter what their gender, or what degree of discrimination they may suffer at the hands of sexism, she explains.

Overcome fears about public speaking 
General public surveys show that public speaking tops the human list of fears, beating out even fear of death. If you are a classic introvert, you might feel this anxiety even more profoundly than others. If you want to excel in your career, then it is worth it to overcome these jitters.

Lynette Crane, founder and CEO of Quiet Brilliance Consulting LLC., says “I recommend public speaking for women and introverts because they spend a lot of time sitting on the sidelines, overpowered by other people’s voices – being cut off, shouted down and just ignored. Doing a presentation is the best way to take charge, control the situation and get your entire message out. It is the top motivator for overcoming nerves and taking the risk. 

Shift your perspective 
While female introverts may find themselves dismissed or misunderstood because of their extroverted counterparts’ ability to take the lead or verbally outshine them, they can choose to focus on and embrace their unique strengths rather than any perceived weaknesses.

Licensed temperament specialist Dr Melanie Ross Mills says introverts receive a special type of regard and respect compared with being a ‘Chatty Cathy,’ because their words have weight.

She says as a female introvert, you can also be a powerhouse because you take time to think, create and build – and since you are not using a lot of external energy entertaining and ‘being on stage’, you can cultivate depth. Once you stop viewing being an introvert as a setback, that in itself can change your trajectory in the workplace.


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