Surprising Findings About Introverts in the Workplace

Introverts, maybe think twice before you down three cups of coffee.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

This article originally appeared in Inc.

Do you have the extroverted personality of a natural-born leader? If not, you can still be a successful entrepreneur. In fact, introverts make better listeners and can switch back and forth between introversion and extroversion to outperform their chattier counterparts.

“Being a high self-monitor, a standup chameleon as I like to call them, that can shift positions to suit the situation is most effective in the early stages of entrepreneurship,” says Brian Little, author of Me, Myself, and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being. Little has researched on how personality traits can affect personal and professional relationships, dispelling many common myths about introverts along the way.


Below, read some of Little’s other surprising findings about introverts.

1. Introverts Should Avoid Coffee


While a caffeine kick may work wonders to get you through the midday work slump, it has an adverse effect on introverts, according to Little, especially if they are tasked with performing quantitative analysis under time pressure. According to Little, introverts are more receptive to brain stimulation, and too much of it can actually deter from clear and effective thinking. Similarly, being in a noisy, crowded environment also can overstimulate an introvert’s brain activity. They do their best work under relaxed circumstances.

2. Introverts Make Better Salespeople

“Leaders are typically seen as extroverted in the corporate world because they can lead the charge … but introverts are better listeners,” Little tells Inc., and that’s one tremendously important quality needed especially in the sales department. Little says that an introvert’s listening ability can make for better understanding of a client’s needs and expectations.


3. Introverts Score Higher in Job Interviews

This is another instance when an introvert’s listening skills come in very handy in a professional setting, unlike extroverts who often talk too much and prefer to be the star of the show. “Extroverts may be [so] pumped to display their good qualities that they may fail to grasp the subtle questions and what’s really being asked,” Little says. 


4. Introverts Work Well With Extroverts

A common misconception about introverts and extroverts is that they speak different languages, especially in workplace scenarios. “There are exceptions,” Little points out. “When an extrovert and an introvert engage in conversation, the introvert takes on the role of interviewer.” This can actually lead to an effective way of sharing information and communicating.


5. Introverts Can Be Extroverted

Adults are not fixed into just one personality paradigm and have the flexibility to “act out of character,” especially when a job or project requires them to take on a certain role, according to Little. Oftentimes introverts take on the role of a pseudo-extrovert in order to engage in highly social situations that frequently occur in professions like public relations, communications, and marketing.

6. Introverts Burn Out Easily

When introverts are thrown into a situation in which they have to be extremely extroverted—delivering a keynote at a high-profile conference, for example—they should take the time to regain their center, Little says. He suggests reading a book, meditating, or taking a relaxing walk to avoid burning out.

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