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I am an introvert, an INTJ in the Myers Briggs Type Indicator world and  basically off the dial on introversion. Yet I balance this with a job that involves a huge amount of people interaction, talking in front of groups, leading and participating in many meetings with complex interactions and as a result, often with very little time to myself to charge my batteries.

Learning to successfully balance this is an ongoing journey and finding the time for recharge is a challenge. I’m interested in working my introvert side, understanding its strengths and weaknesses, capitalising on it, identifying what I can bring to a situation. I am interested in how to work it rather than have it working, and sometimes exhausting, me.

Here are some gems I have found on being an introvert especially in the work sphere and how to bring your innate strengths into play for positive outcomes.

Leveraging the advantages of being an introvert at work – Penelope Trunk

This article from Penelope Trunk discusses how the world of work rewards and is basically set up around the needs of extroverts. Her article provides a balance to this by offering some tips for leveraging the advantages of introverts. These tips include: working from the world of ideas; giving full attentiveness for a short, concentrated time; improving your self-knowledge of your type; teaching other people how best to interact with you as an introvert; and learning about the job roles that would best suit you.  There are also some excellent references for further reading embedded in this insightful article.

Caring for your introvert – Jonathan Rauch

This classic 2003 article from The Atlantic is about understanding the orientations and needs of introverts. It looks at some common myths or assumptions about introverts and provides a balanced point of view. The article takes the perspective that introverts are misunderstood and dogged by stereotypes such as being shy. Rauch corrects this one by saying that “introverts are people who find other people tiring.” Rauch has some good pointers for balancing time with people and finding time to charge again. His answers to a scan of issues about introverts (are they misunderstood? are they oppressed? what are the implications of extroverts dominating public life?) provide useful  perspectives for introverts seeking to find points of strength and balance. I especially love the distinction between introverts who typically ‘think before talking’ vs extroverts who typically ‘think by talking’.

Top ten myths about introverts – Carl King

This article, in a similar vein and drawing on the book ‘The Introvert Advantage: How to thrive in an Extrovert World’ by Marti Olsen-Laney (also highlighted in Penelope Trunk’s article), lists Carl’s top ten myths about introverts. It captures them in a pithy way I could instantly recognise. The article concludes:

‘It can be terribly destructive for an Introvert to deny themselves in order to get along in an Extrovert-Dominant World.’

Suggestions for managing this include: understanding the myths, linking in with other introverts for support and the need for extroverts to respect the ways of introverts.

Extroverts, introverts, aspies and codies – Venkatesh (Venkat) Rao

This article is a fascinating summary of introvert and extrovert issues but takes a step further into the realm of micro-economics, transactions and social psychology. The article explores where the energy is stored in the terms of exchange from the introvert and extrovert point of view. It also reviews how introverts and extroverts manage isolation vs physical contact; 1:1 encounters and their depth; weak-link social fields such as coffee shops; strong-link social fields such as family gatherings; relationships over time and relationships with strangers. Venkat also looks at how the tension between extroverts and introverts plays out in the slang terms they use or might use for each other: aspies (a term used by extroverts for introverts and linked to Asberger’s Syndrome) and codies ( a possible term as none exists and linked to co-dependency). Venkat concludes by saying that introversion is becoming far more visible, resulting in shifts in the landscape of social psychology.

I was fascinated to read in Penelope Trunk’s article above that my type, INTJ, has the longest Wikipedia page:

‘Because the combination of being an introvert and being ideas-driven makes one very interested in learning about oneself. INTJ’s are an extreme case, but all introverts have this combination to some extent, and the self-knowledge will help you put yourself in situations where you’ll have the most positive impact.’

It’s true, I am an extreme case and this summary is a piece of evidence testifying to that, an addition to the INTJ genre. Hopefully though, it is of use in finding tips and resources to unpack your strengths and work your introvert or to understand the ways of those around you. True to type,  I can’t tell you how energising I found the experience of researching and writing it.

How do you work your introvert?

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