Introversion in the Workplace
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2023 |
I brought receipts this time, but let’s get something straight first: the desire to feel seen, visible, and/or heard (figuratively, symbolically, and literally) is clearly at odds with the very definition of introversion. Introverts are individuals who generally recharge their energy by spending time alone, exhibiting a tendency to contemplate before taking action, learning through observation, possessing adept listening skills, and engaging in thoughtful decision-making. Introverted individuals are inclined towards listening rather than speaking, have a proclivity for innovation and creativity
but tend to be averse to self-promotion, and typically prioritize solitary work over team collaboration. For introverts, things like managing meetings can be some of the most exhausting of experiences. In contrast, extroverts are people who typically derive their energy from social interactions, often making swift decisions, excelling in communication, favoring speaking over listening, and relishing the spotlight. Because introverts tend to be more reserved, primarily due to their inclination to listen and reflect rather than speak, they may experience lower visibility in the workplace, potentially resulting in missed opportunities for recognition and advancement. Introverts frequently favor textual or digital means of communication, driven by their desire to maintain concentration on their work and daily tasks. Introverts excel when they have the freedom to work at their own rhythm and respond at their convenience. On the other hand, extroverts are better suited to settings that employ more interactive modes of communication.
Introverts prefer to stand in the spotlight without having to pretend to be extroverts. Yet, because we live in a society that appears to have a strong preference for extroverted traits—which are often linked to qualities such as “sociability,” “talkativeness,” “laid-back nature,” and being a “social butterfly,”—many introverted leaders learn how to exhibit extroverted qualities in order to be successful, but that doesn’t mean introverts want to be extroverts. One of the only reasons introverts may seek greater visibility in the workplace is because they often see their extroverted counterparts being rewarded for it (i.e., visibility)—BUT this doesn’t mean introverts desire the visibility that extroverts do (Blevins et al., 2022; Herbert et al., 2023).
And of course, as with a great deal of experimental social psychology that finds seemingly countless person-by-situation interactions, the desire for visibility in the workplace is greatly influenced by context. For instance, Stern et al. (1983) reported that extroverts were less satisfied than introverts with their clerical jobs in terms of the work itself, supervision, and co-workers. Relatedly, Huang et al. (2016) extroverts are more likely to hold and be satisfied in jobs rich in social interaction (also see Harari et al., 2018). Furthermore, it appears that only extroverts tend to experience a “hangover effect” in the workplace—research conducted by Son and Ok (2019) indicates that the job satisfaction of newcomers follows a U-shaped pattern, decreasing initially upon joining an organization but later rebounding. This temporal evolution of job satisfaction is also found to be influenced by the extraversion of the newcomers. The findings revealed that, on average, newcomers’ job satisfaction decreases upon entry into an organization but progressively improves over time. Notably, extroverted newcomers tend to experience a more pronounced dip in job satisfaction upon joining the organization, a phenomenon often referred to as the “hangover effect.” Also, only those who believe personality matters to being valued feel that introverts sometimes need to act more extroverted in order to succeed. But again, this does not mean that introverts desire to be seen/visible, but that they can recognize the potential rewards of being visible in the workplace.
Thus, to suggest that the most fundamental thing that a leader can do is help everyone they lead feel seen is a little shortsighted of the important role of introversion (given the fact that at least one-third of the population is introverted) and ignorant of the empirical research that sheds light on the issue.
My perspective here is greatly influenced by Blevins et al.’s (2022) and Herbert et al.’s (2023) fantastic, systematic literature reviews of all the latest empirical research on introversion in the workplace. Other great reads on these very same takes would of course be Susan Cain’s bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and Marti Laney’s book The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World.
Blevins, D. P., Stackhouse, M. R. D., & Dionne, S. D. (2022). Righting the balance: Understanding introverts (and extraverts) in the workplace. International Journal of Management Reviews, 24, 78-98.
Harari, M. B., Thompson, A. H., & Viswesvaran, C. (2018). Extraversion and job satisfaction: The role of trait bandwidth and the moderating effect of status goal attainment. Personality and Individual Differences, 123, 14-16.
Herbert, J., Ferri, L., Hernandez, B., Zamarripa, I., Hofer, K., Fazeli, M. S., Shnitsar, I., & Abdallah, K. (2023). Personality diversity in the workplace: A systematic literature review on introversion. Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, 38, 165-187.
Huang, J. L., Bramble, R. J., Liu, M., Aqwa, J. J., Ott, H. C. J., Ryan, A. M., Lounsbury, J. W., Elizondo, F., & Wadlington, P. L. (2016). Rethinking the association between extraversion and job satisfaction: The role of interpersonal job context. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 89, 683-691.
Luong, V., Shields, C., Petrie, A., & Neumann, K. (2022). Does personality matter? Perceptions and experiences of introverts and extraverts as general surgeons. Teaching and Learning in Medicine, 34, 255-265.
Son, J., & Ok, C. (2019). Hangover follows extroverts: Extraversion as a moderator in the curvilinear relationship between newcomers’ organizational tenure and job satisfaction. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 110, 72-88.
Sterns, L., Alexander, R. A., Barrett, G. V., & Dambrot, F. H. (1983). The relationship of extraversion and neuroticism with job preferences and job satisfaction for clerical employees. Journal of Occupational Psychology, 56, 145-153.
You can take a look at all of these sources here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1z3-do-hWNJXO7mH0llEqKe4UrWkQ9b32?usp=sharing
#introversion #introverts #introversionintheworkplace #leadership #nobullshitleadership