As an introvert, you may think it’s impossible for you to rise to the top of the corporate ladder above the shoutiest of shouters. You may be right. Should you even participate in a corporate culture that ignores at least 50% of its workers? I dunno. Could you try to work to change things? Maybe, but that takes so much energy and saying words out loud is terrible. In light of these painful truths, here’s how to just barely stay afloat as an introvert in the corporate world.
When extroverts are loudly debating stuff in meetings, resist the urge to weep quietly in the corner
Yes, they’re loud, and yes, contributing to a combative and chaotic meeting is the last thing you feel like doing. And that’s OK: it’s perfectly normal for introverted freaks to have these boundaries. Just don’t take it too far by weeping in the corner: this could damage your career in unforeseen ways.
Network in your own, introverted style
Every introvert dreads networking, and that’s fine. But you’ll need to find a style of networking that you’re comfortable with in order to get ahead in your career, or at least keep the job you have. You don’t need to go to big events and talk to a bunch of people to achieve this: try staring intensely at people you see around the office, or writing a long, thoughtful email to Susan Cain, celebrated introvert and author of Quiet. You may never meet her face to face, but she will always remember you as the special soul who rambled on about your beautiful cat for 6700 words. And at least she’ll never get close enough to experience your haunting stare!
Over-prepare for meetings
Everyone should really be doing this, but you just know that those dumb extroverts have been out all night talking loudly with the CEO of your company. That’s ok, because as an introvert you, too, have a secret — albeit extremely boring — weapon: preparedness. The night before an important meeting, write a detailed script of things you’d like to say during the meeting. If the conversation goes a different way than you anticipated, now is the time to weep quietly in the corner.
Carve out a quiet workspace for yourself
With the rise of the open concept office, it can be hard to find a peaceful place to get some work done. Tactfully block out the noise and the sight of your wildly gesticulating, narcissistic colleagues by covering yourself with a pretty heavy blanket and just working under there. If you’re really serious about checking some tasks off your to-do list, slap a “do not disturb” sign on that blanket. You got this.
Attach a lighthearted disclaimer to each meeting invite you send out
Keep it simple, but specific:
Though I am sending you this meeting invite, I’d actually much rather be working under my blanket or weeping quietly in the corner. Hope you understand if I stare at you intensely or type a long email to Susan Cain, celebrated introvert and author of Quiet, for the duration of the meeting. I am an introvert, just barely holding on here, and that’s just how we introverts are. 😉
Stay true to yourself. Though this world was built for extroverts, and you are most certainly not welcome, if you just be your quiet self, you may be tolerated long enough to earn a solid pension for yourself. Diversity of thought FTW!