Do You Have To Be Loud At Work?

Introvert Introversion

I am an INFJ. Anyone familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator will recognize INFJ as one of the 16 personality types. “I” stands for introverted, “N” – intuitive, “F” – feeling, and “J” – judging. It is the least common personality type in the U.S. according to Truity.

INFJs are energized by time alone (Introverted), focus on ideas and concepts rather than facts and details (iNtuitive), make decisions based on feelings and values (Feeling) and prefer to be planned and organized rather than spontaneous and flexible (Judging).

This means that as an INFJ, I am guided by a set of personal values, want a meaningful life, and desire deep connections with other people. INFJs often appear quiet, reserved, and complex. Because INFJs are reluctant to engage with others who might not understand them, it can be hard for people to get to know INFJs. Predominantly, INFJs live for the opportunity to solve problems and bring about positive change in the world.

How does this translate to a work environment? Susan Cain wrote a whole book on this topic, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. In her book, she points out bias against introverts. The workplaces are designed with extroverts in mind and highly undervalue introverts. It is unfortunate. Introverts are reflective thinkers who can tolerate the solitude that is required for idea-generation. “Solitude is a catalyst for innovation,” suggests Cain.

Introverts are often labeled as “quiet,” typically implying a negative connotation. What most people miss in a world where almost two-thirds of the population are extroverts is that “quiet leadership” is not only possible, but it can be immensely transformative. At no other time has this fact been as evident as it is now during the outbreak of Covid-19.

Everything has been turned upside down. Extroverts are struggling with self-isolation and social distancing required to limit the spread of Covid-19. Most people are working from home. The escape from the open floor plan offices is a dream for introverts, but the lack of social interaction is a nightmare for extroverts.

My first professional job in college was at a class-action law firm. During my job interview, the hiring manager and I quickly clicked because of our mutual interests and temperaments. The interview turned from 20 minutes to 30 minutes to almost 1.5 hours. At that point, the hiring manager said that she was canceling all the following interviews and offering me the job.

Several months later, while we were working on a project, she told me that I should be more assertive. The next day, she came to the office visibly upset. She walked over to my desk and said, “I am sorry about what I said yesterday. You should be you.” She understood that a quiet nature does not mean a lack of assertiveness.

As we now have more time to slow down and reflect on the way the world is, instead of the way it used to be or the way we perceived it to be, it is a good time to reimagine the future of work and leadership. Will we continue to value employees with only the “ideal” personality type, or will we start to appreciate and embrace people who might appear different from us? It is their different perspectives that could contribute to the success of organizations in the future.

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