Leverage the advantages of being an introvert at work

The workplace is set up to reward extroverts. For example, ENTJs make up only 3% of the population but they comprise a wide majority of the world’s CEOs. The bias against introverts in American society is well documented, including research that shows that a spot on the cheerleading team foreshadows career success much more reliably than a spot on the honor roll. Also, workplace catch phrases that annoy everyone are especially annoying if you're not an extrovert: Toot your own horn! Your career is only as strong as your network! Let's do lunch!

The absurdity of the workplace being set up for extroverts is that 57% percent of the world are introverts, according to Laurie Helgoe, a psychologist and the author of the book Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life is Your Hidden Strength.

A lot of people tell me that my posts about how to approach social situations if you have Asperger Syndrome are helpful to people who are introverts. That might be true, in that both types of people need to limit their exposure to social situations. But the difference is that people with Asperger's are disabled socially. People who are introverts could be great in social situations.

So you can't judge yourself by whether or not you are socially competent. Rather, if you have the choice to be in a social situation or be alone, which would you choose more often? An introvert has more energy for doing life if he or she gets time alone, to recharge. An extrovert gets recharged from being around people. (Here's a test to take if you're not sure what you are.)

I am not an introvert. (I'm an ENTJ.) But I have sensory integration dysfunction, which gives me a similar feeling to introverts when they are overwhelmed with outside input. So unlike most ENTJs, I have a soft spot for introverts. And I am realizing that introversion is an important thing to have in a workplace — the trick is having introverts that understand why they're so valuable.

Here are five ways to leverage the advantages of introversion:

1. Work in the world of ideas.
Introverts generally love to talk about ideas, according to Helgoe. She says that in conversation, introverts are stronger if you talk about “what are you thinking?” instead of “what are you doing?” And at work, you are stronger if you are helping people with ideas rather than sticking to a routine pattern of work.

2. Give ten minutes and then go.
Make a connection, really contribute to the conversation, and then ten minutes is enough. Also, Helgoe says extroverts often have anxiety that they cannot get access to the introverts in their life — because they are always leaving to be alone. Introverts can alleviate this problem by being fully attentive for a short time and then leaving.

3. Have confidence in your self-knowledge.
Do you know the personality type that has the longest Wikipedia page? INTJ. Because the combination of being an introvert and being idea-driven makes one very interested in learning about oneself. INTJs are extreme cases, but all introverts have this combination to some extent, and the self-knowledge will help you to put yourself in situations where you'll have the most positive impact. For example, Helgoe has a great chapter on how to get out of going to a party — a key skill for an introvert, who does better in very small groups. But the bottom line is that you have to say that you'd rather be alone, which, Helgoe points out, “requires a real grounding in who you are.”

4. Teach other people to interact with you.
A lot of the conflict Ryan Healy and I used to have is that I had no idea how to communicate with an introvert. The biggest difference is that I think out loud, so I never stop talking to think. Ryan thinks and then talks. But if I never shut up, he can't actually think long enough to have a response. He did a bunch of research about communication styles and he taught me this difference between us. It helped me a lot to make space so that we could have a productive conversation. (Here's a book that can help you teach people how to approach introversion, and here’s a summary of the book.)

5. Take control of your work.
One of the most popular professions for introverts is being a writer. What this means is that there is a lot of information written about what work is well-suited for an introvert. Here is a list of ways to make an office that will help introverts excel.

And, I'm going to end by telling you to check out the book I recommend more than any other book in the world: Do What You Are by Paul Tieger. This book does not provide a single list of jobs suitable to introverts because there are so many different types of introverts. But this book can tell you what sort of introvert you are (for example, an artist or an activist?) and what sort of work you will thrive in.

As for you extroverts, stop assuming everyone is like you, and start tailoring conversation to introverts when it’s appropriate. Once I understood the different types of personalities, I started doing much better at work.

Posted in Diversity, Fulfillment, No image, Office politics
86 comments on “Leverage the advantages of being an introvert at work
  1. Alex Lickerman, MD. says:

    Learning to thrive in your work environment certainly begins with self-knowledge but ends with confidence–confidence in recognizing that just because you don’t have the strengths of the people around you (or above you) doesn’t mean you don’t have strengths that can be leveraged to create value (as you say).

    http://www.happinessinthisworld.com/2009/07/05/the-three-realms-of-confidence/

  2. Van says:

    This post makes me feel better about being the office marketing writer/online content manager and infamous introvert. Ironically I am not introverted outside of the office (my friends joke that I have the office “fooled” that I’m a normal human being). We have an attorneys side of the office and the sales side of the office, I work with both but I don’t engage anyone in conversation outside of what I need to make. Sometimes I think I really should venture out and force more conversation- but it would be just that, forced. I want genuine connections or none at all.

    Also, I can’t reply to the sales guys with their loud “let’s do lunch” style statements because it’s just not me. I will not be assimilated!

  3. Mark W. says:

    I already did the personality assessment test over at Paul Tieger’s web site a while back. I tested ISTJ. The thing that concerns me and I wonder about is how accurate that finding is since it is a self-assessment. I think it’s probably close since I tried to be as honest as possible with myself while taking it. I wonder how much more a professionally administered test would be able to tell me about my personality, how much it costs, and would it be worth the cost.

    • celia says:

      Mark,

      I think the trick to these online test is that you take them at regular but lengthy intervals, say every 3 months or so, to check consistency. I’ve done online assessments over the past few years and always come out as INTJ. I personally wouldnt pay for a professional test as there are plenty on the net.

  4. Joe says:

    Penelope, probably “soft spot for extroverts” should be “soft spot for introverts” — otherwise the statement is confusing.

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      Thanks. I made the change. I can’t decide whether it’s a confusing typo or a Freudian slip :)

      Penelope

  5. Emily says:

    “A lot of people tell me that my posts about how to approach social situations if you have Asperger Syndrome are helpful to people who are introverts. That might be true, in that both types of people need to limit their exposure to social situations. But the difference is that people with Asperger's are disabled socially. People who are introverts could be great in social situations.”

    People with Asperger’s do not need “to limit their exposure to social situations.” My son has Asperger’s. He’s very social. He’s not “disabled socially,” either. He simply has to intellectualize social interaction more than people who do not have Asperger’s. That does not add up to “disability.” It adds up to a different path to socializing. The physiology of introversion is likely not much different from that of Asperger’s when it comes to socializing. Obviously, for an introvert, socializing causes discomfort or other negative responses. And obviously, for an introvert to “be great in social situations,” they’d have to practice what apparently does not come naturally to them; in other words, they’d have to intellectualize the social interaction. Just like people with Asperger’s do.

    • Lora says:

      “Obviously, for an introvert, socializing causes discomfort or other negative responses.”

      *Blinks* What? How did you arrive to that conclusion? I’m an introvert, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like to socialize or be around other people. Just that I don’t want to do so all the time, and need time for myself to recharge. I need my private space.
      I’ve got some really good friends that I love spending time with, because they get my need for a little privacy and time to just think and be ‘alone’. Those friends I can hang out with for days without tiring, because I still got space and can withdraw into myself whenever I want.
      So introverts don’t necessary feel discomfort or negative feelings in social situations. It’s more a matter of the type of social situation and how much recharfing time the introvert gets.

  6. Kathy says:

    I had to drop a note with these links because you can’t write about introverts without referencing this really popular Atlantic article from 2003, and its follow-up from 2006:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200303/rauch
    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200604u/introversy

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      Oh. These are great links. Thanks. (And, they’re actually a good model for me to use when writing about Asperger Syndrome.)

      Penelope

  7. Hope says:

    In high school, I was on the honor roll.

  8. Jake says:

    I’m surprised you missed Caring for Your Introvert in The Atlantic, which should be mandatory reading for potential introverts so they understand themselves and mandatory reading for extroverts so they might better understand their counterparts.

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      I’m surprised you missed the links, two comments above yours, that point to the Atlantic article :)

      And, now that I have decided to respond more in the comments section, I’m thinking that it will have a more broad affect of having everyone respond to each others’ comments more.

      Penelope

  9. Mneiae says:

    I’m an INTJ so it’s really interesting to read about this. The INTJ article in wikipedia is so long because I’m guessing that there are a lot of contributors who are INTJs themselves.

    Also, the Aspergers article is incredibly detailed and long, and I’m guessing that it’s maintained by the abundance of people who are interested in Aspergers, many of whom are Aspies themselves.

    Quite a few Aspies are INTJs, so there’s a distinct overlap between who is editing and contributing to both of the articles.

    I love the benefits of their labor :)

  10. Jennifer Magnano says:

    I truly enjoyed reading this article. As someone who “reads people” for a living (recruiting and hr), it is absolutely critical to find out what type of person you are working with- on both ends! The best hiring situations that I’ve mediated are ones in which a personality (or behavioral psychology) test is utilized. The way that Tamara Lowe explains Motivational DNA is actually very nice, as the two core drivers of Producers versus Connectors assimilate to to some pieces of being an introvert or extrovert. Thank you again for some wonderful words of wisdom!

  11. Jill says:

    I really enjoyed this post. I’m one of those introverts who keeps wondering why I have to try so hard just to do a quarter of the social interaction my coworkers (the extroverts) do. I also enjoy your Asperger’s posts because I can take a lot away from them on what to do to develop relationships while being true to my comfort level with social interaction and my best work methods.

  12. Timothy Long says:

    Boy, did this resonate with me.

  13. Amanda says:

    I was a cheerleader AND on the honor roll, but I am still introverted at work! What gives? :)

  14. Mark Dykeman says:

    I like this article. One thing that puzzles me, though, is Laurie Helgoe’s claim that 57% of the population is introverted. She must be measuring it differently than MBTI does because I’m used to reading about introverts being about 25% – 40% of the population (and which population is that, anyway?)

    Although I’m INTJ, I’ve done MBTI testing and came up with different scores at different times in my life: INFP and ISTJ. My INTJ results were from one year ago. Your five recommendations all ring true with me, at least to some extent, but it’s important to remember that an INTJ isn’t an INTJ isn’t an INTJ because the degrees to which we score on the four attributes can vary. They are tendencies, not iron clad rules.

    • Laurie Helgoe says:

      Hi Mark:
      Penelope asked me to respond to your comment. I, too, was used to reading that introverts made up the minority (one-fourth or one-third) of the population. But when I started my research for INTROVERT POWER, I could not find any studies supporting those statistics.

      I looked in the go-to resource for MBTI research — the ponderous MBTI manual. What I found were the results of the most recent population studies — the ONLY studies using national, Census-matched samples — and the two conducted to date found that introverts make up 51% (1st study) or 57% (most recent study) of the population.

      I saw it, but I still didn’t believe it. So I kept looking. The largest studies all said the same thing: the number of introvert either matched or exceeded the number of introverts.

      I was about to give up when I ran across a footnote in Isabel Myers’ book, GIFTS DIFFERING. I love her book, but it’s pretty old. Problem is, as new editions were published, the old statistic was not updated. Isabel’s findings came from a small, unpublished study that was conducted sometime prior to 1962!

      I still didn’t believe it. So I contacted the lead researcher for the national population studies, Alan Hammer, to ask what I was missing. His reply:

      “No, you’re not missing anything! The 3:1 ratio has been the accepted wisdom ever since Isabel wrote about it. And you are correct that it was based on a very old study of high school kids. Isabel looked at the distributions in that sample and then based on her assumptions about how biased it might be in certain directions she extrapolated to the population. Then others picked up on that and off we go. So it wasn’t until the 1998 study that we anyone really did a national sample. The roughly 50/50 split was later confirmed by a 2nd national sample that we did by a 2nd national sample that we did for Step II.”

      So that’s my story and , now, I’m sticking to it.

      As for your question about what population, the stats I quoted are based on the U.S. population. Statistics that we have from other countries reveal the roughly 50/50 proportion.

      The implications of the minority myth — and how it
      was maintained — are staggering, but for the rest of the story, you’ll need to read my book :).

      Best, Laurie

      • Mark Dykeman says:

        Thanks for the comment Laurie (and Penelope). This updated statistic is quite unexpected. These studies would be worth looking at to see what the distribution of introversion by geography; gender; economic class; profession, etc.

  15. cindy says:

    I am a classic introvert. I have a great example: I was in Las Vegas for a conference held at the Paris Hilton. I was elbow to elbow with hundreds of people all day long. We were given 1 1/2 hours for lunch. I would go up to my room, shut the blackout curtains, take off all of my clothes and just lay under the covers to recharge myself from being around so many people in such an intense atmosphere all morning. After that, I was good to go for the afternoon.

    I love being an introvert, but it’s true that the extroverted world, for the most part, doesn’t “get” us. We come off as aloof or anti-social at times. Oh well. I love my rich inner life and wouldn’t trade it in for a more extroverted model….

  16. cindy says:

    I should add something. It certainly does help to understand myself and how I operate now that I’m grown up. Rather than feel like an outcast (as I did when I was a child), I see my unique qualities as strengths.

  17. Jay Goldman says:

    Great post Penelope!

    There’s two sides to this story (as there are to all good stories :). Management needs to recognize that the workplace needs to be optimized for both Es and Is, and people need to have the courage to optimize their own lives.

    It’s a little off topic, but you should check out Gary Vaynerchuk’s book Crush It!. He’s all about finding the things you’re passionate and then doing them as your career. He doesn’t explicitly talk about optimizing for your personality type, but Is should definitely choose careers that match (like writers). Life’s too short to not do what you love and are good at!

  18. prklypr says:

    I think there are other unspoken advanatages to being an introvert at work. Introverts tend to stay below the radar and get the job done with minimum attention. Bad if you’re looking for credit for a job well done, but very good if management is looking for someone to blame for a problem.

  19. JPeep says:

    Thanks, Penelope.

    I’m getting a lot from these posts on Aspergers + communication styles at work. And I like some aspects of Myers-Briggs at work. For example, at a corporate retreat our department took the tests – out of a 50 person staff, 42 were “J” and 8 were “P.” The J people were project management staff, managing deadlines, budgets, numbers, details. The P people thrived more on new business – we still met deadlines in writing proposals, but our deadlines were every 2-3 weeks with constantly changing conditions vs. projects that take 3-5 years to complete. You need both to do the work, and understanding where someone is coming from makes everyone more respectful.

    If you know yourself well – how you communicate, how you work, what you need – and can speak directly and honestly to your coworkers and they can speak that way with you, it makes everything go so much better at work.

    One of the biggest things I’ve seen is that extroverts get their work done during meetings (thinking out loud, trading ideas, thinking on the fly), while introverts get their work done in preparing for the meeting and after the meeting. Not that extroverts don’t prepare, and not that introverts don’t contribute, but I think extroverts see the meetings more as productive time in itself.

    I can see so many situations where an introvert could just say an extroverted coworker “Glad you could bounce some ideas off me, but I need half an hour on my own to think about what you said and see what else I can add – let’s regroup in a little while.”

  20. Tina Fortune says:

    This is great information. I am an INTJ at work simply because I have a daily goal. I see work simply as a way to fund my dreams and get me one day closer to being debt free. Great post, love the detail.

  21. Anna says:

    I’ve been obsessed with MBTI ever since my first RA training, my sophomore year in college (I was an RA for three years). When I meet someone new, inevitably, I ask them if they’ve taken the MBTI.

    I’m an INTJ, so this was especially interesting. Though I’d like to be more extroverted, I just don’t think it’s in the cards for me. When I was an infant, my parents took me the doctor because I never really responded when they tried to get my attention. They thought I might have been deaf. There was nothing wrong with my ears; I was just caught up in my own mind. I hardly ever cried as a child upon waking, and was never bothered at the thought of being alone.

    I suppose that gives me less of a chance of being successful in business, but then again, I find that my boss appreciates my INTJ qualities.

  22. rose says:

    “Whaaaaa…”

    I do not doubt Asperger is a condition, but can people stop diagnosing themselves. You only cheapen it for people that have been clinically diagnosed.

    I get nervous talking to people at work. Must be Aspergers.
    I don’t like some people at work. Must be Aspergers.
    I didn’t get the promotion. Must be Aspergers.

    Ask yourselves this, when your children act up in school do you say “Bobby is gifted. He is not being challenged at school, that is why he hits and starts fires.” Perhaps Bobby is a brat that is not getting good parenting. OR Bobby has some emotional or psychological issues that you are afraid talk to an actual doctor about. Hmm.

    Stop blaming your issues on some syndrome. Get comfortable with yourself and learn to be happy with who you are – Stop worrying about eyebrows and haircuts and thinking they define you. If you cannot – then yes, please seek professional help because you do have some personal issues.

    Listen we all hate certain people at work. We all get nervous and fake emotions. The majority of people find making new friends difficult. The majority of us are introverts, not extroverts.

    Sorry for my tone and abrasive words on an important topic… It’s just my Aspergers talking.

  23. Irv Podolsky says:

    Gee Penelope,
    I never thought of myself as an introvert, ’cause like, isn’t that sorta nerdy or recessive? I thought I was just…you know, different. That I didn’t fit in. That I was sort of a Visitor watching how crazy this world is coming off and taking notes about it. And I thought, and still do, that feeling outside the party is actually just an expression of honesty. If I’m not talking to people, it’s ’cause there’s no sincere connection, and why should I waste time with polite conversation if no mind-melds are sparking my soul. Why be dishonest about that? ‘Cause ya know, there are times when there IS real communication. And then I’m not feeling “introverted” in the lease. So I’m thinking, maybe being introverted is not a constant deal in my life. Or other people’s lives. Maybe being shy or disinterested comes and goes as the relationships change, as situations change, as moods change. ‘Cause when I find another Visitor like myself, there’s no disconnect at all. In fact, it’s deep, deep, deep. Even while watching a chic flick.

    Irv

  24. LPC says:

    Introverts need to know these 6 words.
    1. I
    2. Will
    3. Get
    4. Back
    5. To
    6. You…

  25. Joselle says:

    One thing to mention about the Myers-Briggs types is that they lie on a continuum. So, it’s not about either being an extrovert or an introvert. It’s about having a tendency towards one or the other in different situations and in different times of your life (for instance, people tend to become more introverted as they age).

    I always thought I was an introvert. And I am an INFP. But when I did a personality test with a psychologist, I was surprised to see that I scored only a little bit higher as an introvert than as an extrovert (whereas I am almost completely feeling as opposed to thinking and I am almost 50/50 in being perceiving versus judging so I basically consider myself an INFJ, too–except it’s a very P thing to flip flop!). This is why most people don’t believe me when I say I am introvert. I do a very good job of acting like an extrovert because I am in the thick of building my career. But it’s exhausting!

  26. Mark W. says:

    I re-read this post and it occurs to me that the post is more than ‘leveraging the advantages of being an introvert at work’. It’s also about people taking the time and effort to understand other people even though they communicate differently. So I have to give Ryan Healy credit as he’s the good example here in item #4 – Teach other people to interact with you. Just think how much better off this world would be if all of us were more patient, tolerant, and aware of each others’ perspective and communication style.

  27. Green says:

    I read all your posts but rarely comment. However, I love your writing – you are so direct and clear in your advice. I wish there was some way to take your advice and use it to get myself a job, but I haven’t figured out how.

    I am totally an introvert. My parents made me feel like something was wrong with me growing up. I would cry before having to go to family gatherings. It was not until my late 20’s that they both confessed to being uncomfortable in social situations also. A couple of years ago I had to go to two parties in one day. I had to go lay down on my bed between them. I never go to holiday parties because I can not stand around drinking (I don’t drink) and schmoozing (I can’t schmooze well), and dread departmental lunches when I have to attend them.

  28. Marsha Keeffer says:

    I’m an introvert and like certain events – dislike others. If it’s a seminar-type event with a classroom or lecture setting, I’m happy as a clam. A cocktail party designed to show off the company’s smarts…not so much. One-on-one or small groups are my preference.

    Thanks for this topic – you’ve helped me see myself more clearly and it’s helpful to know there are a lot of people who feel the way I do.

  29. EC says:

    I’ve taken the MBTI tests many times over the years so I’m very comfortable with my type (INTP) and have read “Please Understand Me” and the like so have a basic understanding of the implications of various personality types. But your post gave me a true “ah ha” moment – the answer was in front of me the entire time. I’ve had a very strained relationship with my boss (the CEO) since starting in my current position (marketing). He has said I’m not enthusiastic enough and I’m not “acting like a leader” even though my work overall is “outstanding” and I have initiated and executed many successful and high-visibility projects on behalf of the company. But when I take into account that he is an extreme E, it makes sense. I don’t think he can conceive of quiet, thoughtful leadership. To him, leader = cheerleader (and part time party organizer). While I have given up ever getting ahead at this company for this reason, I wish someone would enroll my boss in a workshop where he can learn that there are many leadership and communication styles and that you just need to know how to spot ‘em!

    P.S. In the software business there are many Asperger’s folks, so this blog has helped me understand them a bit better. Thanks!

  30. mysticaltyger says:

    Thank you Penelope. This was a great post. This introvert thanks you from the bottom of his heart!

  31. Lance says:

    I don’t believe in introverts. There are only degrees of social skill, social intelligence, situational group dynamics, and your current confidence level. Ever met an “introvert” who was a cutup amongst her friends? That person can be taught to be an extrovert in almost any social situation.

    • Joselle says:

      Introversion is not interchangeable with shyness or social awkwardness. Introversion is about getting your energy from within. Extroverts get it from without.

      If you’re shy, don’t assume you’re an introvert. Shyness isn’t a personality type. It’s a coping mechanism gone awry. I used to be shy. I’m not anymore. I’m still an introvert, though.

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      Lance, an extrovert or introvert is not defined by how they are in social situations. And, yes, I have met an introvert who is a cutup among friends — my ex, actually.

      You define yourself as an introvert or extrovert based on how you recharge yourself. Whether or not you are good in social situations, you need recharging. Everyone needs recharging. Extroverts recharge by being with people, introverts recharge by being alone.

      Penelope

  32. Becky Miller says:

    I am an INFJ. This is really helpful — thanks. I think these tips will help in my marriage to an ESTJ as well as at work. I’ve learned just recently that I need to think things through before I can verbalize them, whereas my husband talks and talks and says stuff he doesn’t mean in the process of figuring out what he really does mean. I process it all internally and the words that come out ARE what I really mean. Understanding this distinction and communication difference has helped us a lot.

  33. Aisha says:

    I don’t think that 57% of the population could be introverted.. but if that was true, my life would definitely be easier since I’m an introvert myself ;)

    Also, not all of us introverts dislike being around people. I have friends and love being with them but there are just times when I want to be left alone. I also hate going to parties and making small talk, I’d rather be somewhere with a small group of friends :)

  34. Penelope Trunk says:

    I always like hearing from first-time commenters. It’s interesting to me, first off, that they self-identify. Second, I always wonder, what makes someone comment for the first time?

    As I force myself to comment more, in my own comments section, I am realizing that the process of commenting actually brings up my own leanings toward introversion. It’s so much easier to read the comments than add to the comments — in a similar way that it’s easier for me to go to a big party and listen rather than talk.

    The other thing this comment makes me think about is drinking. When I drink at a party, I do not get more chatty. I am still overwhelmed by whole party atmosphere. So I wonder if we think drinking makes parties more fun, but really, drinking just makes parties more fun for people who already think parties are pretty fun.

    Penelope

  35. Jim says:

    This is an excellent piece with very practical advice. I may be an ENTJ like Penelope, but actually border on the introversion scale. Too often extroverts dominant meetings, speaking as they’re thinking – there’s little processing of what’s to be said. One result is that meetings run much longer, and become excessively repetitive.

    In a world of ideas and where knowledge and innovation are the new currency, this is where introverts can shine. Penelope’s advice here is bang on.

    It’s also interesting to note that many heads of corporations are indeed introverts. How they got there in a sea of extroverts makes for interesting reading. So one suggestion is to seek out books on these individuals to learn their stories.

  36. Karen says:

    Thank you for this great article. I was laid off in September after 3 years on the job. I know it was mainly due to me being an introvert, as I worked for a small PR company filled with almost all extroverts, to the point it was one big clique.

    Either way my clients loved my work and were sad to see me go, and each year I got a raise at review time, but when it came time to cutting jobs the only grounds they had was I didn’t seem eager enough (basically my liking to be alone to do my work hurt my position).

    Anyway, all in all I am glad to be out of there, and will take your book references as guides to finding my next job. I shouldn’t have to be someone I’m not and it’s nice to know at least it’s not personal and other people are experiencing this.

    You are excellent at what you do and trying to understand others!

  37. Claudia says:

    I’ve been an introvert most of my life, my assessment was I was an INTJ.

    After years of therapy and really putting myself to it because I hated being left behind because I was not an extrovert (let’s face it, the world belongs to the extroverts), I crossed to the other side of the scale (just a little bit, but enough) to be assessed as an ENTJ.

    Thanks to your article I now know that female ENTJs comprise 1.5% of the population, so I feel exclusive (even if I’m almost an outsider, hehe).

    That was an extra boost I really needed today :D

  38. Maureen Sharib says:

    USAToday article:
    Working with family members can be rewarding and trying
    http://tinyurl.com/y9bhxg6

  39. Jenny says:

    This article was like a breath of fresh air after two years of workplace anxiety as an introvert. Thank you. Thank you. And thank you. I’m checking out the book mentioned at the end today.

  40. Jenny says:

    On the subject of drinking.. I was called “socially retarded” until I met the social lubricant known as Natural Light in undergrad. It helped me start talking and in the long term, it’s not a crutch anymore. I’m a little more social, but still quite fine with having beers and watching others do the karaoke and such. I think what alcohol does do is eliminate the anxiety I often get when I’m headed to or just arrive in an environment with lots of people wanting or needing to do lots of different things. I was recently a bridesmaid and I realized that sitting in that room with everyone stressing out about nails, makeup and flowers makes me want to sit in the corner and drink mimosas, or at least one.. to numb the overwhelming anxiety of everyone trying to do the same thing quicker than one another. In other news, I think I’ll be flying to Vegas if someone proposes.

    • JimBob's BBQ says:

      Will you marry me?!?!

      It will be a small ceremony with only a handfull of close friends and family, drinks before the ceremony to calm everyone, and I’ll reserve enough time at the chapel for breaks in the ceremony so we can recharge!

      I vow to love, honor, cherish and give you lots of ‘I’ time. (I’ll need it also)

      If you’re serious, contact me. I already paid for the plane tickets and the honeymoon . . . on one of the lesser-known Hawaiian Islands away from the crowds!

  41. Kraig Kirk says:

    I really appreciate you putting this article together, because it confirms many of my personal experiences as an INTJ kind of guy. I’ve always found I do well when I know how to play the game; unfortunately I’m sometimes oblivious to the rules. Your posts are helping me to understand myself better than ever. Thanks!

  42. Philotera says:

    Bring an introvert is a question of inward-energy as opposed to an extrovert who has outward-energy. Aspergers is completely different.
    I am an introvert, proud INTJ, and I am not shy. In fact, I am assertive, aggressive some would say. I’ve started several companies. Some have failed, some have done OK enough to sell. Introverts can be as successful as extroverts. It depends on what you want. Choose your events. It probably doesn’t matter if you’re chatty at the coffee dispenser. It does matter if you make a strong impression in business meetings. Give yourself the time to know what you’re talking about, or if you don’t, ask for it and then make sure you reset the meeting and hold it. You, fellow introverts, are experts at something. You know what it is. Make sure other people do too.

  43. Maureen Sharib says:

    I always thought abt 30% of the population was introverted. You said “world” held 57% introverts. Are there differences across cultures? I imagine so. I never thought about it.

  44. Erika Harris says:

    In a radio interview given by Dr. Ted Zeff, I heard a really good explanation for the North American bias against introverts and HSPs. My paraphrase of it is this: the pioneering (and colonizing) spirit that founded America drew on skill-sets and tendencies that come naturally to extroverts and non-HSPs. I guess it would follow that the dominant temperament that created a culture would also be the socially favored one.

    And this is not to say that introverts and HSPs can’t be daring or socially extended. But we would be more inclined to use our innate gifts to add beauty, justice and peace within the colony rather than create one. Which points to the symbiotic potential introverts and extroverts ideally share.

    As an INFP and HSP, I’d love to see that ideal popularized. This article helps tremendously. Thanks for lending your voice to this, Penelope.

  45. Lola says:

    http://creativeclass.com/whos_your_city/maps/#Personality_Maps

    this map shows introversion/extraversion by state

    • CeCe says:

      So does the neurotic section relate to us then? I noticed that I am centered in the heart of extroversion, Atlanta, Ga. Maybe I need to move..lol.

  46. Kenneth Wolman says:

    My working life has been one series of career mistakes after another, but the most amazing was three months working as a life insurance salesman in New Jersey. I had no more business selling insurance than I have being a kootchie dancer in Vegas, but I was desperate after 8 months on street with a wife and two kids at home. So I lied. I cheated on the personality test by thinking the real answer and putting down the diametrical opposite. I am sure the branch manager knew it was bullshit…or maybe he did not? In any case I made myself sound like the fat slob on The Family Guy with his gladhanding bullshit. I turned out to be more like Al Bundy, the failed women’s shoe salesman.

    The real issue here is not “being yourself.” In this market it’s all about how effectively you can lie. I’m sorry, but for all the value I place on the truth in my personal life (witness this), I place almost none on what people do to land a job. I answered against type for years. I lied my way into fields where I had no business working, and I made the lies work almost every time. I’m good at it. When you can lie your way through four interviews at Morgan Stanley and keep the lies straight and in a row, you have done something that may not be moral but is as valuable as a hunting rifle when you’re facing down a tiger.

  47. Ty Touchard says:

    I’m a recovering extrovert myself. When college started I was an off the charts extrovert but humbled in the work place and am now an INTJ. Thank you for blogging about this important subject!

  48. Isao says:

    As an INFP I deeply appreciated what you have written and have imagined various implications of being an introvert before I finally remembered I should add my comment…not completing a task is a hallmark of INFPs (dreamers). We are great at initiating multiple projects, and bad at finishing even one of them. Being a technical writer has worked to my advantage because documents do not shout for attention if you leave them unattended for a week. But project management with “real” people has caused mayhem and I have learned that the hard way.

    I remember you mentioning “Self knowledge is the best skill set” or something. I agree wholeheartedly – also with the “Doing what you are” motto.

  49. YJ says:

    “As for you extroverts, stop assuming everyone is like you.” I like that.

  50. Radhika says:

    Great post! Its important that people, in order to fit in, do not forget the advantages that their personalities can leverage.

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