11 tips for working with your introverted employees

People can be extroverted, introverted, or somewhere in between. Our society is chock full of personality types, and learning how to work well with all kinds of people is critical to being an effective manager.

On a day-to-day basis you’ll typically engage with more extroverts than you do introverts. That’s because extroverts are vivacious humans who aren’t afraid to strike up a conversation. Extroverts display charisma, passion, and charm—all the important qualities needed to be a successful employee in this fast-paced market.

Introverts on the other hand, get the short end of the stick and are sometimes labeled as the “Debbie Downers” of the workforce. Admittedly, introverts can be frustrating to work with for those of us who consider ourselves social butterflies. The problem lies in trying to get introverts to open up without pushing them out of their comfort zone. Following are 11 tips that can help you better click with your introverted employees.

#1. Listen: Introverts won’t always speak up when they should, but when they do it’s important to pay attention. These types are careful with what they say and tend to put in a great deal of thought before getting vocal.

#2. Accept silence: Introverted employees won’t have something to say about every project or want to have discussions about work on a daily basis. However, don’t mistake their silence for rudeness, and understand they’re simply quieter than extroverts.

#3. Give introverts their space: People who operate from their inner world of ideas need time to recharge their social batteries. If an introvert retreats into the corner of his office for a while, respect that he needs to take time for himself.

#4. Use e-mail: Reading an email message will take less of your extroverted employee’s energy than a face-to-face conversation, and oftentimes it’s easier to put everything you want to convey in writing than to say it in conversation anyway. (By the way, if you need something explained in an immense amount of detail, ask your introverted employee to write it out. Many are great with these types of tasks.)

#5. Be mindful: An introvert creates energy internally as opposed to drawing energy from her environment. Every interaction you have with an introvert requires a transfer of energy from her supply to yours. Keep in mind that several interactions a day could possibly drain your introverted employee and cause feelings of irritability.

#6. Don’t interrupt: Introverts are good at focusing on work and won’t necessarily appreciate interruptions, especially abrupt ones, when putting the finishing touches on a project. Be respectful of their schedules.

#7. Discover their interests: Getting to know someone who’s not naturally talkative can be challenging, but finding out a few things about him will help you get to know him better.

#8. Provide peace offerings: Fancy chocolates, coffee at a favorite coffee shop, desk-top toys, a handwritten note, or swag from conferences are all great ideas! Small offerings of your appreciation will go a long way in making your introverted employees feel welcome at your company and therefore more comfortable socializing.

#9. Don’t expect them to show up: To company events, that is. Large social gatherings are just not an introvert’s cup of tea. And if she doesn’t come to the company picnic, there’s no need to bring this up when you next see her.

#10. Allow them to telecommute: Because introverts are drained by too much social interaction, letting introverts work from home can be the key to maximizing their productivity.

#11. Plan, plan, and plan: Introverts value their time and their energy to the extreme. So if you know there’s a meeting that’s going to require a huge time commitment, for example, try and let your introverted employees know in advance.

Working with people is hard. Working with people different from you can be really hard. No matter your job description or company culture, however, it’s important to always be aiming toward gaining more skills to help you collaborate with various types of employees.

Extroverted managers—even the best of them—can get stumped when it comes to working with introverts. However, a little strategic communication will go a long way in making or breaking your relationship with these silent types.

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