T here are a lot of misconceptions about introverts – like that they’re antisocial, unfriendly, shy or lonely. But in many cases, being an introvert can actually be an asset.
Introverts are people who get their energy from spending time alone, according to Dr. Jennifer Kahnweiler, author of The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength. “It’s kind of like a battery they recharge,” she says. “And then they can go out into the world and connect really beautifully with people.”
A 2008 study published in the Journal of Motor Behavior found that introverts take a longer time to process information than extroverts. Kahnweiler says this is actually because they process more thoughtfully than extroverts do – they take extra time to understand ideas before moving on to new ones.
While we’re all often flooded with messages that we need to speak up and stand out in order to be successful, introverts can actually achieve even more if they hone their natural strengths, says Beth Buelow, author of The Introvert Entrepreneur: Amplify Your Strengths and Create Success on Your Own Terms.
They’re good listeners
Introverts are naturally adept when it comes to actively listening, according to Buelow, who identifies as an introvert herself. “We tend to be the friend or colleague you can call on when you’re upset or you have good news to share,” she says. “We’re going to be able to listen and be with you in that, without turning it around and making it about us.”
Extroverted people are more inclined to jump into a conversation before fully processing what the other person has said. Not because they’re selfish or don’t care, but because they process information interactively, says Dr. Laurie Helgoe, author of Introvert Power: Why Your Hidden Life is Your Hidden Strength.
Conversely, introverts process information internally, Helgoe says. That skill allows them to hear, understand and provide carefully considered insight when they do respond.
They think before they speak
Because introverts typically feel less comfortable speaking than they do listening, they choose their words wisely, according to Buelow. “We only speak when we have something to say, so there is a higher chance that we will have an impact with our words,” she says.
That being said, introverts may take a little too long to formulate their thoughts before sharing them – especially in fast-paced business settings. To combat that tendency, Buelow suggests that introverts should go into meetings prepared to speak first, before there’s time to talk themselves out of it wat is countrymatch. “Break your own ice,” she says, advising introverts to share a piece of data or an opening remark for the top of the meeting. “Establish your presence early on before the conversation gets thicker and more competitive.”
The skill of choosing your words wisely is just as beneficial online as it is in person. Introverts are more effective on social media because they’re less prone to knee-jerk reactions than extroverts, says Kahnweiler.
“Some people are just throwing thoughts everywhere, randomly posting everything – not introverts,” she says. “There’s a strategy that they take.”
In addition to their superior listening skills, introverts possess what Buelow considers a “superpower”: their observation skills. “We notice things others might not notice because they’re talking and processing out loud,” she says. Although it may look like they’re just sitting quietly during a meeting, introverts are actually soaking in the information that’s being presented and thinking critically.
The typical introvert also uses his or her observant nature to read the room. They’re more likely to notice people’s body language and facial expressions, which makes them better at interpersonal communication, according to Kahnweiler.