Introverts make up anywhere between a third to a half of the American population, so it’s safe to assume that they represent a large number of the country’s workforce as well. If you’re an introvert working within an extroverted company culture, however, it can sometimes be difficult to feel like you fit in with your peers.
While you might work differently than your colleagues, it’s important to remember this isn’t a shortcoming and you shouldn’t feel pressure to change! Rather, it’s about finding a balance between a process that allows you to be successful and the needs of the organization. Though it’s never easy to step out of your comfort zone, there are several ways for you to break out of your shell and build connections at work:
1. Speak up during meetings
As an introvert, it may feel more natural to take a back seat during meetings. However, actively participating and speaking up in meetings is important if you want to give your input on a project or have your ideas heard. To help yourself feel more comfortable doing this, write down questions or ideas you may have beforehand. Acting on the fly may not be a strong suit, but being prepared ahead of time will allow you to be more confident when speaking to larger groups.
2. Manage social commitments
Aside from building relationships with coworkers in the office, do make the effort to spend time with them outside the office as well. Whether it’s going to a happy hour or a more business-oriented lunch, this can help you build more personal connections with your colleagues. Start by scheduling something with your team and, once you are comfortable with that, try and set up something with more people in the office.
3. Make Time For Yourself
As an introvert, you do want to make an effort to get outside of your comfort zone. However, you shouldn’t do so if it impedes your productivity and impact in the office. If you ever feel overwhelmed by what’s going on in your work environment, remember that it’s okay for you to take a step back and decompress. Whether that’s taking a walk and grabbing a cup of coffee or finding a secluded spot to jot down your thoughts after a meeting, doing these things will ultimately put you at ease.
4. Create a personal space
One of the most important things you should do if you’re an introvert is make sure your work space is personalized to you. Bringing pictures of family and friends, as well as other small items that are special to you, will help create an environment that makes you feel more at home. This can be especially important in an open floor office plan where these items can help you strike up a conversation with coworkers about family and shared interests.