How to be a productive introvert in a world that loves extroverts

5 proven tips from the author of TED Talk with 9.8k views

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Why it’s time to stop beating yourself up about your introverted nature and start embracing it for the beautiful thing it is! Bestselling author and TED Talk extraordinaire, Susan Cain, shows you how it is in “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.”

Modern society seems to be obsessed with extroverts. People say that we need to be loud, proud, and shout it from the rooftops. The thing is, to show your power and command respect, you don’t always have to be in the faces of other people. 

If you’re a natural introvert, there may be times when you feel forced to act out of character to be taken seriously and to ensure productivity remains at the top of your list. Indeed, work and life, in general, are hectic, and we need to progress through our daily to-do lists amid the noise and general chaos. It’s not the most productive environment for someone who naturally seeks out peace and quiet!

Quiet: The Power of Introverts is the ideal companion for anyone who often feels like they have to act in an extroverted way when in reality, they’re far more towards the introverted side of the scale. In a working environment, it is even more apparent. It seems that if you want to stand out and grab those promotion opportunities, you have to be a vocal team leader who shows their personality in a typically extroverted way.

Does this mean that introverts are less able and less likely to succeed? Far from it. Introverts have the power to be far more effective leaders than extroverts, with creativity and logical thinking just one power they possess. Also, acting in a way that doesn’t come naturally to you can lead to exhaustion and pushes you away from your natural skills. As a result, you’re far less effective than you would be if you embraced your introverted nature and learned how to make the most of it. 

“There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas”  —

Susan Cain

For instance, feeling that you need to be more vocal when dealing with people one on one means that you can’t use your natural empathy to its highest degree. Being forced to work in a loud and highly collaborative environment means that you don’t get the solitude you need to focus on a task and unpick it. It often makes people analyze and come up creatively with new solutions to the problem at hand. All of this means you make more mistakes, miss things, and are generally less productive.

Sure, extroverts might be more “fashionable” these days, but sometimes going against fashion can be more fun!

Top 5 traits of an introvert and why they are useful in life

If you need a little more food for thought, let’s look at the top 5 traits of an introvert and explain why they’re so useful in life. 

1. Creativity — Introverts are known to be highly creative, as they like to think deeply and look at different ways to approach a problem or solve it. This can help you think outside of the box and develop solutions or ideas that are more likely to succeed. 

2. Empathy — Introverts are naturally empathic people and understand how someone feels from their body language and the way they carry themselves. It is the perfect skill for a leader in the workplace and someone who can relate to team members on a personal level. 

3. Analytical skills — Working hand in hand with creativity, introverts like to spend time unpicking a problem and analyzing everything logically. It means a higher quality of work and less chance of making mistakes. 

4. Good listener — The fact that introverts don’t feel the need to fill every silence with chatter means they can really listen to what is someone says. Listening isn’t always about hearing words. It’s about analyzing body language and the words to understand what is going on. For a leader and team member, this is an efficient skill. 

5. The ability to see the bigger picture — While an extrovert might rush into solving a problem, an introvert is more likely to consider the consequences of a decision. They may be slower to make a final choice, but they carefully plan what to choose and, therefore, are less likely to fail. 

Throughout the book, Susan Cain highlights why these traits are beneficial for productivity, self-esteem, and general decision making in everyday life. Extroverts might get more column inches, but that doesn’t mean they’re more effective!

“Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured” 

Susan Cain

Understanding this point allows you to embrace your natural identity and work with it rather than against it. Learn to love who you are, and in return, your confidence and self-esteem will soar. Life isn’t about trying to be someone you’re not, or about trying to fit in with the crowd. Attempting to do so has consequences on your entire life, productivity included. 

Instead, learning to embrace your natural skills and personality will allow you to take your strengths and work on increasing their power.

5 Ways to find optimum conditions to be yourself

We’ve talked about the fact that you need to embrace who you are, but you need the right conditions to do that. So, what situations will make it easier for you to learn to love your introverted nature?

1. Seek out regular time alone — Introverts need solitude regularly to recover from the fast-paced and loud lives we all live. Doing this will allow you to focus on your strengths and perform to the best of your ability. So, schedule in a little “me” time and never cancel it. While you’re working, look for quieter environments, such as quiet zones, booths, and desks with screens around you. How about a full day of total “me” time every week? Perhaps on a Saturday and spend time doing the things you want to do alone. Head out for a coffee, go and see a movie, visit the spa, chill at home — do whatever you want to do without feeling the need to include others. 

2. Learn to say “no” — Never be afraid to say “no” to something you really can’t do. Introverts tend to feel that saying “no” is a bad thing, but it’s right from time to time! It allows you to manage your time more effectively, without overloading yourself and therefore causing you to feel stressed out. For instance, if your friends call you and ask you to go out for coffee, but you want to chill out and recharge your batteries, don’t be afraid to say “no.” You can see them another time!

3. Use your natural creativity — It’s easy to feel like you need to use your logical brain more often. Yet it’s important to remember to embrace your innate creativity too and use it regularly. Look for creative solutions to problems, and don’t be afraid to suggest them, even if you think someone will laugh. Remember, people only make fun of things they don’t understand!

4. Focus on your health and wellbeing — To maintain your calm and emphatic nature, therefore, being a fantastic leader and friend, you need to look after yourself first. Make sure you get plenty of exercises, eat a healthy diet, and always make sure you get enough sleep. It will allow you to remain productive and healthy at the same time. 

5. Cultivate a positive mindset — It can be easy for an introvert to be dragged down by the demands of life, especially if you’re trying to work against your innate nature. Maintain a positive mindset as much as possible, perhaps using positive affirmations to help you.

“So stay true to your own nature. If you like to do things in a slow and steady way, don’t let others make you feel as if you have to race”

Susan Cain

It never works when you are trying to be something you’re not. Equally, feeling ashamed to be who you are because society wants you to be something different will lead to low self-esteem and a lack of general productivity.

The answer? Learn to appreciate your introverted nature and understand why sometimes being a little quieter is a better option than shouting from the rooftops! Throughout “Quiet: The Power of Introverts,” Susan Cain helps introverts feel in control of their personality. She highlights why the traits associated with introversion are far more beneficial than we’re lead to believe. 

At the end of the day, do you want to live your life being someone you’re not? It’s like trying to force a square peg into a round hole — it just doesn’t work, and eventually, it chips away at the edges, causing damage. Look after yourself by being yourself, no matter what society says.

Want to know more?  

For further reading on productivity for introverts, check out the summary of this bestseller.  

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