Introvert At Work

7 Signs You’re Viewed As An Introvert At Work


While I don’t have a scientific study to cite, I can say that, in my last 10+ years as a career coach, I’ve worked with a lot of people who’ve labeled themselves as “introverts” on-the-job. Their stories helped me to identify some common examples that indicate a person is being perceived as an introvert at work.

Signs You’re Viewed As An Introvert At Work

Here are seven signs you might be viewed as an introvert at work:

1.) You don’t have many colleagues you could call “work friends” at the office.

2.) Your manager and colleagues regularly forget to respond to your emails.

3.) You are left out of meetings.

4.) You’ve been passed over for promotion.

5.) People avoid eye contact with you.

6.) People choose to email you their requests as opposed to ask for them in-person.

And most importantly,

7.) You feel helpless to change your status at work, and therefore, try to fly “under the radar” so you don’t have to interact with others.

How Does Being “Introverted” Affect Your Job Search?

If being labeled and introvert on-the-job has given you trouble, then we can only imagine how it has impacted your job search. We are looking for stories and examples from our readers on how being an introvert has challenged you professionally. Specifically, tell us about how it has impacted your:

Personal Brand – How you present yourself to the professional world.

Networking – How you interact with peers in your industry.

Interviewing – How you connect with hiring managers in an interview.

Please share your stories in the comments below. Our goal is to use your examples as part of an upcoming webinar series designed to help introverts in job search. We’ll be providing information and resources to help introverts find the career satisfaction they want and deserve.

BUT, we need your stories so we can ensure we create the best tutorial – so please help us by sharing below!

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

J.T. O'Donnell

Job Search & Career Expert. Syndicated Speaker & Author. Wife. Mother. CEO of CAREEREALISM Media. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.


  1. First of all, the headline does put a negative light on introverts. Secondly, these 7 “Signs” you’re viewed as an introvert are not signs of that at all, they are signs of 1) lack of professionalism (people should answer their email regardless, and apologize if there are delays) 2) purposefully isolating or alienating people in the workplace (ignoring you or leaving you out of meetings) and 3) this article implies that being an introvert imbues said introvert with powerlessness and incapability to deal with challenges.

    I am of the mind that managers, recruiters, hiring teams, etc. should be trained on the benefits of introversion and the diversity introverts can bring to a work environment and a business model. I’ve been personally coached to not describe myself as an introvert to employers during interviews, because it supposedly has a “negative connotation” and might not be what employers are looking for. While I understand that some jobs might be more difficult for introverts and that some jobs are not suited for specific types of people, many great leaders have been introverts. Speakers, politicians, writers, educators, the list goes on.

    I have been lucky to find a job that combines my desire to help people in education and cultivate meaningful relationships as well as my desire to create ideas and new projects on an individual basis. My past experience in retail and other more commercial industries has shown me that being an introvert is looked down upon. Not being the first to speak, not being particularly adept at small talk, and not being social at all times can be seen as a sign of arrogance (I’m above you because I don’t talk to you), self-fulfilling loneliness (no wonder that person doesn’t have any friends), and even insubordination. Another bane of the introvert is the “resting crabby face” where we are merely in thought or reflection, and people view us as unapproachable, angry-looking, or boring. There are far too many negative judgments placed upon introverts solely because of their silence, even if they speak later once they have collected and processed their thoughts.

    Being an introvert has definitely affected me in my job search. It has affected how I approach interviews, and I carefully describe myself in cover letters and resumes. It is sad that labeling and self-describing as an introvert can turn you into a Boo Radley of sorts, the town shut-in who everyone is afraid of and no one sees. I hope this will change in the future, but until articles start describing introverts as positive contributors to society, unlike this one, then the sad reality is that this reality is sad.

  2. I’m good at what I do, the problem is that they keep piling on more and more. In my office, we have one woman who gets a pass on everything (she’s a single mother and needs the money, so sits on her tail and doesn’t do anything because she feels safe). We have three women, ‘the clique’, who sit around visiting all day. The boss visits with them often enough and,apparently, doesn’t see that they do absolutely nothing. When they aren’t in each others cubes visiting, they are texting. They also have company from other departments who visit, staying 45 minutes at a time. Because they are friendly with boss, they can come and go as they please and take extra time at lunch, etc, without penalty. There is my supervisor, an introvert like myself, who feels she is being punished (and it sure looks like she is) but can’t find out why. The clique has been mean to her for over a year, almost a year and a half. So, she’s made me her best friend. I, too, have about had it with the slackers but I don’t know what to do. I do my work and get even more piled on. Then I get visits from my super and have to listen to her complain. Now, she’s making noises that we should both walk out, that’ll show ‘em! I may quit but it won’t be on her terms. And, she can easily get another job because her degree’s field is wide open; I’m not in that boat and would have a harder time. I feel like I’m walking on egg shells all day, every day. Thanks for letting me vent. I’m stuck.

  3. Being an introvert has definitely hurt me in the workplace. While I am admired for my work ethic, I am always forgotten. My colleagues always mention that I never have any mindless questions like anyone else but I do not because it has either been stated previously or I actually read the documents required before attending the meeting. There are various sports leagues at my place of employment but no one ever asks me. While sometimes I like the feeling of being able to do my work without all of the distractions that everyone faces, it hinders my ability to network because I am not invited to meetings or external events.

  4. I was recently terminated from a job for, basically, being an introvert. they couldn’t provide examples of poor job performance, all they could tell me is that they needed the department to be “cohesive” – whatever that means. i was highly offended. but, the good news is that I’ll be able to collect unemployment. I’m really trying to find a company that will allow me to play to my strengths. I desperately want to be happy at work, and not be terminated for just being me.

  5. In my opinion, introverts tend to be discriminated against when it comes to jobs– that includes hiring and promotions. This world is run by extroverts that seem to ignore some of the positive qualities that introverts possess. This discrimination, not to mention lack of understanding and appreciation of introvert qualities, is part of the reason that I am now self-employed. Introverts are more concerned with real, authentic relationships than being the life of the party. I love meeting other introverts, because I know they are going to be great people who are thoughtful, introspective, and respectful of others’ time, thoughts, and personal space.

  6. Introverts can be sociable! We can be thoughtful, observant, and very very knowledgeable! Read “The Charisma Myth” by Olivia Fox Cabane – Develop visionary charisma, kindness charisma, authority charisma, focus charisma — none of which happen if you’re totally drunk and dancing on the tables at the bar with 250 other people until midnight!

  7. These aren’t signs you’re viewed as an introvert. These are signs you’re going to be laid off sometime soon and people are distancing themselves.

    If people view you as an introvert and like you and your work, chances are they’ll just stay out of your way so you can do your job properly.

  8. Instead of focusing on helping Introverts act like extroverts to get a jobe, how about doing a tutorial for hiring managers that explains the innate strengths that many introvert have and why quiet excellence should be valued more that loud mediocrity.

  9. UGH is all I can say! Veteran introvert here. It seems like I “endured” college, holding my breath and DREADING speaking in class, giving presentations, group work, and the horrible phrase: ‘Mandatory class participation.’ Once all that noise was over with, I entered the workplace with the same problems, only to realize that it gets worse. I grew sick and tired to being told that I needed to improve. My “leadership” skills weren’t great, blah blah blah. I always knew my strengths- creativity, innovation, conceptualizing, taking direction, well-written (even if I wasn’t well-spoken, haha) despite being a quiet one. Recently I had an epiphany that I don’t have to change at ALL. That was a real eye-opener. I would agonize over the leadership/authoritative thing. I’d always try to be something I wasn’t, and I was NOT happy. I’m very passive by nature, and taking control and telling people what to do was never my strong point. I HATE the spotlight, unless it’s something I worked hard on and excelled at. Then it’s okay, lol. The key for me was EMBRACING and celebrating all that I was, and to stop pretending and modling myself into something I wasn’t. Once I said “f*** it” the workplace got much easier.

  10. As an introvert I have a terrible time in interviews. Extroverts talk and think simultaneously and for me that is impossible. This causes me to be way too honest in my answers because the truth comes fastest in my mind. Not that extroverts lie,but I believe they are better at stretching, bending, and exaggerating their answers due to their ability to talk and think simultaneously.

    • unfortunately, these extrovers that ‘stretch, bend, and exaggerate” are the ones that get promoted; because they can bull…. their way to the top. Execs love leaders who can yak away and hold a meeting for an hour or two; it doesn’t matter if their audience is bored. They are also extremely adept at keeping a poker face through anything.

      All the qualities I never had. One day companies and execs will appreciate all the differences in people. Diversity is what keeps companies in business.

    • “This causes me to be way too honest in my answers because the truth comes fastest in my mind. ”

      That is me all the way. It’s sad really, because I think I have not gotten jobs for being too honest. I know people who have been terminated from jobs, but lied as to the reason why when little ole honest me is truthful as to why she has been terminated from a job due to an honest mistake.

  11. As human beings we are can not satisfy everyone. Be authentic, embrace being and introvert and know your worth. God does not make mistakes.

  12. I think this topic needs to be explored further. My first qualms with it is the negative connotation in the title – as if being viewed as an introvert is equated with having an innate shortcoming or flaw. I recommend you read Susan Cain’s book Quiet which compiles some of the most fascinating and compelling research on introverts and the significance of their personality when contributing to a company.

    • Stephanie:

      I absolutely agree… and my EXTROVERTED nature forces me to say so… which is why alot of Introverts aren’t heard… We Extros speak too soon and too much…

      As I grow older, I am working feverishly – and telling everyone I know – to develop my Introverted style… Through things like reading more and meditation… and, as you can see, it isn’t working just yet…

      That said, I no longer (although once DID) see Intros as “flawed”… Instead I am WORKING to become more like them…

  13. this whole article is silly. Yes, the headline DOES imply that being an introvert is a bad thing, even if the author is just “the messenger”. The messenger from whom or where? Move on and read a good book such as “Quiet: The Power of Introverts” by Susan Cain

  14. I believe there are many many good things to being Introvert or Extrovert in the workplace. The characteristics listed by the author above strike me as corporate culture revitalisation needed – may be the CEO or MD needs to take more time walking around the office and observing just how respectfully his or her people treat one another for their differences.

  15. I used to be very open and social and felt good at work. I have since developed fibromyalgia which makes me want to have quiet all around me and it’s a real effort to socialize or network. There are sometimes health reasons that people act certain ways; so everyone may want to not judge and give the quiet ones a bit of a break. Try to communicate with them in a more private setting. They would probably appreciate it.

  16. I go back and forth with this. I get along with a lot of folks at work, but I feel like in the small team I directly work in, I feel like I am not part of their team – if that makes sense? (its me, four other girls and then our boss- but all of us support engineers for our own projects – i feel more comfortable around the engineers more so than my team – if that makes sense). I don’t know if this is a self esteem issues or what. I took the Myers Briggs test and I am an ESJF so maybe its the SJ part where I feel lonely at work. I also get the feeling my boss does not like me. She checks in with the other girls sometimes, but never me. She has also personally attacked me on my personal habits, but then does it herself (i.e. she has asked me in a polite way to stop cracking my gum (yes its a bad habit I know!) which I did – yet she cracks it herself? – practice what you preach is what I feel like telling her). I truly do not like going to work anymore because I feel this way.

  17. I’ve aquired a job as a supervisor, been with the company for almost a year.
    I find myself butting heads with my department head.
    This happens with all jobs I aquire.
    Introvert or what?

  18. I’m not sure wether my comment is relevant, but I am both an intro- and extravert person at work.
    I do not hesit to talk to people around me, to take time for them to explain things or to deliver a training. On the other side, as soon as I have to report things to my manager, I am frozen. I am unable to contradict her or to suggest new ideas, which is silly, obviously.
    Some 2 years ago I did a MBTI test and I was a little inch more an introvert than extravert. Because many colleagues have no issue talking with me, being a kind of “go-to person”, they were very astonished at the result.
    Anne (Paris, France)

  19. What you describe in your post is not introversion, it is social anxiety, or extreme shyness. You can’t help me, an introvert, with career advice if you label it as pertaining to introverts when it really pertains to social anxiety or shyness.

    We need to agree on the definition of words to communicate effectively.

    • Further to my last post: introversion refers to deriving energy from solitary pursuits and extroversion refers to deriving energy from social interaction. Example: you’re feeling tired after a long day at work. Do you want to go to a great party as a “pick-me-up” or do you want to read a good book to recharge?

      • In light of what Sharon shared, I agree with her definition of introversion/extroversion. I find that at work I am more extroverted in that I am energized by being around my co-workers. I don’t necessarily talk or interact constantly, but I am available for interaction, input, conversation, etc. and like to participate as a team member. Yet, when I need to get things accomplished, I become more focused on the task at hand and not as “social, talkative” if you will.

  20. I’m a slightly expressed introvert. INTP on the Meyers-Briggs. I’m more introverted in my personal life than professionally. Until now, I apply a those to my coworkers. I prefer to be alone and left out at this job. I take it as one of many signs that this was aid take borne out of economic desperation.

    I would ask someone who is so introverted at work as to

  21. Examples of when being a conflict-averse introvert presented challenges:

    1. My silence interpreted as agreement, or not being interested. More likely I was listening and processing. Listen now, speak later.

    2. When criticized I did not ask “what is it about me you seem to dislike?” Instead I remained silent because I do not like conflict.

    3. As the relationship deteriorated between my raging extrovert boss and I there were fewer meetings to which I was invited. I would however be invited by other managers and executives who valued my knowledge and experience. What do you think my boss thought when I arrived at meetings to which he had not invited me?

    4. Not losing my cool and ranting and raving was viewed by my boss as “not getting it.”

    • Dear Me,

      It is obvious that the problem was with your boss and not your introverted personality. Continue to embrace your uniqueness and know “what is for you is for you” regardless of your bosses character issues. As a leader he/she is called to set an example for his/her “subordinates.” However,everyone who holds a “leadership position is not a leader. You exemplified Dale Carnegie’s ideal of a “Class – Act” in the “Make Yourself Unforgettable” audio. Congratulations your value, knowledge and experience were acknowledged by others!!

      • Yes, my value was acknowledged by others, including the founder of the company. That did not save me though when my boss decided to eliminate me.

    • That was the story of my work life at this point last year. My horrific, bully/tyrant of an ex-boss would criticize me for 20 minutes straight without letting me explain anything, then all I could say when he was finally done was “mm-hmm.” He didn’t like that either, so that would launch him into another string of put-downs and berating comments. 7 months of pure hell. Happily, I am not in that position today.

  22. As a “slightly expressed introvert” I feel impelled to respond.

    Please describe what you mean by “introvert”. It’s been my experience that many extroverts completely misunderstand what it means to be introverted.

    Most of my professional life I have had excellent relationships with coworkers and managers. Only a few times has my “introversion” presented a problem and that was typically due to conflict with a raging extrovert.

  23. As an introvert, networking drains me the most.

    However, I recently discovered a book
    This book is written by an introvert. Author discusses the “extroverted” world we live in and how to get the most out still staying true to yourself.
    Also she presents different strategies on how to network without getting drained or crazy)
    Good read

  24. Hmmm. #1, #2, and #6. Not all workers even HAVE a work email!! You can’t assume that all of the working people in America have a work email. Many do not work in an office. I worked in education and I was on-call (I worked 32 – 40 hours a week, but still on-call and they got out of paying me health care benefits by putting me down as on-call) and did I get a work email? No.

    Was I told of meetings? Well, that depends. Some meetings I didn’t go to/was not invited since I was not a full-time worker. Some meetings I was required to go to. Some meetings I was not required. And some messages did not get to me. Why? I was an on-call worker.

    I remember one time there was some information that all staff should have known and only the full-timers got an email. (On-call staff do not get a work email). A co-worker of mine said “Didn’t you get an email about bla bla bla?” I said, “I’m on-call”. She got the message, she knew on-call workers don’t get a nice-ity such as work email. Oh, and this employer also didn’t give you work cell phones either. If you didn’t have your personal cell phone – you were left out of the loop big time. (I did use my personal cell back then and that employer ran up my personal cell phone bill to $250 a month. I made my employer pay since I went over my minute plan all the time. They’d NEVER call my home phone number. I don’t know why employers don’t do as you ask them. If I get free long distance . . .please call me on my home phone. There is no such thing as “going over minutes” on a home/landline phone.

    I know I went on a rabbit trail AGAIN, but you can’t assume things in the working world. Not everyone even gets to have a thing like a work email and if you are left “out” of things, it may NOT be due to being “introverted”, it may be just due to your on-call status!

  25. Thank you, J.T., for addressing this issue!

    I have felt more and more uncomfortable at work lately, despite many years in my profession. It honestly never occured to me that my being an introvert was the cause of my problems at work. I have been toiling over this for a few weeks, now. I was passed over for a promotion despite many many more years of experience. Having folks suddenly become quiet when I walk in a room, and being ridiculed or ignored whenever I attempt to join in a conversation, makes it hard to want to belong. Yet I do all that is asked of me, with a warm smile and kind heart, to the best of my ability, every day.

    For those of you who choose to be something you are not while at work, to succeed, more power to you. But I look to a time when you will be able to be your true self without the drain on your energy. A time when the differences of introverts/extroverts are truly appreciated by all employers.

    In my situation, being an introvert is looked upon as being “different” and antisocial. But I like being different! And in the right crowd, I flow gracefully in all conversations. Negative work environments and personalities can have a huge impact on this complex uniqueness. And so I am not thriving.

    I share the traits of 1,2,3,4 and 5. I am one of the quiet people who prefer to get the job done very well and then get home to where it is quiet. My efforts seem never appreciated or noticed. My ideas are stolen and used with no recognition for me. I don’t think the folks I work with even know what an introvert is, let alone understand the dynamics. I’m so happy we are finally defining and researching this subject, because I believe a day will come when introverts are sought out for their contributions, especially for specific jobs. Until then, many of us will go from job to job, seeking a place where we feel accepted, appreciated and honored for our immense value.

    My intention was to do yet another job search today, when I saw the compelling title of your post. Like an answer to a prayer, I suddenly had some real insight into what I am dealing with at my job of 3 years. This, and the feeling of comraderie with all the nice people who have made positive comments here and shared their stories, has given me a new strength. My head is a little higher now, though I will still do that job search. Good luck, and a big “Thank You,” all!

  26. I read the post fully and I don’t agree with the seven signs listed as they are only presented as negative and don’t even touch on the positives of being an introvert. I also think the article takes the negative to the extreme. If you are an introvert and you are being treated that way at work, it is time to find a new employer who will respect you for your individuality and abilities to contribute.

    I also think that the author is likely NOT an introvert and should do some more research about introverts before writing anything about this particular personality type. Might I suggest the following reading material:

    Workplaces should respect all types of personalities and if one is favored over the other I can say from experience — creativity is stifled and productivity goes down. I’ve seen people sit around a conference table “talking” and “extroverting” for hours. In that time I could have finished the entire project and moved on to the next.

    I’m an introvert and I’ve never had any problems finding jobs. I look for the qualities that make the potential organization well-rounded and progressive on workplace dynamics. Not just favoring one personality type over the other.

    The post does “perpetuate the devaluing of introversion” and therein lies a large part of the issue in workplaces today. Very disappointed with this one-sided presentation.

  27. Great feedback. I am an introvert, but I can’t say that I have experienced any of these signs at work. In my experience, the best thing you can have is self awareness. Find out for you what works and what doesn’t and try your best to accommodate. For example, I know that I am quiet and more introverted when I first start at a job. I try my best to be a bit more extroverted. I do this by asking people questions about the company or themselves as it pertains to work. This is difficult at first, but often gets easier as I become more familiar with the environment, knowledgeable about my role, and get to know people a bit better. I try my best to be professional and work oriented. I often find that I may “hide” myself behind this, but it is respected and works well for me until I am more comfortable.

    One thing I really don’t like at work, is group lunches. For example the ladies in my office often get together to go out for lunch on someone’s birthday. I often don’t attend these as they make me uncomfortable, but often ask to go to lunch with someone one on one, as I can handle that. Somethings you won’t be able to avoid, like a large meetings, but you may know that you need to take a quick break after to relax for a few minutes. I often like to volunteer to take the minutes during a meeting. This gives me a job to do and I find that is less pressure in provide input, but I am still involved.

    Another comment stated that maintaining a large social media presence in exhausting – And I couldn’t agree more. Having a social media presence does feel like a requirement for job seekers. I am nervous about the idea of reaching out to potential recruiters or hiring managers to connect. Following up and maintaining such relationships is also draining. I am unsure how to stand out as unique and different. If I go to a networking event, I usually try to bring a friend, but often spend most of the night speaking with them. Still working on this one.

  28. Did anyone actually read this post? First, it’s not an article. The ‘list’ is things which have been brought to the authors attention that one MIGHT be an introvert at work. The author asked for thoughts regarding this and how this POTENTIAL label either you or others have placed on you has affected you in the work place, IF AT ALL. And now people are attacking the author who posted this for research purposes only. Come on people, if you have nothing intelligent to add to research questions, don’t post anything. Referencing the author as ‘intellectually retarded’ is out of line. It is clear many did not read this post in full and may want to do so before posting abusive and insulting comments.

    • It’s nice of you to defend the author, but if she was the least bit intelligent on the subject, she would know how much of an asset introverts are on the job and that extroverts are not the sole successful ones as she implies. It’s how she labels introverts, and derogatorily how others may view them in the office. Quite ignorantly, at that. The way one communicates is everything, and she fails at properly getting any point across here.

    • There is no place for harsh words, I agree. But I don’t think anyone who’s responded as such “clearly did not read the post”. The entire piece frames introverts in a negative light. “Trouble”, “labeled”, “challenged”, and “impacted” are not empowering words and are used repeatedly in the post. Even those two sentences about helping us with a webinar still come across as degrading, like we’re cursed and need help. The title also suggests it’s about others’ perceptions and labeling, instead of people feeling powerless due labeling themselves.

      A much better framing – which is what I believe was the author’s intent, and is the question I answered in my post before – is “How have you overcome areas of the workplace that typically challenge introverts?” Because really, this is about peoples’ negative perceptions of themselves as introverts, and how we can reverse that attitude. So let’s help her with that.

    • I find it sad that You would feel the need to attack respondents to this article. I too could start making assumptions about others and definitely find that insulting others by calling their intelligence into question a surefire way to be a AssUMer.

      Now I read this article fully and to me it seems more like an advertisement for 2 things. 1 they want introverts horror stories about the job, why? so they can 2 turn that around into a money making webinar. Frankly any horror stories I have about my job aren’t necessarily due to my introversion but rather my inexperience and insecurities. Something only I can correct. So thanks but no thanks. And before you go insulting my intelligence along with everyone elses here, I suggest you take a look in the mirror today.

  29. This is the most ignorant article on “introverts” I’ve read yet (and there’s a lot of them out there). You’re not referring to introverts, you’re referring to losers or lepers or something, but to equate the two is outrageous. Who are you to tell people that if they don’t have “work friends” it’s likely because they’re not an extrovert (or viewed as one)? Perhaps their office is full of ignoramuses like you? Maybe you, and people like you, are the problem? Where do you get off making out like introversion (perceived or not) is a disability, rather than the natural and effective social strategy that is. I pity the fool that goes to you for career advice. Or any advice at all. Please keep to subjects you know something about, like ignorance and intellectual retardation.

    • In certain chain-saw type corporate cultures, having manners and an analytical presence can be labelled “introversion” as a put-down.
      Frankly, if I owned a company I would put equal value on introverts and extroverts. Both types can shine in their own way. A worthwhile employer already knows this.

    • NeedAJobSinceYesterday

      Gotta agree with Brian on this one. Avoiding eye contact and forgetting to respond to someone emails sounds like someone is going out of their way to avoid a person because they aren’t liked by anyone! I am sick of people equating introverts to losers with no life. This article should be re-titled how to know if you are the office clown; these qualities do not speak for me or my introverted friends. I get along just fine in my work environments, the people who matter the most know my strengths and weaknesses and know what I’m capable of. My introversion has never held me back from giving my best every employer that I’ve ever had has called me one of their best employees and know I always perform the duties of my job above and beyond.

      • The article describes active dislike. I treat my job this way. I feel helpless like in the last point because the market in my area is do bad that this is all I can get. I feel emotionally helpless that I have to do this job and work with these people for the foreseeable future. I am actively looking but it will be hard to go to an interview while employed here. I can’t quit.

        I apply points 1-6 to them. I hate group lunches because I lose my “away” time.

        The point being that a person treated like this is not liked. I don’t think introversion or extroversion is the reason. They are just not liked.

      • My boss forgets to respond to my email. I hate it – or it takes her two days to write back. It makes me feel like she doesn’t care/or doesn’t like me.

  30. I couldn’t agree more the seven items listed. Scores of personality tests have labeled me neither introverted nor extroverted but I vacillate as needed for situations. Outside of work I naturally network, have many acquaintances, a few friends and people generally like me….Inside work is a different story. My extroverted side and flat out refusal to play the game, has landed me in hot water a number of times at work. And while I’ve never been fired from a job, typically my work environment will become hostile and I quit. (By not playing the game I’m referring to the unspoken expectation of women to act in a particular fashion at work. I think more like a man at work where I come here to work hard, get the job done and leave. I’m not going to bake cookies, laugh at your un-funny jokes and let you invade my personal space…that’s an entirely different article though.)

    From these experiences, spanning 15 years, I have become an introvert and a ‘yes-man’ at work. This also, if proving just as lethal. After two years at my current company, I haven’t one work friend. I went for a job promotion and was told I was not going to get the job because, “Nobody knows you; you’re ambiguous. And nobody knows what you do.” Really? To make matters worse, my boss was sitting right there as the insults kept flying. I went back to my desk defeated and at a loss at to why, if nobody knows what I do, why have they not let me go? I’m my bosses only employee and they don’t know what I do? Sounds like failure on their part to properly manage me.

    I was also asked why I never attend any of the company meetings. For one, in two years, I’ve never been asked to attend followed by the command that I’m to be tied to my desk and cannot leave unless I get someone else to sit at it. Instead of being in a company where I feel I can grow, they respect me and I them, I feel a sense of deep disappointment, betrayal and failure. I’ve been pigeonholed in my current position with little growth opportunity before me and the only option they have left me is to leave the company. I have even witnessed at my current company, a very capable introvert not even considered for a promotion because “they do not have the ability to speak in public.” I asked, “Have you ever given them the chance?” The response was, “No, however, we feel it would be best to bring on new blood regardless.”

    I’m shocked that organizations are at a loss as to why employees don’t seem loyal anymore. It’s a no-brainier. You’re not loyal to us. And after being passed over for promotions so you can ‘bring on new blood’ instead of training and developing your current staff on hand, you leave people no choice but to leave your company. The good news in all of the emotional abuse I suck up on a daily basis, I’m now inspired to start my own company. One in which won’t treat people as poorly as I’ve been treated in my career.
    Hope this helps!

    • I am intrigued by your comment that every environment you ever worked “became hostile”. It’s been my experience the environment is hostile to begin with unless there is a tremendous culture shift, usually due to new management or cataclysmic change in financial position which promotes stressful reactions by existing management.

      • Definitely not every, I did say typically they would become hostile. Sometimes they were hostile to begin with and I realized that after I started. Twice it was for quid pro quo I refused. Once for reporting sexual harassment to my boss, who told the manager, who told the guy at work she was sleeping with, who told everyone. Now, it’s a higher up asked my opinion, I gave it (not realizing he just wanted me to agree with him) and now he’s out for blood and making my work life hell. It doesn’t help that my boss is spineless and refuses to stick up for me. The list goes on…

    • I have been criticized for non disclosure of personal parts of my life in my workplace. I also don’t “socialize” with people at work when I’m off the clock. The extroverts want, even demand, to be in your life if they will support you for promotion. If you’re outside their “pal” network, you WILL be passed over, unless you have a patron who is an introvert and understands.

  31. Wow. Quite the put down and generalization towards introverts I see here. If anyone has noticed, it’s the introverts that provide the strength to a business, preferring to work behind the scenes and giving a back bone to the workforce of a company. I suggest that the author read some books such as Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain or The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World by Sophia Dembling. We may not speak as much as the big talking extroverts, but without us, nothing would get done.

    I’m so put off by this post, I will be unsubscribing from Careeralism altogether, because your representation is the site sites negativity towards the very people you should be commending. If you only cared to look.

  32. JT:

    I am – as I believe you are – a FLAMING EXTROVERT… That said, I think your post is a little harsh on our Introverted Brothers & Sisters… I think many of the “7 Signs” go beyond health Introversion to “Disengaged”… and being disengaged is NOT healthy…

    I need “healthy Introverts” in my life… I think our workplaces do too…

    • Workplaces do need introverts, and they don’t succeed without them. If we were all yapping away, who would be doing the real work? The work behind the scenes? The author has no clue the real contribution that both extroverts and introverts make to an organization, and how working together is what brings balance and success. I’m really disgusted with her post frankly, and she needs to apologize with her sweeping generalizations toward people unlike herself.

  33. I too have experienced alot of introversion especially no.1 and 4.But what helps me keep going is the fact that i know my goal and and am ready to achieve it regardless of what people brand me to be. The fact is you are what u are not what people call u

  34. I am an avowed introvert, but only in the case of one very challenging work setting have I experienced any of the outcomes (and not all of them) that this article associates with introversion. In that instance, I feel strongly that it was not necessarily my introversion that caused difficulty and discomfort for me. I have learned over the years that it is possible and helpful to adopt the demeanor of an extrovert, and that is the hat that I wear while at work. I can say that it can be exhausting at times, and I always look forward to a brief retreat to recharge and renew at the end of a long day.

  35. Although difficult to swallow, you are touching a very delicate point for us introverts.

    Your post discloses that, whether we -introverts- like it or not, some employers perceive introverts differently. Unfortunately, this is a negative perception that leads them to feel no obligation to respond to our communications and leave us out of meetings; hence, it is not strange that we are passed over for promotions, neglected, or even let go.

    Things can get worst when an introvert shares responsibilities with an extrovert because of the contrast. The introverted person is generally the quiet brains behind the operation, but the extrovert is usually the loud person that spills the word and gets credit for the good results. There is no doubt on who will get an edge when the opportunity of a promotion comes.

    I agree with some comments to your post in the sense that there is nothing wrong with being introverted. Then, it is not so much a matter of helping us out, but rather of educating the employers on the benefits of working with introverted people and on the reasons why we should not be subject to what appears to be some kind of discrimination. There is always room for improvement for both, introverts and extroverts.

  36. I disagree with the signs, J.T., but that is neither here nor there. You asked for examples so here are a few from a confirmed introvert:

    Personal Brand – Introverts are often misunderstood in the office simply because they are quiet. We’re quiet for several reasons ranging from wanting to finish a task to having read the office politics and decided to keep the personal personal. Something I ran into at my last job was being seen as not a team player because I refused to divulge personal information about my life. A supervisor referred to it as being unfriendly. No, it’s more I’m a professional who doesn’t believe in using office hours to gossip or discuss relationship issues. My response to the claim of being unfriendly? “Well, I could sit in my cube all day and chat and then work till late in the evening trying to catch-up, or I can do the job you’re paying me to do and that my clients rely on me to do.” I left the position after 3-and-a-half years of watching people willing to engage in personal gossip move forward, earn more, etc. Maybe something in your tutorial on how introverts can engage while still staying out of the politics?

    Networking – Oy. I can’t begin to explain how exhausting this has become. I read articles about how I should have 500+ LinkedIn contacts, an active Twitter feed, an active (and clean) Facebook, a blog, a brain, a brand webpage… What is says to me is that unless I’m an internet addict, a recruiter doesn’t want to hire me. Even for extroverts that is an exhausting amount of requirement simply to be considered for a job. Not hired, mind; simply to be considered in the running. Perhaps you can include something on how everyone, not just introverts, can juggle what is becoming an increasing internet work load.

    Thank you, J.T. Looking forward to the article.

  37. This article absolutely perpetuates the devaluing of introversion and dichotmous thinking where people are categorized as either this OR that, where one term is valourized and the other demonized.

    Individuals are far more complex than a series of either/or lables and we do change across time and in different contexts. Being outgoing and energized by being with others has benefits but also challenges, just as being more reflective and energized by less-busy environments does too. How about an article titled, “The Gifts of Introversion: Why Overlooking More-Reserved Friends and Co-workers is Detrimental to your Life and Business”.

    • I think saying the article “perpetuates the devaluing of introversion” is missing the point. Please take a closer look – this is what those people think of themselves and how they are treated.

      Furthermore, the post clearly explains at the end that the purpose is to solicit examples to use in an upcoming piece about this. Trust me, we’ll be sure to include everyone’s reaction -that’s the idea – to show the frustration! :)

      We’ll be exploring this in great detail as part of our resource we are creating – and let me be clear (again), I agree that introverts have gifts and that many are quite successful. Again, as I’ve stressed in other responses below, this is about preparing to break the perception.

      Thanks for commenting – it’s definitely proving this is a topic that needs a larger discussion as we had hoped!

      • If you were looking for comments and examples, you certainly are accomplishing that. However, I wonder who these individuals are who came to you and described these qualities? I self-label as an introvert and do not see these as any qualities of an introvert, but instead qualities of a dysfunctional work environment and a stigma against introverts. They are different.

  38. I have experienced # 1,3,5, and 6, at a job, but not because I was introverted, because the company was the most unfriendly, unwelcoming place I had ever worked. I lasted 6 months, then found another job.

  39. I’m extroverted with clients and more introverted with work colleagues. The reason for the latter is very simple: There’s a culture of gossip and office politics where I work, and I have no desire to be part of it. I’ve seen too many people hurt from what was baseless hearsay.

    If keeping to myself in the office and focusing more on my work makes me an introvert in the eyes of my co-workers, and someone not worthy of promotion, then at least I can accept my professional fate with a clear conscience.

    • Steve, your note illustrates some of the many gifts of the more reserved individual and how people adapt to their environments. Although we have preferred ways of being, there are often complex and changing reasons for our behaviours. Not getting enmeshed in the gossip mill because of its underhandedness and potential to hurt others indicates to me a person very worthy of promotion, a person with honourable principles capable of objective thinking, keen observation, trust and compassion.

      • Su, thank you for the very kind words. It is nice to know that in a world where rumormongering and backstabbing to get ahead is too often rewarded and, thus, encouraged, that there are still people who see it for what it is: bad human behavior.

  40. While your workplace observations are good, the “introvert” label may not be the best for the experiences you listed. I know you stated that people self-identified as introverts, but that may not be the cause of what they experience. Many of the items you listed could also be true of “extroverts”. With that in mind, you might explore the cause of the items you listed might be elsewhere.

    • Couldn’t agree with you more Bob – it IS about looking elsewhere for reasons why these things are happening!!! That’s we are going to be speaking to an expert on the subject as part of the resource we are building. :) You comments confirm what we are hoping to do – shift perception on many levels. Thanks for sharing!

  41. I will admit this is the first article to baffle me. I am an introvert and yet none of the above items apply to me – that I can see. There is a colleague, also an introvert, who does not fit any of the above in any way at all – and they lead. When using labels, it helps to have the proper meanings and context behind them. Cecilia, wonderful responses – thank you!

  42. I also disagree with this post. You MAY be correct about #4, but other than that you make us introverts seem like we have to be avoided. J.T., you’ve written some great posts, but this isn’t one of them.

    • Thanks for sharing your perspective Cecilia, Ian, and others. I appreciate your comments.

      However, please don’t assume I see these people this way – I do not. I am pointing out the observations of the people who have come to me claiming to be an introvert.

      Furthermore, I am not suggesting introverts are bad on teams or aren’t good performers – no where in this post does it imply that.

      I am not labeling these folks, they label themselves. I agree that it is a misguided label. And, as you’ll see in the upcoming resource we are producing, thoughts around the perception of it will be discussed.

      Thanks again for the comments, I just felt the need to defend myself – the “don’t shoot the messenger” phrase comes to mind. :)

      • I COMPLETELY related to this article. Unfortunately in the world of work, as in general society, people who display introverted behaviors tend to be treated in the ways outlined in your article. Fortunately (after almost losing a job for being misunderstood), I have been able to progress in my career by not displaying many of my introverted traits. I have become quite successful at presenting myself as outgoing, ready to speak up in any setting, and great at networking. However, this behavior is draining because I am not being completely authentic and that requires a lot of effort. The treatment of introverts by employers and peers is not the same as the treatment of extroverts, especially in extrovert-dominated environments (which, statistically, comprise 75% of workplace settings). My advice is to understand one’s industry and make whatever adjustments necessary to fit in and excel. Develop a brand that speaks to your strengths, and remember to be ‘on’ in public settings. You’ll be exhausted at the end of the day…but you’ll be successful.

        • Congratulations, Chelli. You’ve found a way to adapt to the settings, find a way to succeed and still be true to yourself when you are able to catch your breath. Great advice, indeed.

        • Chelli – I agree with you 100%. One of the benefits we have as introverts is an innate ability to “step out” of any situation and observe. Introverts tend to be highly perceptive and we quickly learn what is required of us to be perceived as “fitting in”. I do the same as you, I act the part of a confident extrovert at work very well and have been recommended several times for my work as well as my interaction with both colleagues and clients. Unfortunately it is what is required of us and it is very hard work but as you say, it breeds success.

      • JT, thanks for clarifying your thoughts and reasoning. This post seemed to be different from what I’ve read from you before. I don’t recall the article ending that way this morning. Even rereading it now, it still reads in a way that associates introversion with these stereotypes without reaffirming that introversion is a strength and not a disorder. But I am but one reader, and either way, you’ve got some great discussion going! I look forward to additional articles about the subject.

    • Sorry you feel that way Bob, I hope you’ll take a look at my response to Cecilia below. I feel you are taking my words out of context.

  43. JT, I very much admire your work, but I respectfully have to disagree strongly with this post. For the record, I am a strong extrovert.

    There is NOTHING wrong with being introverted, and introverts are GREAT to have on team. Introversion is not a character flaw that leads to the signs you list. Rather, it is simply a difference in wiring. Extroverts get energy from interacting with others. For introverts, a lot of interaction can be depleting, so they need time alone to charge back up. Introversion is not a synonym for shyness or social anxiety.

    Introverts have a lot a strengths that extroverts do not. Choosing words carefully before speaking is one of them.

    A great book to truly understand introversion and the strengths of introverts is the book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain.

    Introverts, I and tons of other people in this world love working with you and don’t think it’s a social disorder! Embrace it!

    • Absolutely agree. Introversion is NOT the same as being shy, socially-awkward, etc. I am an introvert and see NONE of these “signs” as part of my work life – I doubt any of my co-workers or colleagues would describe me as being passive or the shoulder-shrugging type. People who don’t know any better or aren’t aware of the difference would tend to lump these together. Perhaps the people who self-label themselves don’t know the difference either.

    • I second your book recommendation! “Quiet” is fantastic reading for anyone. It’s an insightful look at our cultural perception of introverts and extols the strengths of introverts that are too-often overlooked in a professional setting.

    • That is a great book. My wife, an extrovert, did not like it though because she thought it “gave me permission” to be an introvert rather than extrovert which is what she prefers.

  44. I think you’re using entirely the wrong label. you’ve described someone who is very shy and extremely passive. They certainly fall in the category of introverts, just like the loud obnoxious guy that interrupts your workflow is an extrovert… and is also passed up for promotions.

    I appreciate your goal to help introverts, because we certainly encounter problems such as shyness. Just don’t make it out like it’s something all bad.

    To your point, what helps me is being prepared by writing down everything I might have to say and rehearsing it. When networking or interviewing there isn’t enough time to internalize questions or craft the perfect phrase to describe yourself. Rehearsing what your answers sound like gives you a great starting point for answering the actual question.

  45. I am number 4 on the list. I’ve been at my current job for 10yrs, and know everything possible to know in my department. I started as an Tech, then in shipping, now i’m an inventory specialist. A position came available ( and it still is) last month for Supervisor. I applyed for it. I got an call from HR, I said to myself oh yes I have an interview. They tell me that I have all the qualification, but no management skills. I told them my work statue and that I only manage material and not people, how can I get training or the opportunity to be an leader if you don’t give me a chance to move up? Not only that my leader don’t want anybody inside this department to be in leardership. They feel that favortism will play a part in corrective action. I’m so out done, I feel that all the work that I had done and the sacifices I made should have consider me for the position. What do I do?

    • Dionna, have you thought about approaching a non-profit in your community that needs volunteered to see if there is an opportunity for you gain some of these skills as a volunteer for their organization?

      Have you had a conversation with someone within the company about your goals for moving up and what you would need to do to get there?

  46. I can relate to 1/2 of number 7 – feeling helpless to change my status at work. But I never flew under the radar to avoid interacting with people. If I had gotten a promotion, I would have landed in the unemployment line in 2002 instead of 2009.

    The feeling of helplessness I attributed more to not “sucking-up” to management like some of my other co-workers (especially women). Yes, those coworkers are still at my previous company. However, I am the fortunate one because of all the learning and growing I did during unemployment.

    While job searching I had to push myself to be an extrovert at networking events and job interviews because being an introvert is unacceptable. It’s not that I do not enjoy social activities, I just am unable to do them 24/7 like extroverts. I need my down time to renew and re-energize myself.

    The singing of the birds living in the woods behind my house and the woods themselves, re-energize me more than constant chatter with people.

    There are only 5 of us at the company where I currently work, so there is no “faking” it. Everybody is themselves and we all get along.

    • Michelle, being an introvert isn’t the unacceptable part. Not engaging with others is the unacceptable part, and introverts are just as capable of doing this well as extroverts. The difference is that extroverts get charged up by lots of interaction, and introverts get drained. All this means is that an introvert will likely seek out a solitary activity after the event to recharge.

      Extroverts do solitary activities but tend to prefer social activities. Introverts do social activities bur prefer solitary activities.

      • Cecilia, I agree with you. I cannot get my colleagues to see that I consider I’m at work to do my job, not discuss personal subjects that should be none of their business. When they carry on chatting, my response is to bring out my iPod and turn it on.

        I spent so many years when younger as a screaming extrovert being told to turn it down and stop talking, losing jobs for being Too Loud and Out There that now when I choose (perhaps with middle-aged restraint) not to share everything with the team I find I’m suffering too. I took over a job with a huge backlog of work, which I am slowly clearing, so I have a reason to be there. I try to get on with my colleagues, but they are so different from me in terms of interests and lifestyle that I struggle. They don’t understand me and I don’t understand them. I just want to be left in peace to get on with my job, to be honest, as I find all this trying to socialise incredibly tiring, as many others have said.

        I’m also wary of ringing my colleagues in other buildings and asking things because we need a paper trail (I work in finance) so we can trace everything thoroughly. I’m also conscious of the disturbance factor – a ringing phone Has To Be Answered. An email or even an im can be dealt with at a suitable time.

        My manager only forgets to respond to emails because she is overseeing a major system upgrade. She is also often in meetings, to which she invites me when it concerns my area of the role, or she wants me to take minutes and not to contribute. Otherwise she prefers to let me get on with reducing the backlog.

        I am also at the age where having a job I can perform satisfactorily, with a regular salary, measurable monthly goals, not coming to the attention of management, is better than more and more stress from promotions. And certainly better than no job at all after being sacked.

        Yes, I do choose to try and remain under the radar if I can, but mainly because I prefer to work uninterrupted and with a hands-off boss such as I currently have. If that makes me an introvert, fine. I’ll live with it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *