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How introverts can gain visibility in the workplace

Introverts may often be ignored at offices, but many of their skills are vital to the workplace, like creativity, innovation, and better listening

Making your voice heard does not come naturally to everyone–least of all the introverts.
Making your voice heard does not come naturally to everyone–least of all the introverts. (iStockphoto.)

Meetings make Aarti Dua nervous. She’s a self-confessed introvert, and doesn’t like being in the spotlight.

Although she is hands-on in her role that requires strategising and creating content, her body language makes her appear underconfident. This has led her to being relegated in the background on several occasions. “I become extremely fidgety and avoid any eye contact with my superiors during our weekly meetings,” says the 32-year-old content manager at a Bengaluru-based startup. “I also tend to fumble if all eyes are on me. It makes me feel lost among the sea of extroverts at work.”

Anant Kimaya, meanwhile, prefers to talk less at work, for he wants his work to do the talking. He can’t get himself to engage all the time with his office peers—he prefers to keep the conversations minimal to client briefs. The problem is his managers eventually take credit in client meetings because he refuses to tom-tom about it. “It’s a task for me to market myself. I would rather focus my energies on creating good work and excelling at it,” says Kimaya, a 24-year-old graphic designer at a Bengaluru-based advertising agency. “But my unwillingness to blow my own trumpet has cost me in many ways—my extroverted peers have received better pay hikes and more appreciation from superiors. I have now made my peace with it.”

According to a global sample of Myers Briggs Type Indicator results, published in 2020, 56.8% of people around the world prefer introversion. That, however, doesn’t mean that most of these people avoid social interaction or crave solitude all the time; they are simply sensitive to overstimulation. “If you are an introvert, you are more prone to being overstimulated by intense or prolonged social interaction—and at that point, reflecting on your thoughts and feelings can help you recharge. But introversion-extraversion is about more than just social interaction,” organisational psychologist and author Adam Grant explains in a LinkedIn post.

Also read: Making some noise about introverts


In today’s noisy world, it can be hard to get noticed or get your voice heard, especially when there are colleagues who like to constantly advertise every single activity they do. Making your voice heard does not come naturally to everyone–least of all the introverts. This often results in lesser chances of a pay raise, position advancement or just general lack of recognition.

Introverts are also typecast as shy, reserved or indifferent and are perceived to be unfit for leadership positions. “It isn’t necessary that extroverts make the best leaders. The correct thing is to be a little bit of both—we require people at the workplace who can talk and listen. Listening is as important as talking; that’s also how the term ambivert came about. For instance, if you are looking for the best salespeople, you need someone who can persuade but also listen to customer feedback,” says Amit Nandkeolyar, Clinical Faculty of Organizational Behaviour, IIM Ahmedabad.

In her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking (2012), Susan Cain identifies these individuals as better listeners than speakers, who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion, and those who favour working on their own rather than working in teams.

But such individuals must have the opportunity and space to grow and thrive in ways that do not necessarily alter their personality traits.

Neelima Chakara, executive coach and founder, PurposeLadder, a coaching organisation that aims to increase the capacity and effectiveness of executives, believes that companies can play a pivotal role in ensuring that introverted employees get their due. “It is essential to have objective performance evaluation criteria in place for every role so that results matter more than what appears to be. Managers must know their employees’ strengths and assign roles to them accordingly. Also, it is essential to train managers to be aware of biases—for example, ‘ambitious employees ask for a promotion or ‘those who speak up are more engaged at work’,” she advises.

Implementing a 360-degree feedback system is equally crucial to navigating the hyper-connected corporate world, offering a level-playing field to all employees, says Chetna Israni, director and co-founder, Morning Star Brandcom, a Mumbai-based integrated communication consultancy. This may be particularly helpful during appraisal season.

“It is a strategic approach that involves gathering feedback from various sources, including peers, subordinates, supervisors, and even external stakeholders. It offers insights into how an individual’s actions and behaviours impact different stakeholders. It reveals blind spots that may not be apparent through self-assessment or traditional manager evaluations,” Israni says.

At the same time, organisations must also be more mindful when designing offices. Nandkeolyar points out that there are several spaces for “group work” but hardly any nooks that align with the introverted personality type.

“Organisations could perhaps designate quiet spaces within the workplace, where introverts can retreat when they need a break or get some focused time to work. It is essential to recognise that introverts may thrive in environments where they have more control over their work conditions,” adds Israni.

Ragini Das, co-founder at Gurgaon-headquartered, a social-professional network for women, believes companies can encourage a mix of communication channels like one-on-one meetings, written communication and smaller team discussions to ensure all voices feel heard. “Ensure that contributions are recognised and celebrated, regardless of the individual’s communication style. This can include both public and private acknowledgment. We do this often on our company Slack channel and town halls. On most days, the non-loud ones end up overperforming,” she says. “Implement mentorship programs that pair introverts with mentors who understand and appreciate their strengths but also complement them.”


While organisations can do their fair bit in creating an equitable space for all employees, there are certain tips that introverts can practice to gain more visibility in the workplace.

“Based on their personality type, introverts should make sure to have a solid communication of their work done through emails, so that their subordinates can get a wholesome picture of their efforts. They can come early to meetings or wait until the end to communicate their ideas to a smaller group of people. They must also never shy away from telling their employees about their introversion,” suggests Ruchi Ruuh, a Delhi-based counselling psychologist.

What’s more, introverts can also get noticed through other means—either through the way they dress or their ideas in written form. “If public speaking is what they fear, they can resort to working in a way where their ideas are presented through blogs, write-ups, or podcasts. These can be helpful channels to share ideas without interaction,” Ruuh adds.

Strategic networking also helps. “Build genuine connections inside and outside your workplace, absorb great conversations and pay forward when and where you can,” says Das. “Most people, irrespective of personality type, don’t do this enough.”

As Grant rightly put it across, “Getting a job is about the quality and diversity of the relationships you build, not how the number of people you contact or the number of times you reach out to them. If you stereotype extroverts as charismatic and introverts as aloof, think again.”

Geetika Sachdev is a writer and journalist.

Also read: The best headsets for quiet work in a noisy workplace



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