The extrovert is easy to spot. They’re social, high-energy and full of excitement. On the other hand, the introvert is anti-social, shy and reclusive. One might go as far to say that these are personality flaws when it comes to being a working professional.
Introversion and extroversion are actually determined by where we get our energy from, explains Belle Beth Cooper, a FastCompany.com contributor and co-founder of Exist, a personal analytics program for tracking and understanding your life. Ask yourself, how do you recharge your brain? Extroverts gain energy by socializing with other people and lack energy while alone. Introverts lose energy by interacting in crowds and refuel with alone time; too much interaction can lead to burnout.
The difference between the two shouldn’t affect an individual’s career. Introverted professionals may just take a different approach and make use of other skills to achieve and succeed.
Power of Introverts in Business
“The new power players in the digital age.” That’s how Forbes describes the influence of introverts in marketing and other business environments. Thoughtfulness, engagement and listening skills may overrule typical extroverted behaviors like commanding attention to shock and awe or owning the center stage. Cheryl Conner, Forbes contributor, entrepreneur and communications expert, agrees that “introverted marketers and communicators are currently poised to prevail.”
In the workplace, avoiding small talk means you like to get straight to the point. If you prefer to sit back, observe and process information, you’re thoughtfully gaining insight. Despite the assumption that introverts aren’t social, they do like to build relationships. However, as an introvert, you may only open up for a few close individuals and focus on those connections. Collaboration, transparency, authenticity. These are also features of an effective introvert.
If you seek success without being the loudest person in the room, you’re in great company. Leaders like President Barack Obama, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg all possess an introverted—perhaps even guarded—personality that’s enhanced their drive to succeed. Although these leaders are public figures, standing in the spotlight is just part of the job.
Digital Communication Skills
You may prefer minimal social stimulation and face-to-face interaction. But this doesn’t mean you lack communication skills capable of enhancing work productivity. Computer-mediated channels of communication provide a degree of distance, explains Scientific American. Email, texting, instant messaging and even social media remove face-to-face contact to accommodate a less extroverted way of communicating. Digital communication is a way to control the interaction without high stress or social anxiety. These means of communicating are also more commonplace and accepted as part of the workplace, which means primarily using digital devices to communicate is still credible and not bad form.
Professional Etiquette for Virtual Communication
Although how you communicate changes when you go digital, your level of professionalism should remain the same. Here are tips for effective, and professional, digital communication.
- Be specific. Direct, clear and short emails get straight to the point. Wordiness will overcomplicate your message.
- Meet in person over touchy issues. Facial expressions and tone help eliminate misunderstandings or misconceptions.
- Don’t be vague in your commitments and follow through. “Virtual anonymity” doesn’t dismiss accountability.
- Respond in a timely manner. Give status updates, rather than no response at all.
- Be discerning with emojis, especially with a superior or client. Make sure there is clear context. When in doubt, leave them out.
- Use the proper tools. Use a smartphone like the Samsung Galaxy S7 for functionalities like speech-to-text, which allows for mobile communication while on-the-go. Cloud storage and access to high-speed Internet also optimize digital-oriented work.
Make sure to complement digital communication with face-to-face engagement too. Remember, going outside your comfort zone builds character and confidence. Make an effort to socialize with colleagues or clients, if only for a small amount of time. Prepare for a meeting or to express an idea with notes and research. Even form an alliance with an extrovert who can bat for you or extend support with encouragement. A hybrid of digital and face-to-face interaction shows that you’re a well-rounded communicator.