8 Advantages of Introverts

introverts-bIn this post, we talked about how introverts sometimes get a bad rap, particularly in the workplace. I think we should take it a step further though.

I think a strong case can be made that not only is it OK to be an introvert or to have introverts on our teams; but just like there are advantages to being a bit more extroverted, there are also certain advantages that introverts have.

But wait, Matt. You’re always rambling on about culture fit. We’re trying to cultivate a positive, creative culture. Does this mean we should compromise our organizations’ values if introversion appears to run contrary to those values?

Well, unless your organizations’ values include a particular decibel level and outward display of a specific type of gregariousness, then it really doesn’t matter if someone’s introverted or extroverted. Both introverts and extroverts can have great attitudes (and bad ones). Both introverts and extroverts can be creative (or not as much). And so on.

So what are those particular advantages that many introverts in the workplace seem to have? What are some of those invaluable things that introverts bring to their teams and organizations?

infp-poster111. While they may not especially love being in large, loud groups as much as others, they’re generally very good one-on-one.

2. They see things others can’t. They think about things differently, which allows them to see issues from different angles and pick up different nuances and dynamics.

3. They’re often wicked smart. Know what they’re doing when they’re sitting there not talking? They’re thinking.

4. They listen and observe well (even if it might not look like it sometimes). They listen. They observe. They conceptualize. They reason. And the whole time they’re doing that you may think they’re in La-La Land. :)

An aside for the sake of illustrating what I mean: I had a professor once a long time ago who looked at me during a class, stopped in the middle of her lecture, and in front of God and everybody asked if I was paying attention. “Yes. Why?” I asked. “Well you’re just doodling in that black notebook,” she said. “That is me listening,” I said as I held up my little book so she could see the ideas and boxes and arrows and thoughts and correlations and so on.

The point is that everyone listens and absorbs differently. As folks talk, I’m usually scribbling stuff down–thoughts, ideas, follow-up questions, tangential ideas I don’t want to forget, and so on. I’m also connecting things (literally with lines sometimes) and sort of putting it all together visually into one, big, tangled mess of ink that makes perfect sense to only me. I do that so that I do make sure I’m getting everything my teammates or whoever else is saying.

ccintp55. They may bring an unorthodox perspective. And you need that. I say this a lot, but I’ll keep saying it: Why on earth would you want a team full of people who are wired the exact same way? Don’t misunderstand. I’m not discounting culture fit at all. But one of those myths about culture is that everyone has to express a shared value in the same way. That’s just not the case. Your fun won’t be my fun, and that’s good! Your ideas won’t be my ideas, and that’s great! Thank goodness for variety. Thank goodness we’re not all “normal,” as if there were any such thing.

6. Many introverts are able to conceptualize and explain things in ways that seem off at first, but then….click. So wait for it. They may take the scenic route, but they’re probably going somewhere cool.

7. They’re self-reflective. They spend lots of time looking inward, and as a result they know themselves pretty well. This one’s a double-edged sword of course, since they can be painfully aware of their own imperfections, both real and imagined.

8. They tend to become passionate experts in areas of particular interest to them. When they’re passionate about something–and yes, introverts are just as passionate as anyone else–they’re going to invest enormous amounts of mental, emotional, and whatever other kind of energy necessary to have a deep and broad understanding of that thing. If you listen to them talk about that thing for a few seconds, you can hear it coming out.

Obviously there are more we could list, but let’s hear from you! What other advantages do introverts bring to teams and organizations?

75 comments

  1. Once again – love your post! Uncovering the real traits of an introvert is one of my favourite topics!

    What I would add, and you mentioned part of it above, is that introverts are great listeners one-on-one and in small groups so the one who is speaking feels heard and understood. These are key results of good communication and interpersonal skills – making others feel understood, and therefore, that they matter. By doing so, it develops and enhances meaningful relationships.

    Thanks for the post, Matt. Once again, you made my day! :-)

  2. I think this piece makes some very good points about the value of introverts. From my own experience as an INFJ, I would expand point 1 to articulate how good introverts can be as thought partners. Once you leave the room where the ‘large, loud groups’ are flinging ideas, opinions, and objections around like confetti, sitting down one on one with an introvert to sort through what it all means can really move a thing forward.

    • Kathi King says:

      Thanks Pattie, great point about introverts as thought partners! Love it, you got me thinking further on that. INFJ here also, so appreciate all of your intuitive, feeling and judgement about the original post, of course. Resonates.

    • Matt Monge says:

      That’s a great point, Pattie. And you get bonus points for finding a way to get the word “confetti” into your post. :)

    • Kay says:

      “…around like confetti..” LOL…and so accurate! :)

    • Sandy says:

      I second that emotion, Pattie – fellow INFJ. The “I’s” are generally the ones sorting and keeping track of the meaningful points while the “E’s” generate the confetti. You nailed that one well.

  3. Kathi King says:

    When an introvert backs an idea, we are typically very much on board. We take the time to consider thoughtfully, in multiple ways that others might miss, how that idea might work. So, once on board, we already have conceptualized and often even created an integrated plan of action for implementation. So, as co-leaders we are ready to move forward in a meaningful, effective way. Many of us have strengths in empowering others to succeed and are quite happy to take only our share of the credit for success, recognizing that the extroverts are the best team members for further expansion of our creative plan of action.

    • Matt Monge says:

      Thanks, Kathi.

    • Danielle says:

      The first part of this is so true – it’s also why, if an introvert puts an idea forward, they are usually ready to get started implementing right away, whereas with extroverts talking is the first stage, with introverts it’s the middle stage. It does mean that the rest of the organization will have to be caught up to where the introvert is at, but then we get to the article’s point on being good at explaining things. (except for the idea that introverts aren’t good at “further expansion of our creative plan”)

  4. gen says:

    One of the biggest mistakes financial institutions made a decade or so ago was the emphasize SALES, SALES and SALES. This pretty much stopped the hiring of people who would consider themselves introverts.

    • Matt Monge says:

      And one of the biggest mistakes the SALES, SALES, SALES people made was thinking you had to extroverted to do it well.

  5. Alessia says:

    Totally me. I never thought of me this positively. Thanks for writing this :)

    • Matt Monge says:

      Thanks for checking out the post! And if it made you or someone else view yourself in a more positive light, then I’m both humbled and thrilled.

  6. Lisa Kuhn Phillips says:

    Love the post with one slight critique, Matt. Why the alphabet soup label? These 8 advantages are traits of a good, reflective and aware person. Is intpfjes-ing really necessary ? :-)

    • gaugs says:

      Agggh, you’re such a feeler.

    • Valerie says:

      The INTP-INxx whatever system is a shorthand that a lot of people understand, do using it is a mice shortcut for communicating some of these concepts. It’s not exactly necessary, it’s just really helpful.

  7. Michael says:

    Loved reading this article. I am very much introverted and can relate to everything here. Well done!

  8. Christy Prest says:

    Wow… I have never really thought of myself as introverted, but seeing these examples really leads me to believe I may be one!! I am VERY passionate about the ideas that I take hold of, so typically no one would claim me Introverted as I can be very voistrous and excited about discussing these things. HOWEVER, I do know, for myself, that I am NOT that way unless it is something I am deeply passionate about. I have been hard on myself for not being like all the other Extroverts in all the other areas of my life… The “Why cant I be like —-?” syndrome. This may be it… Something to look into and maybe learn something new about myself that I can look at in that more positive light (as another posted mentioned above).

    • Christy Prest says:

      And, by the way, I am in SALES and am very successful in that field. I just typically have to create the right story to move me past the fear of rejection (versus an extrovert that I would assume just heads out the door to slay the dragon, lol). Once I mess with it enough in my head that I can own it, there isnt much that can stop me :-)

      • Kathi says:

        Many of us do exhibit extroverted behavior when we are deeply passionate about something, Christy. (Even if it’s about the positives of being introverted, ha!). Sounds like you’ve found a way to help yourself succeed and get past fear, which is a very good thing. I’m a nurse and strongly introverted but give me a patient who needs an advocate or a cause I believe in and I’ll come alive and foreward in an instant! Now I’m learning to teach others how to find a strong voice. Good that you already have a method that keeps you strong! Loved reading your posts~

    • Matt Monge says:

      Absolutely. The best you is…well…you. :)

    • Matt Monge says:

      Yeah, I used to and still do struggle with the whole “Why can’t I be more like So-and-So” thing, but it’s so crushing to our spirit, to our soul even. You and I can’t be more like them because we’re not them. It’s them same reason they can’t be you or me. Because, well, they’re not. You’re wired a unique way that gives unique perspectives, gifts, challenges, struggles, ideas, strengths, and so on that no one else has or can have. That’s really awesome when you think about it.

  9. Danielle says:

    I think the biggest benefits of having an introvert around are
    1) If we don’t know, we will say so, and happily ask questions because we like to learn (and are not ashamed of not knowing something)

    2) You can trust that what we say will be well thought out and probably researched – or else we wouldn’t be saying it.

    For us, talking is about communication, not just community, and we think past the moment into the possible consequences of what we say, so we wouldn’t dream of saying something if we didn’t have reason to believe that someone talking with them could reliably act upon it.

    The down side for us, is that we assume that everyone thinks this way – that no-one would make a statement about something, if they had absolutely no knowledge or experience in the topic, so if someone says something with confidence, we will assume it is trustworthy, not just blathering to be part of the conversation or ‘look good’. I’m 40 and I still struggle with not seeing this kind of pretense to expertise as anything other than lying.

    • Robert says:

      You said a mouthful!

      Especially that discrepancy between our rather high expectations and the actual behaviour of others steadily leads to bummer, to steady disappointment.

      Lowering expectations would just lead to boring conversations.

      So, we are left with two options: 1. stop it or even don’t start it at all; or 2. grit your teeth and try to play with kids.

      As option 2 is, again, boring, we usually choose option 1.

      Or option 3 — disappointment, and consequently withdrawal.

  10. Tarani says:

    Best comment section ever. Also, great article.
    Signed,
    INFP ;)

  11. Malea says:

    I love this. I am an *extreme* introvert. My introvert characteristics served me well during several years working in a hectic ER.

  12. Carla says:

    I am an introvert and become very drained by someone when I hang out with them one day and they want more of my time. Example: “Oh we had so much fun yesterday! Let’s plan to do this more often. How about next weekend too?”

    Well, I would just like to have a moment alone to myself.

    “Oh… was it something I said?” (goes on being butt hurt like they’re being severely punished just to waste more of my energy)

    No, I just feel I should be allowed to live my life the way I want without having to be your entertainment because you are a very lonely person that feels rejected every time someone wants to have one single day to themselves God forbid that happens!

    Not to mention the conversations…I can’t stand small talk. If there is nothing in depth I pretty much shut down.

    There have been moments when I get fed up and tell them straight off you are being a moron and I can’t handle this anymore…

    But this is in extreme cases when I have said no repeatedly and even quit responding and they kept going on and on…lord have mercy!

    • Matt Monge says:

      It gets really tricky, doesn’t it? Because it’s often harder for others to understand us than it is for us to understand ourselves as individuals. They may not read cues you’re dropping for them like you would read them, if at all. So then it becomes an exercise in vulnerability, empathy, honesty, and humility as all parties try not only to become more appropriately human themselves; but also to provide a safe context within which others can do the same.

      • Daniela says:

        I really hear you when it comes to extroverts not being able to read subtle cues. I had a co-worker/supervisor who didn’t understand that she needed to stop talking to me for me to do good work or any work at all. It became a tug-of-war.

        • Matt Monge says:

          Right. It becomes a really good exercise in mutual empathy and understanding. It’s not just one party or the other that has to read (and I know that’s not what you’re saying). Both need to listen, observe, learn, and have honest and kind communication.

  13. Yoko says:

    It’s great. We just had a discussion about this at work the other day, and my boss said something less than flattering about us introverts. I am definitely going to share this around the office!
    Thanks.

  14. [...] 8 Advantages of Introverts | workplace MOJO [...]

  15. Valerie says:

    I had an experience almost identical to yours when, in a design meeting, our manager was explaining something to the group, sort of exploring some concepts as he did, I was drawing a diagram of what he was saying – really , organizing his thoughts so I could see how they all fit together. He kind of snapped at me – are you listening? So I showed Hom what I’d drawn, and his eyes got wide, and he asked me to put it up on the whiteboard. That was cool.

    • Matt Monge says:

      Awesome, Valerie. Sounds like our brains are wired similarly in at least that regard. It’s funny — my version of “taking notes” is quite different than what most folks think of when they say they’re “taking notes,” but it accomplishes the same thing.

    • Pattie says:

      Valerie, you just described what I do also! I especially like how you put it: you were organizing his thoughts so you could see how they all fit together. That is exactly what I do, right down to the diagram! Thank you for articulating this. IMO, this is one of the most powerful benefits introverts bring to the table.

  16. Marvia says:

    Why was I tearful as I read this!?!?!! Finally someone
    who gets it and knows how to explain it to the rest of the world. We introverts are no oddballs. We are unique beings who contribute in ways that are different but fruitful. I loved this post. It’s like I was reading about myself only you write more eloquently than I could have. Deeply moving story-stuff. Thank you !!! Reminds me to just be myself and no one else. I am who I am because it is who I am and will not change. I embrace all of me. That’s a gift. Reminds me not to change the core of my being just to fit in. I am enough as I am – every introvert is enough as they are for who they are -hidden treasures and sometimes bedrock. We are not lacking in character, resolve, intelligence, or authenticity. We are inwardly powerful and share that power in ways that bolster, boost, solidify, challenge, and integrate. We just are, and it’s beautiful !!!

    • Matt Monge says:

      And that comment just made the whole post worthwhile. You’re not a human pretending. Or a human trying. You’re a human being.

  17. Jaime says:

    O.M.G.

    I had this EXACT same experience with a prof back when I was in Psych 101 12ish years ago. He was talking about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and I was doodling some ideas in my notebook (I have a much easier time remembering info-graphic content when I decorate or colour-code it – allows me to recall the image in a test). The prof put me on the spot and called me out for “not paying attention”. I promptly recited back to him the last 5 to 6 sentences he had said and explained what they meant. It shut him up, but what right does a professor have to publicly chastise someone for having a different learning style???

    • Matt Monge says:

      That’s the really ironic part, isn’t it? They’re the learning and development experts, yet many don’t seem to grasp something as simple as this? I’m very much like you in that I would diagram (I guess I was info-graphic-ing before it was cool) a whole idea or thought process and study it and then on my exams, that’s what would come to mind and I could remember and understand it so much better that way than if I just tried the “regular” ways of learning and studying.

      • Jaime says:

        It is a shame that not all educators “get” it. But…the more that we have articles like this the more we can help ourselves and others to understand that sometimes people learn and process information differently than the “mainstream” approach. In fact…I’d wager that the mainstream isn’t as mainstream as we used to think. Nonetheless, thanks for creating some awareness on this subject!

  18. leslie says:

    you’ve nailed it. this is ME. :)

  19. [...] But every once in a while someone will walk into my office, look around at the walls and ask how I came up with some of the ideas. Or we’ll be in a meeting and something will click for me as I’m scribbling in my little black notebook like a weirdo. (See #4 in this post) [...]

  20. Morne says:

    100% me. I knew it from the start. Believe me – many people don’t understand who I am and why I am so ‘quiet’. Often, in a world of extroverts, we are very often seen as ‘loners’ ‘who does not fit in’. This article, though, dispel many misconceptions (I hope)about introverts, which I think is important for others to understand who we are… :D

  21. [...] Matt Monge: 8 Advantages Of Introverts  “They see things others can’t.” Just one of the eight advantages that introverts have to offer employers, as identified by Mr Monge in this fine post. Are there any more you’d like to see added to the list? Follow Matt on Twitter. [...]

  22. [...] [Inspired by The Mojo Company] [...]

  23. Surya Prabhala says:

    To Matt Monge / all INFP personality type ladies & gentlemen, Boys & Girls and children of all ages…

    Click on the link below to know OURSELVES DEEPER.

    http://www.personalitypage.com/html/INFP_rel.html

    Cheers,

    EnJOY

    :)

  24. Surya Prabhala says:

    Infact, check this site http://www.16personalities.com/ out as well to dwell more.

    Just, one more point to add, i was working in ad agency and it becomes very difficult for an INFP like me to express our opinions, etc in an ocean of extroverts. Felt extremely out of place.

    I may sound like a generalist but advertising agencies and media houses are definitely not for INTROVERTs.

  25. Michael Spink says:

    I’d be lost without my introvert partner. He is contemplative, an expert at listening and deciphering my vocal rants and always provides value and perspective I could never bring to the table. You’re right, Matt; mix it up, respect each person’s contribution and move forward as a team.

    • Matt Monge says:

      Heck yes. And realize that people aren’t necessarily who or what you think they are in regards to introversion or extroversion.

  26. Surya says:

    DID YOU KNOW only 4.3% of U.S. population is INFP!

  27. Rainy says:

    Very insightful. I only discovered today that I’m an introvert. 35 years of feeling like something’s wrong.. Now all of a sudden EVERYTHING looks different. Thankyou for this article- you may not think you change the world, but you changed my world. That’s priceless.

  28. […] also discusses how subtle cues can help introverts establish their personal brand.  Introverts tend to become passionate experts in specific fields of study; it makes sense to advertise this […]

  29. […] Image source (another great article): http://themojocompany.com/2013/03/advantages-of-introverts/ […]

  30. What a great article! Made me almost feel good about myself until I remembered the corporate America/HR doesn’t value what I have to offer. Maybe someday…

  31. […] the meeting. Why is it that randomly vomiting out ten bad ideas is better than one calculated idea? The Mojo Company explains how introverts are great for companies because they conceptualize and see things that […]

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