How Introverts Can Assert Themselves in Extroverted Workplaces

An introvert at work

Introverts might have the skills needed for a promotion, but they can be overlooked because they’re not as visible as others.

Being overlooked for a promotion is quite common in the workplace. But what about being overlooked because your boss forgot you were even there?

It may not be that you lack the necessary skills. It may not even be that there are other more skilled people competing with you for the position. It could be that you were simply not as visible as others.

Why Introverts Might Get Overlooked at Work

Imagine working for years in your job, doing your very best day and night; after all, introverts make some of the best coworkers. Then one day, a new person comes in, gets friendly with your boss and colleagues, and soon they are just one position away from the one you’re holding.

Some reasons you may not have advanced as quickly as your extroverted coworkers could include the following:

  • You were not “visible” enough. As an introvert, you may have declined networking or social gatherings, or even optional meetings, that left you beyond the radar of your boss. During those informal events, your managers and higher-ups may have seen some potential in some of your colleagues. 
  • The ones who talk more are more “seen.” It often seems like today’s culture associates work competence and performance with extroverted characteristics. Those who are louder in proclaiming their accomplishments are given more credit than those who silently accomplish their work.
  • You don’t have an “in” with others. Sadly, your performance does not only depend on how well you do your job. Sometimes, you have to know the right people who can see your potential and recommend you for higher positions. Since most introverts hate networking, this can make it more challenging for us to gain an “in” with the right people.

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Why You Need to Be Promoted

Now, if you are an introvert who is happily and quietly performing your job, you may ask why you need to assert yourself more. You may be content where you are (even if you often don’t take much credit for your work). In some cases, you may not even have an interest in being promoted.

You may say you’re not seeking a reward for the good things you do. You’re content and you may find it odd how some people are so competitive in the corporate world.

But, still, there may be other reasons you’d like to be promoted. Some of these may include:

You want to do more for your company. Not taking proper credit for your work and being passed over for promotions could mean you are given fewer responsibilities. It means you are not given the authority and power you need to make a difference in your workplace. But do you want to make a change for your clients or colleagues? Do you want your company to be a better one? Then you may need to advance in your career.

You want to grow as a person. Taking on greater responsibilities could help you improve, not only in your career, but also in your personal life. Facing and accepting challenges makes you grow. It allows you to see other aspects of life you may have previously overlooked.

So, How Can You Advance in Your Career?

Aside from doing your very best and enhancing your professional skills, you also need to remember the kind of environment you’re working in. 

In the corporate world, you have to be “seen.” You must learn how to assert yourself among all the extroverts who may outshine you by being more visible, vocal, and social.

Here are some ways you can do that.

How Introverts Can Assert Themselves in the Workplace

1. Take credit for your achievements.

It’s not wrong to take credit for something you have worked hard on. Remember, you are not bragging about something you did not do, and you are also not stealing another person’s work. You are merely letting others know what you have done and what you can do.

Don’t let other people take credit for a unique idea you have shared. Letting others do this, especially repeatedly, will only lead to people being placed in higher positions where they are not prepared to perform. Meanwhile, you will stay exactly where you are.

2. Make sure your boss knows your name.

How important is a name? It could spell the difference between advancing in your career and being overlooked for that much-overdue promotion.

Higher-ups knowing your name also means associating that name with a person they can remember. Your managers must know your potential and your current contribution to the company.

One way to help your boss remember your name is by communicating with them through emails. After a meeting, you can get some clarification on something that was discussed or suggest a new, unique idea by sending them a short message. 

Also, in meetings, when you speak, you can say, “I’m ‘x’ from accounting, and I think…” That way, you’re reminding them of who you are in a natural way. 

You can also provide your expertise in some special or voluntary projects. That way, the higher-ups can ask your colleagues about you whenever they need your skills.

So ask yourself: Does your boss even know what you’ve achieved so far? If not, how can you change that?

Do you ever struggle to know what to say?

As an introvert, you actually have the ability to be an amazing conversationalist — even if you’re quiet and hate small talk. To learn how, we recommend this online course from our partner Michaela Chung. Click here to check out the Introvert Conversation Genius course.

3. Talk about your ideas during meetings.

An introvert’s mind is often full of innovative and creative ideas. The only problem is we may rarely express ourselves and some may mistake our quietness as rudeness or aloofness.

Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Take advantage of office meetings where everyone can hear you and appreciate your thoughts.

The easiest chance to be heard is when someone asks if anyone has a question or needs clarification. Use this as an opportunity to be the first person to speak. I know this may be intimidating, but at least you can get out your thoughts about a topic you know well vs. being put on the spot later.

Your style of communication can also include the written form; use the power of technology to help you convey your thoughts in well-written emails, Slack messages, and so forth. (After meetings, share your follow-up thoughts and ideas through email or your group’s online forum.) 

4. Accept positions of responsibility that showcase your strengths.

Be confident about your knowledge, skills, and experience. Whenever you get the chance to be in a position of responsibility or authority, grab it. Here is where many of your strengths as an introvert can come into play, from your listening skills to focusing on deep work.

Also, introverts make great leaders, so if you have a knack for leadership, now’s your chance to show it off! If you are not used to being in a leadership role, take note of your strengths and contributions to the company. You can also jot down the compliments you have received from your peers for a job well done. 

Experience is key. Start by helping or assisting other leaders or colleagues. Or you could mentor new hires. And if a volunteer activity or networking event pops up, help out to show that you’re a team player and have leadership capabilities. 

5. Forge an alliance with colleagues you trust.

Being an introvert doesn’t mean you always have to be alone. Although you may need more time to recharge your social battery, you are just as capable of making friends and alliances in the workplace.

Find those people you sincerely want to make friends with, those you can trust and who “get” you. (You are probably not the only introvert in the office.)

One way to make friends is by getting to know others who share your interests. You can learn  this through casual conversations, i.e., during meal times or water-cooler talk. Then, you can suggest meeting up sometime to do the shared interest, whether it’s volunteering, going to a cooking class, or attending a book club.

You can also ask if they need help with any work projects and get to know them better that way, showing off your introvert strengths as you do so. For instance, maybe your attention to detail and research skills are just what they need!

Aside from being work allies, these friends can also give you emotional strength during difficult times.

6. Don’t compare yourself to outgoing colleagues.

You need to assert yourself, but you don’t have to fake being an extrovert along the way.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and brings different strengths to the table, so make the most of your introvert superpowers.

You already know that you’re a deep and creative thinker, have amazing listening and observation skills, and can connect well with others, especially one on one or in small groups. Use all these skills to your advantage.

By using the powers that you naturally possess, you can increase your presence in the workplace, which will help you get recognized — and finally get that promotion you deserve.

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