A few years ago, a colleague made a workplace game of guessing everyone’s Myers-Briggs personality type. He quickly concluded I was an E (for extrovert). He’d seen me interact with clients, co-workers and complete strangers on a number of occasions, and apparently the fact that I managed to follow social cues and respond appropriately was all the evidence he needed. I knew he had me pegged wrong, but I kept it to myself because, to be honest, I wasn’t sure introverts like me actually belonged in such a social industry.
My thinking was linked to the misconception that all introverts are shy. We’re not. In fact, as long as the setting is structured and my role is clearly defined, I tend to thrive in group settings. For me, being an introvert is all about how I mentally recharge. After being around people all day, shutting the world out for some alone time allows me to “refill the tank.”
The benefits of being an extrovert in an industry that relies heavily on people skills are clear and endless. But what about the introverts? This isn’t an exclusive list, but here are some of the things I (and many others) bring to the table:
- Creativity. Introverts spend a lot of time in their own heads, which leaves plenty of time for manufacturing original ideas. At its worst, this manifests in not-so-pretty ways, like imagining worst case scenarios that lead to crippling anxiety. At its best, we come up with groundbreaking new ideas that reinvent the wheel.
- Perfection. Speaking of anxiety, I often play things over and over in my head before I ever present them to an audience. I am extremely meticulous, a perfectionist to a fault at times, which means by the time my clients see my work, it’s been cleaned and polished.
- Focus. When I’m “in the zone,” I have a gift for tuning out the rest of the world. Since my world exists largely in my own head, it’s nearly impossible to distract me once I’m on a mission.
- Intuition. Those of us who spend a lot of time in our own heads tend to have a niche for reading people. Maybe it’s because we’ve been quietly observing the world all our lives. Being able to read people is extremely handy, especially in terms of predicting responses to marketing strategies.
- Morale. Not only am I more aware of others’ triggers, I am probably more sensitive to them than they are. I immediately get tense when negative energy is present. Peace is a priority for me, so being courteous and respectful to my team is always at the forefront of my mind. As a result, I’ve naturally come to be known as “the glue that holds it together” among nearly every professional team I’ve served on.
For anyone who’s curious, I’m undeniably an INFP. There are a billion tests out there, and every one I’ve taken has rendered the same result. Lucky for me, I’m in great company. Fellow INFPs include: William Shakespeare, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Johnny Depp, J.K. Rowling, Stephen Colbert, Mary-Kate Olsen…you get the idea. Lots of talented creatives.