How To Survive In The Workplace If You’re An Introvert

Ahh, introverts. Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em. Recently I’ve found myself very fascinated with personality tests, and the alarming accuracy with which my type describes me. It’s peculiar and crazy and also kind of relieving. I wanted to write a bit about it today, because being an introvert can be a wonderful thing, but also challenging at times — and I’m here to provide support! 

First of all, if you’re curious about your Myers-Briggs personality type, it’s super easy to take a free test online. I really like this one from 16personalities, mainly because it’s so visual and such a pleasant experience, but you can really use any you like. Of course, they are more detailed once you pay for them, but the free ones will give you an idea of what you’re all about.

The reason I find this relieving, as I was saying, is because sometimes I feel so darn misunderstood. It’s crazy — sometimes I’m not even aware that I’m feeling that way, but then when I do realise, it’s like everything falls into place. Sometimes  it can be really helpful having someone or something else make sense of your quirks. Plus, who doesn’t like reading about themselves?!

So for those wondering, this is what I generally look like at work (posing not included):

introvert-workplace-miscbliss

This should give you some sort of indication as to where I lie on the introvert scale (hint: EXTREME). I live in my head, and I like it that way; only venturing out into the real world for food  and/or deadlines. That’s about it.

As an INFP type — which stands for Introverted, iNtuitive, Feeling and Perceiving — I suck up the energy of everything around me, which can be both good and bad. Good in the sense that I can get the “vibe” of a situation or person without having to say or do much, and that I can follow my gut instincts and never be led astray. Bad, however, in the sense that this can sometimes go into overdrive and leave me with complete sensory overstimulation, sometimes so that I can end up with my ears ringing… even when no loud sounds were involved.

(This has actually happened numerous times when I’ve had difficult, urgent or stressful situations at work. Of course, it also happened when I taught Korean kindergartneers, but I think that was completely 100% warranted.)

So you know Google? That whole thing has swept the globe and I blame it for both infiltrating my mind, email inbox and important key documents, and also for making open-plan offices en vogue. While they are great and kitschy and “cool” and stuff, they also mean that you don’t really have privacy or much space to yourself, and when you are the type of person to feel every ripple of the energetic landscape (or something like that), this can make it difficult to focus.

In fact, I’ve realised recently that my most important asset is focus, and it’s also my greatest liability. With it, I’m able to achieve so much, so quickly and to a very high standard. It’s great, and it makes me feel good. But all too often, this delicate, fragile snowflake of an idea is compromised, leading to me playing with things on my desk or literally just spinning in my chair. It seems only right at 3pm.

So, I wanted to share some lil’ tips for anyone who may be experience the same or a similar thing. I know I’m particularly sensitive to this stuff, but I think this could apply to a lot of people. But you can decide for yourself!

1. Wear BIG headphones (this is hugely important)

I don’t do this often enough — I usually wear small earbuds — but when you have big eff-off headphones on, peeps are 90% less likely to disturb you. Also, it’s easier to focus because they surround your ears and no external noise can get in… just the way I like it.

2. Listen to calming music

I often have classical music playing because it makes me feel at peace. And also like a cultured music snob. But mainly at peace.

3. Take your time

At some point, I need to take responsibility for the pressure I feel to get things done, and realise that it’s all in my head. I think introverts often take on a lot of extra energy from the environment around them (although, don’t we all?), and I sometimes make these false deadlines in my head. Instead, I’ve discovered it’s best if I just take my time, and funnily enough, I get way more done too.

4. Snack

Okay, so this is a bit of a cop-out point, but important nonetheless. I’m really sensitive to blood sugar drops, and when it happens, it happens quick. Like, within a matter of minutes, I will get dizzy and faint and so on. This has led me to constant snacking and hydration — I like to be surrounded by at least 3 drinks (non-alcoholic, of course). It really is the only answer… I can’t help it if I need to always be eating.

5. Make nice friends

You know, introverts don’t hate people. In fact, I love people! I really do. I just need to make sure I have enough time by myself so I’m not a growly bear when I’m around them. This has nothing to do with them, and I actually get really happy when I have nice conversations with a lot of my friends at work.

The key here is to make sure the people you’re around lift you up, make you laugh, and that you “vibe”. There’s no real way to describe a proper “vibing” — you just know when it’s there, and you really know when it’s not. Be choosy about the people you spend time with, and don’t feel bad about being that way. It’s better for everybody — and you’ll be able to give your friends and loved ones such better quality time and attention.

So, that’s about it. Does this resonate with you? I’d love to hear in the comments — any introvert-friendly workplace tips would never go astray!

Steph x

4 comments
  1. Even though I’m INTP-A, I really get your points, especially about being choosy with friends! I don’t have a lot of them, and my family complains that I am too picky and ‘superior’, but like you say, it’s your and your friend’s time you’re investing so it needs to be right for all of you!

    1. Absolutely Laura! I think it’s only fair on yourself (and your friends) to be upfront about this. Nothing to be guilty about!

      I’m increasingly realising the importance of the people around me, and how they affect my state. I know I’m ultimately responsible for this, so choosing to surround myself with positive, inspiring and uplifting people helps me to be my best self — and saves a lot of unnecessary grumpiness. 😉

      Thanks for your comment — really happy this resonated with you!

  2. Good idea about the large earphones! I’ve only worn earbuds so far, because they’re more convenient to take to and from work. I might just get myself some large ones just for the office 🙂 I also like to get out of the way from confrontation – this post really puts emphasis on sending emails instead of talking to the person directly and I do that a lot now too. Maybe there are some tips there that can help you out as well 🙂

    1. Haha yes earbuds are probably are more social option, but girl, you gotta do what you gotta do! And thanks for passing that on — anything that helps introverts to live more peacefully is just fine by me 🙂

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