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An Introvert’s Survival Guide In An Extroverted Workplace

Merriam-Webster defines introverts as those who are typically reserved, quiet, introspective, and enjoy spending time alone. Extroverts, according to Merriam-Webster, are talkative, open, and seek frequent social interactions. There are also some people who are quiet, viewed as aloof, require alone time to recharge, yet are extroverted with people they are close to and trust.

People in this third group can also appear extroverted in professional settings, especially when the job is important to the employee. It is important to define these personality types to better understand our co-workers. As someone who is interested in free trait theory and fits into this third grouping, I’ve learned a few things that have helped me survive jobs in healthcare specialties: from acute care to optometry!

Team Dynamics

We are all familiar with the ‘faces of the company’ and team leaders. There’s a good chance practices wouldn’t run as smoothly without these human dynamos, yet the folks who concentrate on minutiae are equally as important. Detail oriented tasks such as those handled by a referrals specialist, insurance and prior authorizations coordinator, inventory control, people who handle edging and mounting lenses, or writing policies and procedures – these are the types of activities that attract those of us who prefer a lower profile.

Collaboration And Communication

Great consideration should be given to the concept that each employee will have their own way of collaborating on office projects and communicating their ideas to the team. Handwritten, email or verbal are a few common communication styles. Managers that are attuned to their staff can take workplace consideration a step further by emailing employees ahead of office meetings and project idea launches to get feedback, questions, and concerns addressed prior to these meetings. Keeping to the previously approved agenda and allotted meeting length is always appreciated. I love a manager that allows employees to get back to work when topics that don’t affect every team member run long.

Coordinating Quiet Workspaces

Many offices have adopted open floor plans; perfect for patients to navigate from reception to exam lanes, and finally the frame gallery. Open floor plans may work in some specialties, but this lack of defined workspaces, employees traveling through office areas that they aren’t necessarily assigned to, and high levels of noise and activity may be exhausting to introverts. Designate enclosed areas with a phone extension, desk, chair, computer or laptop, and basic office supplies to accommodate team members that need a time out from constant activity to concentrate on completing work tasks that require extra attention.

Embrace Those Mandatory Rest Breaks!

Ringing phones, incessant chatter, children screaming, hard of hearing, and disgruntled patients can all conspire to make any introverted employee run away screaming. Get comfortable leaving your workspace for a ten-minute decompression session. When weather permits, a walk around the block does wonders to clear the mind. Take advantage of any closed-door areas for a quick, gentle yoga session or practice deep breathing to calm jangled nerves  I also pop into our in-house lab and replace the stickers on blocking pads, or thin our paper charts in the archived records room.

If you identify as an introvert, leave me a comment with some of your favorite ways to decompress during a busy shift!

Written by: Lisa Fromm

2 thoughts on “An Introvert’s Survival Guide In An Extroverted Workplace”

  1. Great stuff! I’m a fairly social introvert, so while I love spending time with those who I’m close to, it can be draining. It’s not much of an issue for me when it comes to work since I’m self-employed and work from home. But even so, I like to get out of the condo for lunch most days and read while I eat for a change of pace. And working out – cardio with my earbuds in and a favorite show on my Kindle – is a good way for me to be around people but not have to be particularly social. And regular meals / coffee with my closest friends does recharge me socially, while avoiding the draining nature of making small talk. 🙂

  2. Thanks Lisa! Understanding our peers and colleagues’ preferences (when they differ from ours!) is crucial to a positive work environment and relationships in general! I am sharing with my team!

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