How Introverts Succeed in an Extrovert World

Introverts succeed when they, “Stop trying to be like extroverts and tap into their strengths.” Jennifer Kahnweiler, author of, The Genius of Opposites.


Tap strengths:

  1. Listen and paraphrase. Give yourself time to reflect by paraphrasing what you’ve heard.
  2. Get quiet. Recharge yourself with quiet time.
  3. Have one-on-ones.
  4. Write. Look within with writing. Explore options, decompress, and find solutions with your pen.

4 ways leaders develop introverts:

  1. Preparation. Introverts need time to prepare. Don’t put them on the spot. Send the agenda ahead of time, for example. When I bring up an unplanned idea to my introvert team members, I relieve stress by saying we can decide next week.
  2. Presence. Don’t bring up unexpected items before a presentation, for example. Help introverts stay in the moment. Remove distractions don’t create them.
  3. Push. Introverts know how to push themselves. Encourage them to push and acknowledge their efforts. What are you pushing through? How are you pushing yourself?
  4. Practice. Refine skills with practice. Extroverts may feel OK just trying things, not introverts.

Tapping the genius of opposites*:

Don’t fix. Leverage the genius of introverts and extroverts. They aren’t broken.

  1. Accept the alien: You can’t change…you can understand.
  2. Bring on the battles: Better solutions are generated when introverts and extroverts find solutions together.
  3. Cast the character: Understand each other’s role and share the credit.
  4. Destroy the dislike: Talk openly about differences. Humor brings people together. Gently laugh about different perspectives.
  5. Each can’t offer everything: Celebrate diversity and generate the widest range of options.

*Adapted from, The Genius of Opposites.

Introvert friendly environments:

  1. Stop prejudging..
  2. Learn the strengths and weaknesses of both.
  3. Exploit strengths.
  4. Find solutions as teams.
  5. Give introverts emotional and physical space. Allow for pauses.

This post is based on my interview with Jennifer Kahnweiler, author of, The Genius of Opposites. I highly recommend her book. 

Sample chapter.

How might leaders create introvert friendly environments?

What important about working with our opposite?