can introverts and extroverts work together happily?

Introverts: How often are you annoyed by too much noise and talking from extroverts at work?

Extroverts: Do introverted coworkers come across as chilly or aloof to you?

I know none of you have strong opinions on this (cough).

Most work groups will have a mix of introverts and extroverts in them, and their differing work styles can cause conflict or frustration if not managed well.< Extroverts, after all, tend to engage in more social interaction at work, and often prefer or even need to talk through ideas and processes in order to be their most productive. Introverts, on the other hand, often prefer to work in relative quiet without interruptions and can have trouble focusing when there’s constant conversation around them. Extraverts can easily annoy introverts by too much noise and talking, and introverts can come across to extraverts as chilly or aloof. These differences can affect both job satisfaction and productivity. If you’ve got a team full of extroverts and one or two introverts, those introverts can end up with nowhere quiet to focus and feeling drained by interruptions or noise around them. Alternately, if introverts dominate on your team, the extroverts who find themselves in the minority might feel isolated and have their own troubles being productive if they get more done when they’re able to talk things out and bounce ideas off of other people. So when you’re managing a team with mixed work styles, how do you resolve conflicts between introverts’ need for quiet and focus and extroverts’ need for talking and collaboration?  Here are five compromises that will let everyone,  regardless of where they fall on the introvert/extrovert scale, be reasonably comfortable and productive. 1. Cultivate an office-wide awareness of different working styles. Openly acknowledging differing preferences along the introversion/extroversion scale is an essential step to figuring out solutions that will work. If introverts come to understand that extroverts are often more productive through conversation, and extroverts come to understand that introverts aren’t freezing them out when they put on headphones and keep their heads down, you’re more likely to find compromises people are happy with.

2. Zone your office space for different work styles. Designate some space for conversations and groups working together where people can make noise without guilt, and designate other spaces “quiet space.” If you can, let people choose where they work, and let people move from one to the other as their work needs dictate. You don’t need to revamp your entire physical space, but simply having some quiet conference rooms (and encouraging people to use them when they need quiet space to focus) can go a long way.

3. If your space is limited, encourage people to go off-site when they need quiet or interaction. If you don’t have spare conference rooms to zone for these uses, encourage people to go off-site when they need to. If their roles allow it, your introverts might be thrilled to work from home or a coffee shop when they particularly need to focus. And your extroverts might love the idea of holding a group brainstorm at the pizza shop next door.

4. Consider having set “quiet hours” each day, where any noisy activities take place in rooms with closed doors.Otherwise, introverts may end up feeling like they’re always having to flee shared space if they need to concentrate in a quiet area. This is something you can do team-wide if people like the idea, or it might just be a solution for an otherwise mismatched pair who share an office to implement on their own.

You can balance that with “noisy hours” too if there’s a need for it!

5. Make “let’s take this to a meeting room” a standard phrase in your culture. Create a norm on your team where after a certain amount of time, a conversation is deemed a “meeting” and moves to a more appropriate location (like a conference room). This will allow extroverts to keep having the discussions they may need to work effectively, but without creating ongoing distractions for those who need a quieter space to work.

{ 153 comments… read them below }

  1. Random Name*

    I’m an introvert, but I actually prefer to work with extroverts. In fact, I work on trying to come across to people as an extrovert such as chitchatting in the break room while making lunch even though I’d rather keep to myself. I used to be in client facing roles and found I was much more successful and perceived better by others when I faked being an extrovert.

    1. YourCdnFriend*

      I don’t see that as faking but more “adapting”. Which I think is a super smart skill to have. I am an extrovert but often adapt myself to be more quiet and reserved to ensure others have an opportunity to share their expertise.

      1. Random Name*

        I guess “faking it” is kind of the wrong phrase. I force myself to be the “me” I am when I’m around my husband or close friends. I’m not predisposed to wanting to work in groups, speak out in meetings, or just start conversations with people I don’t know, and doing those things does tend to drain my energy and cause me to need more alone time.

    2. VictoriaHR*

      I’m an introvert and autistic who was diagnosed late into adulthood (age 39) and I’ve had to learn to “fake it” to “pass” as a neurotypical or extrovered person. It definitely feels like faking it at times and at other times more natural. Now I’ve got an advantage over autistics who didn’t have to learn how to pass in the workplace.

      1. Lana*

        I got my autism diagnosis at 35 and I knew I was an introvert well before that! I agree, I’m glad I had to/was able to develop the skills to pass when I need to, because they’re very useful. But that’s something that usually takes a lot of work and energy that I don’t always have to spare, so I’ve been learning how to balance taking care of myself with getting along in neurotypical society, and when passing is or isn’t worth the effort. The more energy I have and the better my mood is, the easier it is to pass and the more natural it feels. But I work from home now because the sensory and social overload in my office got to be way too much for me. I’m glad I have a job where I can easily work from home, and I’m also glad I don’t have serious overloads or meltdowns multiple times in a week!

    3. INTP*

      It’s definitely handy to be able to project extrovert energy, and that’s a skill I’m very glad I acquired, because otherwise I probably would have been unemployed with my psych degree. However, when I wind up in a job that requires it for hours per day, I wind up totally running out of energy and involuntarily shutting down much more than normal. Sometimes I can maintain it all day at work for survival purposes, but then I’ll be miserable in my personal life. I’m now in a field where my personality type is more of an asset than a liability and it’s so refreshing, and great for my mental health.

      I do like having extroverts at work on my teams because you can split up the work that each of you dreads doing. I’m thrilled to settle in with a mug of tea and do menial tasks on my computer without talking to anyone all day and they can handle the interpersonal stuff.

      1. Random Name*

        I notice the same thing about myself: that after I’m required to be “on” all day, I tend to be even more withdrawn in my personal life and stay away from any activities that would require me to socialize and be around a lot of people. Getting out of client facing roles where I spent most of my time at client sites helped a lot because now I don’t have to put on a show all day, every day at work.

        1. mirror*

          Right there with you both! I’m a wedding photographer and having to be “on” for 8+ hrs of non stop socializing is killer. It takes me a week to recover mentally.

      2. Sociable Introvert*

        This is why I almost never go out to lunch with my coworkers. By noon I’ve had enough of them. After an hour away I’m ready for another four hours.

        1. INTP*

          This reminds me of the receptionist at my old job who used to lecture anyone who didn’t join the group for lunch on how you need to “unwind” and “refresh” at lunch (I guess she assumed we were all just working through lunch, getting stressed out). I wanted to scream, “I cannot unwind and refresh with you talking at me!” I was, however, perfectly unwound and refreshed after an hour of scrolling through pinterest or sitting outside with my kindle.

      3. themmases*

        I have the same thing. I used to be on call to talk to patients I’d never met before, explain a complex procedure to them, and ask them to participate in research that day. It was awesome! I helped a lot of people answer questions about their procedure they may not even have known they had, and at least as rewarding as my introvert data analysis activities.

        But it was energizing like sticking my finger in a socket. I’d top out at about 3 a day before it started making me cranky and anxious no matter how much I enjoyed it.

    4. Sociable Introvert*

      We all have a “game face” for work. No matter what we do, there will be some times of the day when we can’t be totally ourselves. I’m sure my doctor has times when he doesn’t want to see one more patient but he always has his game face on when he greets me. That’s part of the job.

  2. HR Manager*

    I like your suggestions. The important thing, in my opinion, is certainly recognizing the value in both styles, and its strengths and weaknesses to both. Most organizations need both to succeed and having a culture and environment that values both, and allows someone to utilize their inherent strengths based on those styles are the most conducive to bringing out the most productivity in their staff.

    I know evaluations (tests, if you will) have been hotly debated here to its value, but my personal opinion, that those done well truly add a lot of insight into your own work style (even introvert and extrovert may be too simplistic to describe everyone) and to your colleagues. It’s just as much about knowing how you work best, but also how to your partner likes to work and process information and make decisions. The person who adapts and adjusts to this is going to be more effective.

  3. Anonicorn*

    I didn’t realize being unable to focus on work while people talk loudly is a characteristic of introversion.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I didn’t mean to imply that, but now see that I have! I meant the desire/preference for quiet space to focus on your own thoughts, and to get away from social interaction.

      1. Anonicorn*

        It wouldn’t be a total shock if were, but I see what you’re saying now and it’s totally true.

      2. Mimmy*

        The weird thing is that, for me, I need to be in a quiet space to focus on my own thoughts, but I sometimes need to talk out my thoughts aloud! You would think that’d make me an extrovert, but I am an introvert in every other way. I know that probably makes no sense…it doesn’t to me, lol.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I’m the same way — I’m introverted in most ways, but I do often need to talk through a job with someone to cement the feeling that I’m on the right track.

          I also like to go to lunches with my coworkers, and I mostly enjoy just listening to them and contributing something once in a while when I’m moved to do so. I don’t just sit there stoically, though (which is what I always imagine extroverted people think introverted people do); I listen actively, with appropriate facial expressions (ranging from smiles to concern to stunned horror, if appropriate to the story being told).

          So I guess I’m in the middle, falling more on the introverted side. I do hate that I can’t really always “extrovert” at will — sometimes I involuntarily clam up or shut down, and there isn’t much I can do with myself when that happens. It rarely happens when I’m in one-on-one interaction with someone; it’s mostly when I’m faced with group interaction.

          1. TrainerGirl*

            I’m an extroverted introvert…and I’m a trainer. Which means that after a day being in the classroom or doing a webinar, I need to go home and just. not. talk. I’ve learned to not schedule training back to back and make sure that I have plenty of time to work alone, which helps.

            1. Hlyssande*

              Agreed. I do a lot of training for a particular application via WebEx/conference calls and not face to face, but holy crap I don’t want to do anything or see anyone the weeks I have more than one of those (3 this week :D, 3 last week, previous week including late nights with Singapore and China). :D

              I just want to go home, cuddle the cat, and not deal with people.

        2. Melissa*

          It’s not weird to me, because I am almost directly on the line between introversion and extraversion. I lean towards extraverted but I share that weirdness – it sometimes helps me to talk my ideas out with others, but after about 5 minutes of that I just want to be left alone so I can write/think quietly. LOL.

    2. YourCdnFriend*

      Probably not a characteristic that everyone shares but it certainly can be for some.

      As an extrovert, I do my best and fastest thinking in a loud and engaging environment (lots of discussions, arguments and the like). On the other hand, when left to my own devices in a quiet space I can often get distracted and bored.

    3. INTP*

      There’s some evidence that introverts tend to be more sensitive to external stimuli and not as good at filtering things out. That’s just a tendency of course, not a characteristic of 100% of introverts and 0% of extroverts, but it’s still worth discussing when you talk about making your work environment welcoming to both types.

      1. Iro*

        I that that was actually conflated with HSPs “Highly Senstive People” who are often mislabled as introverted because their senses can easily be overloaded.

        I spent my whole life confused why I worked/studied like an introvert but gained energy from conversations and connecting with (small groups) of people and then I discovered it’s because I’m an HSP.

        1. Natasha*

          Are you into the Myers-Briggs personality types (E/I, N/S, F/T, J/P)? I am an INFJ and probably an HSP too (these two often go together). This personality type is technically introverted, but we are “extroverted feelers.” So for example, I need to talk to someone in order to deal with something that’s bothering me. Similarly, the few times I find people I connect with, it’s very hard for me to get sick of them… but I am generally exhausted by superficial social interactions.

          Apparently 30% of HSPs are extroverts. So if that is you, you’re not alone!

          1. Iro*

            I am into myers-briggs and I hover between INTJ and ENTJ but usually fall on the INTJ side.

            Framing these conversations using HSP has really helped me though. I admit that it will be a trying experience, and then I prepare for the situation by learning as much about what to expect as possible and planning to take at least a 3-day weekend (if not more) following the event.

            Throwing an HSP into a loud party/conference/networking event is like spraying a blood hound in the face with a strong perfume.

              1. Nashira*

                There’s a regular visitor to my office who has gained the nickname “the toxic job-role” because of how strong her perfume is. Management has even asked her to not wear it, but she ignores them. She’s the head of company we work extremely closely with, so we’ve all learned to just suck it up, migraines and asthma attacks be damned.

                It’s SO frustrating.

        2. Melissa*

          This is the first I am hearing about this but I looked it up, and I’m pretty sure I’m a “highly sensitive person” by their definition. In fact, I spent most of this evening curled up in a ball on my couch in the dark because a combination of too much caffeine and not enough food made me faint and sick, and praying that my dog would not bark at me lol.

          But part of it may also be that you’re just not a strong extravert. It’s not a categorical thing so much as a continuum, and you can be high or low on that continuum. I’m technically an extravert – or at least that’s how I would define myself – but I’m a very introverted extravert.

      2. mirror*

        I’m an introvert but found I’m too good at tuning things out. I can get extremely focused on a task in a busy/loud environment and then not hear when someone is asking me a question/door bell/phone/etc.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I do that, too. I was so focused on a task the other day, that the FedEx guy was standing at my desk waiting for a signature, and my coworker at the desk next to mine had to get up and come around to sign for them! It was only then that I looked up and noticed that the FedEx guy had been standing there waiting for me. That was a little embarrassing, since I’m supposed to act as the office manager/receptionist and one of the designers had to get up and take care of that for me :-0

      3. JM in England*

        I can fully empathise with you on introverts being more sensitive to external stimuli. Like others have already said, having to put on an extrovert “front” in the workplace can be extremely draining. Worked shifts for nearly 10 years and found that I got lots more done on nights and weekend days due to there being fewer distractions.

        As an aside, I believe that not coming across as extrovert in interviews has cost me opportunities in the past………………

  4. MaryMary*

    Related to the last few points, meeting rooms or common office space with closed doors is so important to productivity in general. Unless you work in an environment where everyone has their own office (which I don’t think exists anymore), you need space where people can have confidential conversations. Not just internal management/strategic, performance/career, or personal conversations, but client conversations too (for example, about a pending merger, acquisition, or financial matter). The last few offices I’ve worked in have had very limited common space that could be made private, and it drives me nuts.

  5. processimprovement*

    Try being an extrovert married to an introvert.
    Everyone should read Quiet by Susan Cain, really helps us to all understand each other. There are so many benefits to having a balanced team! Both styles have so much to bring to the table. I liked Alison suggestions on how to accommodate both.

    1. Beezus*

      OMG, I hate to go too far off topic, but worst year ever – being an introvert, with a job that required a lot of people time, married to an extrovert, with a job that involved being shut in a room alone all day with no one to talk to. Figuring out why we were quarrelling as soon as we got home every night took a couple of months – it was ROUGH. He would follow me around the house chattering away, while I fought the urge to scream because I could not handle more people time; he felt like I was shutting him out, I felt like he was smothering me; he subconsciously developed the habit of following me into rooms and then standing in the doorway while he talked to me, so I couldn’t go anywhere until I had heard him out. It was nuts – and then we realized what was going on. He learned to send me a warning text if he felt especially talky before he got home, and I learned to call a time out and shut myself in the bedroom alone for half an hour of quiet time a few times a week. Just knowing why we were driving each other crazy helped. He now has a job that involves lots and lots of people time, and things are much happier.

      1. Noelle*

        I had this situation last year! I was an introvert with a meeting-heavy office job (with a ton of extrovert office mates too), and my fiance is a total extrovert who was working from home last year as a researcher. I always felt so bad when I came home after a long day completely drained, and he’d been sitting around all day bored waiting for someone to interact with! Fortunately he has an office job now so he gets a lot more socialization throughout the day. Now if I could just find a job where I could work from home!

        1. Iro*

          This is a serious issue with homemakers as well. Even if the homemaker is an introvert, the spouse out working is slowly filling their conversation quota throughout the day while the homemaker is sitting on empty. It’s actually where the myth that women speak more words a day then men stems from.

          1. Noelle*

            That’s interesting, and it makes sense. Even though I’m an introvert I definitely need conversation and interaction. I just want to actually choose who I spend that energy on, instead of being forced to expend it at work unnecessarily.

      2. Mabel*

        Figuring this stuff out can be so helpful! My ex is an introvert who needs a lot of alone time, and I’m an extrovert who needs almost zero alone time. Sometimes labels are not good, but this case, it was so helpful to learn about our differences so we could accommodate each other. I also really appreciated learning that my need to think out loud and talk things over with someone before I knew what course of action I wanted to take (or even what my opinion was) is normal and just how a lot of extroverts are. At the same time, I’m shy and have had to force myself to go up and talk to people at professional association meetings or work events, so I didn’t know I was an extrovert until recently. I’m also really glad I learned about introverts because I’m close to a lot of them, and I can be sensitive to what they need instead of annoying them and not knowing why.

      3. Michele*

        That sounds like a stressful recipe for disaster. I am glad you worked it out. My husband and I are both introverts, but he works from home most days. Even he needs someone to talk to at the end of the day, and I can find it draining (I work in a very busy department, so I don’t get much quiet time). I try to accomodate his need for interaction, but there are times when I just have to tell him to leave me alone (I am fine with quiet cuddling on the couch, I just don’t want to talk).

    2. TheLazyB*

      It was only when I started thinking about E vs I and what my husband is like that I realised how very hard he must find life at times. He never gets a break from people :-/

    3. Cordelia Naismith*

      I second the book recommendation! I just read Quiet this summer, and I found it fascinating.

  6. So Very Anonymous*

    I’m an extrovert, and I really like the idea of having designated spaces for quiet and/or not-quiet work. I do need to be able to have conversations to be productive, and I work collaboratively, but, I also can’t work in a loud environment (too distracting) and need quiet to be able to concentrate. There was an article (in Fast Company I think) awhile ago where an extrovert wrote about preferring to have an actual office (as opposed to an open office plan) because he wanted to be able to talk without bothering people. If real offices aren’t a possibility, then spaces where people can talk seems like the best option.

  7. Wildkitten*

    I can’t tell when my introvert co-workers are mad at me, or just withdrawing because they are generally stressed.

    1. PuppyPetter*

      Alas, we can’t always tell either (says the introvert!). It’s not really that we are angry or upset about something but more that we need to process things in our own minds. A friend is a huge extrovert (an energy sucking being is what she is) and nags at me over and over again when I am trying to process a thought and then gets angry when I withdraw. needs to let me come to her…

      Best thing to do? Give the person a little space and then later ask if they need something.

    2. JMegan*

      Yeah, that’s a communication thing that both sides need to work on. Introverts need to practice saying “I’m okay, I just need some quiet time for a few minutes,” and extroverts need to practice being okay with hearing it.

      I had an (extroverted) roommate for a while who never understood that. To her, “I’m going to my room to read” meant “I’m very sad and I need you to come in and comfort me.” So she would give me ten minutes or so and then come in to comfort me…and then she would be surprised to see me happily reading!

      Likewise, extroverts can say “I need to bounce some ideas off you, is now a good time?” rather than just starting in with the ideas. Introverts can often participate quite happily in that kind of activity, if they’re given a bit of notice.

      It’s really all about communication – both types need to be able to say what they need, and to acknowledge what the other person needs.

    3. Sociable Introvert*

      Assume they’re just happy in their own heads and just don’t feel like talking. You can ask how things are, but not too often! They’re not “withdrawing” or stressed. That’s just how some people are. People who talk too much are often doing so out of insecurity you know!

  8. BRR*

    I don’t prefer how people classify themselves as introverts and extroverts. I think these things are just preferences and not everything can fit into one of two boxes and people may not align with everything or they might switch.

    1. Mike*

      Well introversion and extroversion are suppose to be a continuum and not a one or the other.

      Really, the vast majority of these types of article get it wrong. Intro/extroversion is about recharging. I’m highly (70+%) introverted but at work I’m leading discussions, talking to people, and generally being “social”. When I get home I just want some quiet time to recharge. Conversely I know some extroverted people who aren’t as open during work but go out partying at night.

      Instead of making this about intro/extroversion can we instead make this about preferred working styles and environment? And recognize that is is a fluid and changing thing?

      1. BRR*

        I feel like most people don’t think of it as a continuum. I hear “I’m an introvert/extrovert so a,b, and c.” This is just a personal pet peeve of mine and everybody can ignore me, I’m grumpy today.

        1. JMegan*

          No, I agree. I think a lot of people are using it as an excuse, like these types are set in stone and people never behave outside of type. We’re not quite at the point of “I can’t go out tonight, I’m an introvert!” but I feel like the conversation leans that way sometimes.

          I think there’s a lot of value in having the conversation, and understanding people’s different tendencies along this scale. But at the same time, there’s a real danger in labelling people (or in people labelling themselves) as exclusively one or the other and then modelling their behaviour after the label, rather than the other way around.

        2. AnotherAlison*

          I admit to the behavior you are complaining about.

          See the introversion/extroversion spectrum as a continuum. Maybe someone is 50/50, maybe someone is 90/10, but I don’t see myself moving around on the scale. I’ve noted I am one who speaks up in group discussions and takes charge of teams, but I think that’s all within my introvert behavior/personality and doesn’t mean I am an extrovert in those situations.

          My complaint is that I find people are really consistent with their behavior. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily extroversion/introversion, but once you’ve seen how a person behaves, that tends to be how they behave. So maybe it’s not “I’m an introvert, so I hate chatting up strangers at tradeshows,” but it is definitely, “I’m me and I hate chatting up strangers at tradeshows,” AND I have zero interest in changing that behavior.

          1. AnotherAlison*

            Correction: *I see the introversion . . .

            Also, ETA: I think the labels serve their purpose as a shorthand to help people understand you and you to understand yourself. I struggled growing up with not fitting in. I don’t fit in better now, but I realize now that lots of people’s thought and behavior patterns fit “T” and mine fit “Q” and there are not so many “Q”s out there. I suppose it shouldn’t really help me because people still think I’m weird, but it does.

      2. Well*

        Totally agree on the “recharging” point, as I’m the same way. I can gladhand and network and lead meetings and present and argue and discuss and so on with the best of them. (Well, maybe not with the best of them, but reasonably well.) And to be clear, when it goes well, I enjoy doing it. But it makes me *tired*. The stuff that energizes me at work is a plan well-made, a proposal well-written, a particularly clever approach strategy that gets us the grant, etc.

      3. HR Generalist*


        I’m an outgoing introvert. It’s a struggle because everyone naturally assumes I’m an extrovert. I have trouble explaining to my spouse why I need ‘quiet time’ after I’m dragged along with his friends for a group outing, despite being chatty and social during the event.

        1. HM in Atlanta*

          This is such a hard thing for people to understand sometimes. “You’re an introvert? But you’re so fun!” as though that’s a wild leap.

        2. JMegan*

          I’m the same way. Fortunately, my partner is both more outgoing than I am, and more introverted than I am, so there’s no explaining that needs to be done on that scale.

          The most challenging part for me is dealing with my extroverted, outgoing, energetic 4-year-old! I love him to bits of course, but it can be really draining for me to spend long periods of time with him.

          1. Judy*

            I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t matter if the 4 year old was extroverted or introverted, they’re all energetic.


    2. Z*

      That’s true for every single aspect of a person. Very few people fit into any given box entirely, and people can change as they grow. It’s a handy shorthand to help people relate to each other. It’s also a little deeper than just preference, it’s personality and individual needs.

    3. Formerly Bee*

      It’s kind of silly, especially with MBTI, which doesn’t indicate the intensity of traits. Really, I think a lot of us have more average, balanced personalities, but identify with strong descriptors because they’re interesting or less ambiguous or something.

      1. Recca*

        The MBTI course I went on for professional development certainly did indicate the intensity of traits. My other three aspects were about a 60/40 split. But I was 90/10 introvert/extravert. It made so many things make more sense when I saw that.

    4. Natasha*

      This is why I prefer the Myers-Briggs to the Extroversion vs. Introversion debate. The former recognizes that we all have both introverted and extroverted traits, some more extremely so than others. For example, as an INFJ I am an extroverted feeler and an introverted sensor.

    5. ThursdaysGeek*

      Now that I don’t believe the boxes are important, it doesn’t bother me when I don’t fit in them.

  9. SFGuy*

    There’s a myth that introverts aren’t social or that extroverts can’t have alone time. My therapist explained it as follows:

    Both introverts and extroverts like to be around people. The difference is:

    When introverts are around people their gas tank starts to drain out. To refill, they need time alone.

    When extroverts AREN’T around people their gas tank starts to drain out. To refill, they need time around people.

    The moral: keep those tanks full! I know I’m basically an introvert so whenever I’m going to have an intense 2-3 days of meetings I will take a vacation day on Friday or something similar to recover.

    1. puddin*

      Oh boy! I hate going for a day or two without meaningful interaction. I then feel the need to be around people to re-gain my energy. On the other hand, nothing will shut me down more quickly than being in a group of more than 4 people who all want to talk or just chit chat. Then I need to go away and re-charge.

      What am I????

        1. puddin*

          Nope average or less than average in those cases. I am fairly oblivious to most of what goes on around me too. Incredible powers of focus as a result, but highly sensitive not so much.

      1. Tau*

        Yeah, I tend to find this pretty simplified. For one, I’d be surprised if any human being did well with zero social interaction or zero time alone. For another, time alone =/= time alone and social interaction =/= social interaction, especially the latter – there’s a pretty big difference between “time spent with people” at a large party thrown by an acquaintance of yours where you don’t know 90% of those attending or “time spent with people” in a small informal gathering at your place with your closest friends.

        And I’m probably “technically” an extrovert in that I absolutely find myself slowly grinding to a halt if I haven’t had any social interaction for a while, but at the same time not having a good amount of time alone does bad, bad things to my psyche too. So at the end of the day it seems to be six of one, half a dozen of the other from where I’m standing. Ambivert pride?

    2. Kelly L.*

      This is how I had to explain it to my BF! I’m an introvert…who loves to talk. He couldn’t believe I was an introvert because I’m chatty, especially with people I’m comfortable with, and I had to explain it with a gas metaphor.

    3. INTP*

      This is a good way to look at it, and I wish it was better known and more widely-accepted to avoid some of the introvert-nightmare scenarios that are common in professional life. (For example, the conference trip, where everyone is supposed to be at the conference networking all day, then have dinner with the group and linger over drinks as long as potential clients want to linger, for days in a row. This is like an extrovert being told that you will not only do all of your work without speaking to a soul for 3 days, you will also be expected to spend your outside-work hours alone as well, not speaking to a soul sun-up to sun-down, maybe a little phone call in the evening if you aren’t too tired. You survive, but there are times in the process that you don’t want to.)

      1. Iro*


        Add to that a car pool trip to and from the site with co-workers and you have the one time I seriously considered just walking away and never coming back. : D

        1. madge*

          Yes! ^^This makes my brain shriek “escape!!”

          Also, to me, “retreat” is the most terrifying word in the English language. I barely want to discuss my feelings with family; make me do it with colleagues (who I do genuinely like and respect) and I’m tempted to make something up just to move the experience along. I’m the introverted data nerd/writer in a group of extroverted fundraisers.

          It’s great to see this discussion/topic here. I love the honesty that’s still respectful. :)

      2. Nerdling*

        I have a couple of conferences coming up that will be like this. If they were any longer, I’d be in trouble, because I will have to be on-point all day, and I’ll be expected to go out for dinner afterward at least one night out of every two, when all I’ll want is to curl up on the couch of my hotel room with some takeout.

        In our office, we have a nice mix of extroverts and introverts. The problem is that it’s all open, with minimal places to retreat to with proper computer access when we need to get away and concentrate. That’s not due to personalities but due to budgetary constraints and the currently popular notions that you get more done by having everyone out on top of one another with minimal walls separating them.

      3. Michele*

        That is why I hated interviewing. Most interviews would last two days. There would be travel (because what is a job interview without the added stress of air travel?), meeting with people, dinner with a group, then interviews, a presentation, lunch with a group, more interviews the next day. It was emotionally exhausting to have to be “on” with so many people and not have any downtime.

        1. JM in England*

          I especially hate group interviews, where the extroverts tend to take charge and overshadow things. Get the impression that companies who do this prefer style over substance.

    4. Lily in NYC*

      Yes! I label myself as a “gregarious introvert”. I am very outgoing but need lots of alone time. Lots and lots and lots of it.

    5. JAL*

      Same! I’m like 58/42 on the introversion / extroversion scale and I can talk up a storm. I like managing and supervising and talking to people, but I also tend to be quiet and listen to people a lot of the time but when I’m under pressure, I won’t shut up and I’m glad for that as long as I don’t get verbal diarrhea during it. I hate my job because I don’t get to talk to people enough. I’m going for a civil service job where my duties include interviewing people a lot of the time (the fact that the salary [which is a huge step up from now, as I am in an hourly position] is twice as much as I make right now is also nice)

  10. Z*

    I’m a strong introvert, and extroverts can be quite intense to me. I can work with, and even befriend, them though. My dad is a strong extrovert and my mom is a strong introvert (they got divorced, unrelated to that, it was amiable and both were majorly involved in my life), so I suppose I’m used to it because of that. It does take a little bit of leeway on both sides, but that’s true in virtually all relationships. Very rarely will two co-workers perfectly mesh and get along on all subjects (most FRIENDS can’t do that!), and both just have to be able to be respectful of the differences.

    Sometimes I’ll see people who use “introverted” to justify being anti-social. If you’re an introvert, you should still be friendly.

    1. INTP*

      I agree that everyone should be civil and polite, but for some people the definition of “friendly” is more intense – being warm, seeming very engaged in the conversation, engaging in plenty of small talk. I do that to the extent that I can but it costs me a lot of my “social energy” and some days I have too much interaction to get through, or I’m emotionally tired for other reasons, and I just can’t project warmth or deal with small talk with everyone. I try to avoid outright rudeness (if I’m rude it’s because I was distracted, not on purpose), but some days I am definitely going to seem like a cold and aloof person.

      (I don’t know if that’s even what you meant by being friendly, and I think there’s more to it for me than just being introverted – some introverts are naturally super warm people – just throwing out there for the general community that when an introvert seems to be unfriendly with you, they might just be tired.)

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Sometimes the really intense kind of “friendliness” seems overwhelming or boundary-pushing to me. I’m more of an arm’s-length-politeness sort of person, and “friendly” means that the politeness comes with a moderate smile and some conversational nodding. I can be more warm with people that I’m close to, but I can’t fake that kind of warm closeness with a mere conversational partner (I’m not saying that I think all those warm friendly people are faking it; I’m saying that it would be fake if I had to try to do it).

  11. INTP*

    I’m an introvert and I’ve never had issues with an individual due to their extroversion. I have, however, had issues with company cultures being extroverted in nature to the point that I had to exhaust myself or behave in ways that were unnatural to me to avoid repercussions. Such as:
    -Workplace 1, where we had highly interactive, attention-demanding jobs and were expected to socialize with coworkers during lunch and after work. I was explicitly told that yoga class is not an acceptable excuse for missing happy hour (a spontaneous happy hour proposed at 4pm, not an organized one).
    -Workplace 2, where I kept getting in trouble for “not generating ideas” or “not taking risks” no matter how many ideas I had implemented. I figured out that “generating ideas” and “taking risks” meant “blurting things out in meetings.” Extroverts are more likely to be able to do quality creative thinking in a collaborative environment, I need to mull things over later. So I started blurting out whatever I could think of mid-meeting to meet my quota of risks and ideas and none were implemented but the CEO stopped telling me he was disappointed in me. (I also continued to generate better ideas behind the scenes and not get credit for them.)

    1. Natasha*

      There’s a reason I stay away from the business world but the human services field has its own challenges. Call me naive, but I wonder: Would it be inappropriate to say you don’t drink alcohol and prefer to stay away from it in denying a work invitation to happy hour?

      1. INTP*

        It shouldn’t be inappropriate, but I think that giving that reason without context (“My religion forbids being in the presence of alcohol”) is likely to make people feel you’re judging them and react defensively. Some people are just weird about nondrinkers and light drinkers, let alone people who don’t even want to be around it. Workplace #1 was actually in the human services field (my first and only social services job), so while people in that field might be a little more aware of possibilities like alcoholism or trauma from alcoholic abusers, it’s not a guarantee that everyone will be understanding. I personally would come up with another explanation (an obligation every weeknight?) if you don’t want to disclose the reason why you stay away from alcohol.

    2. Melissa*

      See, I’m slightly more extraverted than introverted (ENTJ) but both of those workplaces sound like a nightmare to me. I like to talk and chat at work but I hate forced fun and I like to go home after work and be by myself, unless I have pre-arranged plans with people I like.

  12. qkate*

    To me, as long as everyone involved has a base layer of respect and patience for the different ways people operate best, there’s no reason introverts and extroverts can’t work happily together.

    And if you don’t have a base layer of respect and patience for the way other people operate best, you’ve got bigger problems anyway.

  13. Helena*

    Depends on how intro/ extro -verted they are, how it manifests, and what I’m trying to do. I’m an introvert myself and I usually prefer it on the quiet, task focused side. I work with mainly extroverts now, and I like them- sometimes it’s nice to have a background buzz in the atmosphere, and when it gets wearying I can check out with my headphones and pretend I’m on my own. One of my colleagues is even more introverted than I am, though (I hadn’t thought it was possible until I met her), and I can tell that she finds it a very, very hard place to work in- sometimes almost all my colleagues are standing around laughing all at once and it’s extremely loud!

  14. BadPlanning*

    I worked on a team of essentially all introverts/leaning towards shyness. It wasn’t great. All my coworkers were awesome people, but struggled as a group/work dynamic. And if I notice it, one is heavily introverted and also shy, it has to be bad.

    1. fposte*

      Yes, that’s a tough combination. I suppose in mixed teams the problem is that the non-timid dominate, but at least stuff gets done.

    2. Sociable Introvert*

      Introversion and shyness aren’t the same thing. Shyness is fear. Introversion is feeling comfortable alone but not necessarily afraid otherwise.

  15. Ed*

    IMHO, the key is realizing it takes all kinds of people to make the world go around. Too many people think everyone should be exactly like them and their group of friends. And while introverts need to give in occasionally and go along with the crowd, extroverts are often guilty of blaming their lack of fun on introverts being “downers”. Everyone is responsible for their own happiness.

  16. PuppyPetter*

    One of the things I battle with is that the extroverts tend to blow off suggestions from the introverts, ignoring that people are not the same as they are. Personally, in order to concentrate I need a space to myself without chit-chat going on and music on to help me focus (it’s complicated). Most the rest of the staff work in a bullpen atmosphere with several quite people suffering through the noise and the noisy people frustrated that the quiet people aren’t participating.

    It’s funny, in many circumstances people peg me as an extrovert with a great sense of humor and the ability to talk with anyone about almost anything. And they are right, it’s a skill I learned in order to do my job (it involves customer service and talking with people A LOT). But yeah, once I hit people overload? I am hiding under the covers with the cats and background noise. Just me.

    SFGuy is right – it’s more about the power drain and recharge cycle.

  17. Helen*

    I haven’t had any problems in the workplace due to my introversion (INFP) but I did think that grad school (and regular college) was unfairly biased towards extroverts. I hated being forced to come up with things to say just so I wouldn’t get marked off for “not participating.” I also didn’t like that so many discussions were combative in nature/tone. I spoke more in seminars that were more collaborative.

    My favorite professor ever said that he always hated being graded for participation in his classes, so he didn’t give a mark for participation. He was a quiet, shy man and an excellent scholar and teacher.

    1. INTP*

      Usually I find myself doing okay in class discussions because I’m more interested in the material than most and I like to voice my opinions but the main issue I’ve had in grad school is that sometimes one or two people will move the topic along so quickly that by the time I’ve thought of something to say, we’re on a different thread entirely. You have to come up with something to blurt out before the next person can raise their hands or you lose your opportunity. Some people are good collaborative, on-their-feet thinkers and can blurt intelligently but I need to digest the material. (Before people correct me, I know this isn’t a 100% intro/extro thing, but it is a pattern that extroverts tend to think better collaboratively and on their feet without time to reflect than introverts.)

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I find this interesting, because I’m extremely introverted, but you would have to tie my arm down to keep me from volunteering my opinion in a class discussion. Maybe this is because my MBTI type is only one letter off from what I assume is yours (I’m INTJ), but it’s a very important letter in that situation.

        I’ve always done well in education/professional situations where I’ve had to lead, but I kind of suck socially. I just don’t have an interest in chit chat or hanging out. I always feel like socializing is interrupting my thinking time. I was thinking (!) about this the other day. . .I always like to go to dance clubs (but am now too old), but I realized it’s probably because you don’t have to talk to people and are fairly anonymous. No one is going to bore me with conversations I don’t want to hear there.

    2. Melissa*

      This is one of the reasons I tried to incorporate different ways to participate other than speaking out in large group/whole class discussions – like breakout sessions and small group or pair work. Not everyone is comfortable speaking out loud in front of a whole group. However, I do feel like class participation in large groups isn’t necessarily an anti-introvert thing – many introverts are excellent presenters and enjoy talking in front of others. It’s simply potentially more draining for them to do so. (And for me, I’m mostly an extravert, but I’m a slow thinker who likes a lot of time to work out my comments and thoughts. So often meetings go by before I can say anything because I’ve spent so long that someone else said it or the moment has passed. One of the reasons I am sympathetic to those uncomfortable with speaking in large groups.)

  18. Formerly Bee*

    I’m, I guess, an ambivert and really like working with anyone. Communication skills matter more than the differences between extraverts and introverts.

  19. AnonEMoose*

    For introverted me, what helped the most was finding the right job. In my current job, occasional work from home days are fine, which is great if I’m feeling a little overwhelmed or have a project with a need to concentrate. Because at home, the biggest interruption is when one of the cats decides “Must. Have. Pets. NOW.”

    Even when I’m in the office, most of my interaction with customers is via email, and I don’t have a ton of meetings or a need to spend a lot of time talking with coworkers. Although generally my interactions with coworkers are pleasant, and we can work through problems together when we need to. So it works well for me, but would probably drive someone who needs more interaction up the wall. And I can wear headphones as much as I want to, so the coworkers near me who are on the phone a lot aren’t a huge distraction.

  20. Clever Name*

    Introvert here. The owner of my company is an introvert, and I am so thankful that we have offices (shared) rather than a cube farm. When the noise level is too loud for me to concentrate, I just close the door. *heaven* I have one coworker who sometimes needs to talk through a problem to come to a solution, and I am happy to help out because I know it helps her, and she helps me when I need it. Heck, sometimes I even need to bounce ideas off a coworker to figure out an answer. At first I didn’t realize that she needed to talk stuff out, so I would think “does this task really take 2 people to accomplish?”, and yes, sometimes it does. In contrast, I process things internally and when a problem is really complex, I have to let it marinate in the back of my mind for a day or two, so it’s been good for me to realize that some people process things externally.

  21. ism*

    Introvert here.

    On a daily basis I’m distracted and annoyed by noisy co-workers (not sure if it’s fair to assume they’re all extroverts). We have a big open reception area in the main office with half-walls, and then several senior management offices border along the walls of the open area. It doesn’t help that my desk is right outside the conference room door. I pretty much hear everything, regardless of closed doors.

    My annoyance is usually manageable and I can tune them out most of the time. Sometimes I’m so good at tuning it out that I don’t realize someone is speaking to me unless they physically approach my desk. (People around here have a habit of shouting to each other across the room/down the hall instead of getting out of their chairs to come speak to each other in their “inside voice.”)

    But sometimes it really gets to me and I have to go take a walk or do something that isn’t work, but looks like work, because I can’t concentrate. I do data entry and have a bad habit of typing what I hear whether I mean to or not, so mistakes happen.

    I’m pretty sure people think of me as chilly and aloof. The men around here are constantly telling me to smile, to relax, etc. My manager herself said that I seem unapproachable and that I need to work on it. I have worked on it, and I’m on a first-name small-talk basis with all the people I work with every day. But I’m not really into small talk in general and I hate the idea of faking bubbly, friendly, smiley “approachability.” I treat everyone with respect and kindness and now my manager (and others I work closely with) hopefully realize I’m perfectly approachable and happy to help out if someone comes up to my desk or pages me. There is a massive age difference between me and all the managers I work with, though, and small talk is difficult for that reason among others. I don’t really want to hear about grandchildren and I don’t really want to answer questions about my childbearing or marital status either. People around here just aren’t sure what else to chat with me about, I guess, and I’d rather they didn’t feel the need. I don’t.

    1. Nerdling*

      Am I the only one who wants to develop the most terrifying expression in response to anyone telling me to smile? Because I hate that, and I want people to stop doing it. :P

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Apparently, the expression I have on normally is terrifying enough. That’s why people tell me to smile.

        I hate it, too. My teenage son gets it all. the. time. He also hates it, but at least it’s somewhat justified since he’s a cashier at a fast food restaurant. In a previous position as an analyst, a coworker would stick his head in my office and tell me to smile and that I looked too intense staring at my monitor. No shit? I’m doing my job, which involves intensely reviewing this data, you jackass. It does not involve looking pretty. (Glad that guy doesn’t work here now.)

        1. ism*

          Sigh @ resting bitchface. It’s been a struggle all my life and contributes to my “unapproachability.” Wish I could use your words on people around here.

          1. Iro*

            Ohmygosh yes.

            I have actually trained myself to hold my eyebrows up higher than I would like to rest them when speaking to co-workers in the office!

            Also I have definitely gotten the “you look too intense/angry” comment when I’m looking at my monitor programming away or trying to think of a creative solution to a complex problem. It’s intense work – that’s why I like it!

          2. Melissa*

            LOL I have resting bitchface too, and I have to consciously remind myself to relax the muscles of my face because I get the “smile!” comments all. The. Time. It is so annoying. I think I get them more because I’m a petite young-looking woman, too, so I sometimes get sleazy/creepy guys leering at me telling me to “cheer up” and that it can’t be so bad.

            I’m always tempted to say something really sad (“actually, it is really bad…I just found out I have dihydrogen monoxide poisoning.”). I mean…you don’t know anything about my life. Maybe a relative just died, or maybe I lost something really valuable, or maybe I’m in legal trouble or just got diagnosed with a terminal illness…like, mind your own beeswax, right?

        2. madge*

          “No shit? I’m doing my job, which involves intensely reviewing this data, you jackass. It does not involve looking pretty.”

          I just wanted you to know that I love you for this. It’s now my dream response…

      2. PuppyPetter*

        There are days when I’m told to “smile” that I want to look at the person and tell them that I have a terrible disorder that makes it impossible for me to smile on demand and now I am going to have a meltdown becasue they have reminded me of this tragedy and trauma.

      3. Samantha*

        I HATE this. I am generally a smiley person, to the point that people have commented on it, but if I’m particularly stressed or just not in a great mood, I’m not going to walk around with a fake smile plastered on my face. Interestingly, I have never been told to smile by a woman – it’s always a man.

    2. TheLazyB*

      Aaaargh the sexism in all that makes me want to scream. I bet they wouldn’t tell a man in your job to smile and be more approachable. Sympathy :(

      1. ism*

        Certainly not. It’s interesting to observe at my workplace, though: The men in question never say “smile!” to the women I perceive to be extroverts, but they do say it to other women I perceive as introverted like myself. Also of note is they don’t say it to the older women; just the younger ones like myself.

        1. V. Meadowsweet*

          are you ever tempted to just say ‘sure! let me just schedule that in…how’s Tuesday at 11:42 am?’

        2. I'm a Little Teapot*

          If I were in your position, I’d probably point out their sexist behavior, calmly and politely. I’m not sure if it’s safe for you to do so, though.

          The frequent questions about your childbearing and marital status are especially inappropriate.

  22. Ambivert*

    Maybe it’s because I don’t fall too heavily on either side as an introvert/extrovert (I’m either an ENTJ or INTJ, depending on my mood when I take the test), but I’m starting to feel tired of the entire “introvert vs. extrovert” discussion I’ve been seeing here and on other websites. It seems like these terms are being used as excuses to me.

  23. Golden Yeti*

    I think a lot of it, as Alison said in the article, comes down to giving people space to work and interact how they feel most comfortable. I think middle ground can be found, but if at all possible, neither should presume upon the other. For instance, if I’m sharing office space with a group, I may not talk much at first, but as I feel more comfortable, I speak up more. On the other hand, if there’s someone constantly approaching me, trying to coerce small talk out of me, etc., my natural inclination will be to withdraw. I’m kind of like a turtle: if I feel safe, I’ll stick my head out more, but if you come at me fast and furious, I will retreat as much as possible.

  24. Kirsten*

    I’m a shy socially anxious introvert. I only work with about 10 others, but still I barely talk. I work with my coworkers fine, but do wonder if they assume I’m bitchy because of my “coldness”. It’s my boss who had issues. He actually came to me thinking I hate him, and telling me I need to talk more, which seemed ridiculous. I just nodded and didn’t change, he’s gotten used to it. I don’t think one should be criticized at their job on how talkative or social they are. I do feel irritated when the office gets noisy but that’s a personal issue.

  25. JAL*

    I’m lucky, because my boss is also an introvert and I think she realizes I’m an introvert. She isn’t overly abrasive when she gives feedback and she’s soft spoken. I am glad for that, because I have heard of other introverts breaking down in front of their boss because of their criticism. I’d fear that as I am a highly sensitive person and criticism goes right to my heart.

      1. JAL*

        For me I know it is. I die a little inside when people are non-empathetic. I’m an INFP…it’s highly characteristic for us. We do not do well with people telling us what to do and demanding us. We need it to be gentle.

        1. Melissa*

          That may have less to do with your introversion and more to do with the feeling…or it could just be your personality. I used to be really, really sensitive to criticism before I trained myself out of it, and now I’m still sensitive but I have just found ways to cope with it/de-emotionalize the criticism. And I’m an ENTJ.

  26. TheLazyB*

    I am an extrovert, but work better in peace. I’ve just discovered I can use the local university library’s silent study area for my distance learning course. It is the most awesome thing ever. I CAN CONCENTRATE!

    People are weird. In a nice way.

  27. Tara*

    It’s interesting because I’m one of the most extroverted people I know– but at my last job I was labelled as “the quiet, introverted one”. Little did they know I just wasn’t overly fond of them, and was constantly exhausted and stressed out. The one girl I got along with quite well stared at them all quizically whenever they said I “never talked”, because she could never get me to shut up! I also find that things change dramatically for me depending on the type of work. Anything that involves coming up with ideas, I’m completely stumped if left without someone to talk it out with… but data input? Math calculations? Earbuds in, head down. Although I do wonder if my preference for loud, obnoxious pop-punk music with lots of lyrics while working is an extrovert thing, as I’ve had several introvert friends glance at my playlist and tell me they don’t know how I get anything done.

    As an ENFP, we’re supposed to be the “introverted extroverts”… i.e. the ones who need the most alone time out of all the Es. I think it’s a function thing: my primary is Ne, extroverted intuition (I get my ideas by talking them out, typically very enthusiastically, and that’s how I stay productive) but my secondary is Fi, introverted feeling (I work out my feelings internally rather than externally)– so during stressful times I tend to withdraw more than other extroverts would.

    I feel like a lot of people don’t really get the E/I thing, so this is how I explain it. If you went out and did an activity that you really enjoy, with people who you genuinely like, for the perfect amount of time… when you came home, would you be content, but tired, ready for a cup of tea and a nap? Or would you be full of energy and ideas and excitement? I’m firmly the latter, whereas all my friends are the former.

  28. Sociable Introvert*

    I like people but I’m an introvert. In the Big Five personality traits I’m an introvert but agreeable (most of the time!) and open. People often don’t realize I’m an introvert until I tell them.

    One thing I absolutely can’t abide at work is people who talk to themselves while they work, which is supposedly a trait of extroverts. They usually don’t *have* to verbalize every little thing they do, because once you tell them it’s aggravating (in a nice, agreeable way of course) they can usually zip it. I have one coworker who can’t seem to stop it though. I have just started ignoring her. I feel badly doing it but if she wants my attention she can use my name. Otherwise I have to assume she’s talking to nobody. Fortunately I don’t have to spend a lot of time in her orbit. I used to think she was a drama queen and announcing to everyone how hard she was working but now I think she really can’t help it.

    1. Tara*

      I definitely do this (extrovert). And I genuinely don’t realize I am until someone points it out. Usually once it’s been mentioned I’m aware enough to stop, but there have definitely been days when I was frazzled enough that I slipped up. For me, at least, it’s basically unconscious.

    2. JAL*

      I’m introverted and I talk to myself while I work. It’s habitual because I have a learning disability and I don’t process as well if I don’t hear it out loud.

      1. JAL*

        Oh, I usually don’t at work in the office because I’m too shy to actually talk out loud. But when I’m at home, I don’t shut up.

    3. ReanaZ*

      I’m an introvert, and I talk to myself while working. I try to keep it to a minimum because I share an office (and have tried to train myself to just mouth things or mutter very quietly under my breath), but particularly when doing complicated tech stuff, I pretty much have to say it aloud to make sure I am doing it correctly.

      I don’t think this is explicitly an extrovert/introvert thing, but is rather a brain-processing thing.

  29. SheBeSmallButFierce*

    I’m a sociable introvert, and got some insights after reading a book a few years ago, called, “The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World”. For the longest time, I thought “introvert” meant “shy, retiring”. This book explains that introvert/extrovert has to do with how we “recharge”. I like socializing, but I find it very draining; similarly in work situations where I have to be “on” for most of the day. So, I make sure that I have some “quiet time” to recharge. Extroverts “recharge” by being around a lot of people or exciting activity.

    I believe it IS an “Extrovert World”, and the rest of us – Introverts, INFJ, HSP and others – figure out ways to adapt (especially if we want to move ahead in the business world). Ironically, however, I think I read somewhere that introverts are perceived as being more thoughtful & intelligent people. I think everyone can get along in a workplace if there’s respect and just plain old common courtesy.

  30. Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands*

    Count me among those introverts (I can be a situational extravert, but not all the time) who are so drained by the office in my new job (open plan office, nonstop meetings, and I’m older than everyone there so I’m an outlier anyway) that I just want to crawl home and hide under the covers. Having a social life seems out of the question. We work 50-hour weeks and I have a long commute on the bus both ways. I’m exhausted after a month in this job, and it’s full of surprises that leave me wondering why on earth they hired me and how I’ll survive it. But also terrified that I might lose it for not fitting in.

  31. TL17*

    My office was hiring a year or so ago, and we got applications from a lot of good candidates. One who interviewed told us that she left a particular field because she knows she is an introvert, and she found her work style and strengths were more geared toward something different. My colleague (an extrovert) immediately shot her down and said, “for heavens sake! Why would you EVER say you’re an introvert in an interview?!” ( this is afterward the interview, not while the candidate was there ) As a fellow introvert I tried to explain what the candidate meant. This led to colleague simply shouting – almost to the point of screaming – over me that introversion is wrong and not desired in any part of our field.

    We ended up hiring a person who is clearly an extrovert. He’s a nice person and very friendly, but he’s not that good at the job.

  32. Vicki*

    “Introverts: How often are you annoyed by too much noise and talking from extroverts at work?”

    Every. Single. Day. That I have to be in the office.

  33. IamAnonymous*

    I just finished a contract in a team of introverts. I am very extroverted (probably ENFP type) and like discussions, team meetings, exchanges of ideas and creative energy around the office, which I’m sure annoys introverts. Also I find occasional social life after work to be beneficial. Working in a team of people who spend nearly all day quietly at their computers and with management that you hardly see or interact with almost drove me nuts. And that was just in a very short contract. It is hard

  34. K*

    From a complete, 1000% introvert (INTJ with a 0% score for extraversion on my Big 5), A major part of my problem in the workplace is ‘well meaning’ people who think I actually have a desire to be sociable beyond the necessary interaction for work. Extraverts, the fact that I don’t take lunch with the group or chitchat about my weekend and have no interest in gathering with you socially outside of work is not personal. I don’t have a ‘problem’ with you (although if you continue trying to ‘help’ me I will get annoyed), I have exactly the social life I want at work: NONE. Being around people is stressful and over stimulating. Each day at work is grit-my-teeth-and-live-through-it. I do not have the additional emotional energy for the social dance. If you need to talk to me about something work-related, I will help honestly and best I can, buy I will not seek to prolong the encounter.

  35. Lost at Sea*

    My extreme extrovert manager told me I need to be more perky when I asked what I could do to improve. She said I will be fired at the end of my probation if I don’t. I have actually handled much of the training up until now.

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