Functioning as an Introvert in an Extrovert World!

Most people who know me only from workplace or social situations are surprised to learn that I am an introvert.  I am never afraid to chime in with an opinion, lead a discussion or run a meeting.  I dislike small talk but I am not afraid to open up conversations with strangers or make them feel comfortable.  I have been given feedback that I come across as cheerful and enthusiastic.

However, this all comes at a cost to me.  I am a high functioning introvert in these situations, but it requires me to be outside of my comfort zone.  After a full day of this, I find myself exhausted.  Just speaking at length makes me so tired.

I have learned to find ways to cope with this.  We can't really change who we are or how we are wired, but we can find ways to adapt to the pressures of our environments.  Being aware of our needs makes it easier to strategize ways to function while not causing too much suffering to ourselves (sometimes a small amount of suffering is unavoidable!).

This week was a perfect example for me.  I have had nearly 20 meetings scheduled this week, and a chunk of those meetings are ones where I am the facilitator.  I knew as I was scheduling my week that this was going to be hard on me.  So the strategy I chose this week was to fill Monday with meetings, especially in the morning hours, and then aim to go home a bit early and catch up on some solo projects in the solitude of my empty house through the late afternoon.  I ended the day exhausted, but knowing that the worst part of my week was over.  I let Friday be the lightest day, as that way I am not going into my weekend fatigued from feeling overly socialized - if I do that, I will be especially reclusive over the weekend.

Another strategy I regularly use, especially when planning one-on-ones with my employees or other meetings where my focus is especially important is to mindfully schedule them during times of the day when I am best equipped to be energetic and focused on them.  For me, this is during the morning.  I find that I am at my sharpest and most likely to be able to socialize well before ten o'clock in the morning.  I find this also benefits my employees.  If the conversation is positive, it sets them up for a happy day.  If it's a little bit difficult, it gives us time to work through it without them leaving for the day feeling defeated.  I like to have the time for them to recover from that and end the day on a successful note.

When I come home at the end of the day, I try to allow myself about an hour where I am alone.  I get my workout in, check in with my dogs, take some time for silence.  Building recovery time into my day is always important.  That often involves a workout, where I can focus entirely on myself in silence.

A few weeks ago I had a week-long kaizen event with long days where I was socializing non-stop.  I got to leave early on Friday after the event ended.  I didn't feel tired, but I ended up taking a three hour nap (and I am not a napper!).  However, doing so refreshed me completely and I was able to go on to my weekend fully recovered.

The world is noisy, distracting, and exhausting for me.  Being self aware enough to plan ahead for my needs has made me a little bit more resilient, and not only that, but more effective in dealing with the people who depend on me.


  1. It's clear you're very efficient at work and your personal life. You know how to arrange things in your life so that it doesn't defeat you when you're doing this outside your comfort zone. You're an inspiration to all introverts!


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