Gini Dietrich

Introverts in Business

By: Gini Dietrich | March 30, 2010 | 
51

Introverts in BusinessI’m an introvert. Go ahead. Debate me on it. Most don’t believe me. But it’s true. When I was a kid, my mom used to make me call to order pizza because I was so terrified of the phone (for those of you who call me, you’ll understand I’m still terrified). I was not popular in high school because I was so painfully shy I couldn’t talk to people (though most just thought I was stuck-up). And then Gary Kisner, the general manager for the Kansas City Fleishman-Hillard office (where I worked after I graduated), provided me with some great life lessons…and worked with me daily to pull me out of my shell.

I tell you all of this not so you’ll walk away from reading this in disbelief, but because there is an important lesson in how all of us operate, and manage, on a day-to-day basis. Yes, I’m an introvert with super high social skills, but an introvert, none-the-less.

So what does that mean? It means that I can go and go and go, but when I’ve run out of adrenaline, I’ve run out and I have to go into my cave (as my good friend Justin Brackett calls it).  Usually I can make it five days and then use Saturdays as my cave time so no one is affected. But sometimes my travel schedule doesn’t allow that and I have to use reserves to get through the work ahead. And, if that happens, my networks of people are affected. Most people assume I’m mad at them and, a lot of the time, some are really disappointed that I didn’t live up to the expectations I’ve set early on in our relationship.

Extroverts, by their nature, get their energy from having other people around. Introverts get their energy from cave time. So, because I have high social skills, most people assume I get my energy from having people around. Not true. It drains me…no matter how much I like my friends, colleagues, and family. It drives my husband (who is a crazy extrovert) insane.

But what does this mean for the people you work with?  Are you an introvert or an extrovert? How do you deal with the opposite personalities at work every day?

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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51 Comments on "Introverts in Business"

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Doug Davidoff
6 years 5 months ago
As a fellow introvert (who most people think is an extrovert) I completely get what you are saying. There are times, no matter how much I care or want to reach out, that I just can’t. It’s like that muscle has been completely exhausted and it can’t lift anymore. What’s interesting (and not to take anything away from extroverts) is how often highly successful public people are actually quite introverted. I coach salespeople all the time and one of my favorite sayings is, “I’d rather have an interested introvert than an interesting extrovert.” Just as we introverts have learned from… Read more »
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6 years 5 months ago

Social comments and analytics for this post…

This post was mentioned on Twitter by ginidietrich: What being an introvert in business means to company growth http://su.pr/1bNF4I

Les McKeown
6 years 5 months ago
I like to think I’m “wonderfully self-contained”. My friends tell me I have borderline Asperger’s (though it isn’t really funny, I think they’re joking). I don’t own a car, and live the life of a semi-recluse in the small town I live in – which is located, unsurprisingly, at the end of a peninsula and is backed up against the ocean. Yet my calling is to train, teach, counsel and facilitate others – and the result is exactly as you describe it. I have a 3-day exhaustion horizon – I envy your 5 days -and every night is a battery… Read more »
Rob S
6 years 5 months ago
Same situation here. Introvert with high social skills. I remember a corporate leadership exercise where people took a personality test, then lined up according to where they ranked (from introverted to extroverted). I was second from the end on the introversion side. Everyone else in the room challenged where I was. I am an introvert who has learned that to be successful, I must master the social skills. I act! I’ve found that I’ll organize the social events with friends, because it limits my interaction with other people. I’m there, engaged, but it’s not draining. I’ve become a great cook… Read more »
Gwyn Teatro
6 years 5 months ago
You go into the cave and I go into the closet so I know exactly what you are talking about. In my past working life I spent a lot of time facilitating meetings and workshops. Usually after a three to five day stretch of being “front and centre” I needed two days “in the closet” to recover. And like you, it was hard for some people to believe that I could be an introvert. But there it is. I think there is a popular misconception that introversion is about being bashful and reticent when, as you point out, it is… Read more »
Jon Aston
6 years 5 months ago

Total introvert here, too, with OK social skills.

If you have the time and inclination, I would love to read more about your time spent with Gary Kisner.

XOJA

Lisa Foote
6 years 5 months ago

Thank you so much for this post! I relate to all the comments, too. (Like Rob, I retreat into the kitchen!)
We well-adapted introverts need a commonly-understood/accepted shorthand for our style. It gets irritating to keep hearing “You – an Introvert? No way!” without a way to explain it.
Happily, people are becoming more sensitive – MBTI’s popularity has helped many understand motivation, style and where-you-get-energy a lot better.

Lorri Wyndham
6 years 5 months ago

I have never heard it described as “Introvert with high social skills” that is so completely RIGHT! – It explains why I am exhausted after being out at a public venue.

Have you found that this has had any sort of effect on your self confidence? I think it greatly effects mine to the negative.

Mike Koehler
Mike Koehler
6 years 5 months ago
I am totally cracking up at the HS comment. (I’ll save stories of then for your hubby next time I make it to Chicago) Yeah, the way you put it I would agree that you are an introvert. I always picture extroverts more as social butterflies of which you certainly were not way back when, at least not that I remember. Then again, I was too busy being a giant pest and trying and failing to avoid your wrath. I’m an introvert. Happy with the peace of very few if any people around and music in the background. It’s how… Read more »
Jeff Schwartz
6 years 5 months ago
Such a great post, on all levels: What’s your preferred style, do you know, what are your communication needs, the needs of your colleague’s, friends and loved ones, how does your style complement a team? We are all “flavors-styles,” and all flavors are gifts. At work. At home. With children. Can you imagine a high-performing team where everyone is the same? Me neither. Awareness of your “probable,” daily style – including under stress or deadlines – really helps. Just as it does to know your talents. I just presented about this to an international conference of engineers. Most of them… Read more »
Starr McCaffery
6 years 5 months ago

Love this Gini! It’s the real reason why my office is in the basement while my extrovert husband’s is right up at the front of the house. I need my cave time!

Jeff Lipschultz
6 years 5 months ago
Sometimes I think I’m an introvert in an extrovert’s body. You put me with a bunch of people I’m comfortable with, I can go and go and go, like the Engergizer bunny. But if I have to work at meeting new people and making novel conversation for several days in a row, I lose steam. So I can understand all sides of the equation. To answer your question, Gini, the key to working well with colleagues on the other side of the fence is no different from dealing with other personality traits (detail-oriented versus big picture or data-seeking versus emotion).… Read more »
Nick Shin
6 years 5 months ago

I’m very similar to you in that I’m an introvert at heart, but I have high social skills. I love what you said here about the adrenaline and the “cave” – “when I’ve run out of adrenaline, I’ve run out and I have to go into my cave”. Familiarity, too, has a lot to do with how socially capable I am. When I go out with one or group of extroverts, I naturally adapt and I’ve found this to be the most effective way of breaking out of the shell.

Loved the post.

Nick
http://www.twitter.com/shinng

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[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Gini Dietrich, Gwyn Teatro, Jeff Schwartz, Jamie Sandford, Harry Brumleve and others. Harry Brumleve said: My fave, too! RT @pattiknight: Introverts in busines by my favorite introvert http://su.pr/1bNF4I […]

Davina K. Brewer
6 years 5 months ago

I’m an introvert, naturally shy and I’ll admit to not always being a “needs people” person. I’m comfortable eating out by myself, relish my quiet, alone time and am fine working autonomously. It’s one of the things that makes me effective as a Solo PR– and yet there are times I miss the camaraderie and teamwork of coworkers. That typed, once I get to know you, and am comfortable with you knowing me, you’ll discover a whole different side of me. FWIW.

Nick Shin
6 years 5 months ago

Just had to mention this, but the moment I tweeted this link and a note about my comment, I had a couple people telling me they had no idea I was an introvert. Acting and disguising is a skill that everyone needs to have.

Nick
http://www.twitter.com/shinng

Charlotte Sherman
Charlotte Sherman
6 years 5 months ago

As an extrovert one of the biggest differences I have noticed is that introverts ABHOR small talk, they are drawn to conversations on subjects that interest them and that are important to them.

I want an introvert on my team! Give the MBTI, to potential employees or even to current staff, the results can give you a huge heads up into their strengths.

Thanks,
Char

Danielle
Danielle
6 years 5 months ago
Gini, I read your blog avidly, but this is the first time I have been moved to comment. When I was in PR, we took Myers-Briggs tests about once a year or so, and I was always one of the only introverts in the room (and yes, everyone was always surprised that I am an introvert). I describe myself as a “relationship-oriented introvert,” but I can completely relate to that feeling of exhaustion after being out around people for several days in a row. It’s amazing to read all the comments on this page from people describing what I have… Read more »
Ces
6 years 5 months ago

Great subject! I’m a huge fan of personalities and how the interaction works in the workplace and beyond. And, while I too am an introvert, my strength is relationships. I’ve worked on intentionally putting myself in situations that has forced me to develop the skills necessary to survive in an extrovert’s world!

Laura Scholz
6 years 5 months ago
Gini, you are my twin! I used to HATE calling people and selling things. My mom is a total natural extrovert–she could not understand my aversion to the phone (which I still have–totally guilty of screening everything). Social media is the perfect invention for us introverts disguised as extroverts. We get to be social behind the computer screen. I’ve found what helps me is a mid-week respite. On Wednesdays, I take no calls and no meetings. Just hang out at my house and work, then recharge with close friends over margaritas and cheese dip. It gives me the energy I… Read more »
Carmen Krushas
6 years 5 months ago

I think most CEOs are closet introverts. We worked our way to this position, because self-reflection was our best friend, and though we appreciate the wisdom of our teams, we tend to lean heavy on our own wisdom at the end of the day. It can be quite loud in our internal debates, which may lend more reason to us seeking solace over the comforts of others.

Clayton Thornton
6 years 5 months ago

I used to be a huge introvert, but I find myself more extroverted now. I still lean toward the introverted side of things, and people notice the fact that I am quiet. However, leadership positions and working at a summer camp (with Justin Brackett) has brought me out of my shell entirely.

Brad Farris
6 years 5 months ago

Gini:

Have you seen “The Introvert’s Advantage” [http://www.amazon.com/Introvert-Advantage-Thrive-Extrovert-World/dp/0761123695]? I haven’t read it but my introvert friends say it’s great!

Brad

Joe Heidler
6 years 5 months ago

I believe this is one of the reasons that social media is so great. It allows some of us introverts to socialize on our own level, whatever that may be. I know that it has allowed me to meet some great new friends and when I feel daring, like this morning, I can even go out to a tweetup and meet them IRL.
Thank You

Jaimie Field
6 years 5 months ago

Is this why you never call back 🙂

Scott Hepburn
6 years 5 months ago

So THIS is why you’re so hard to get on the phone! 😉

I think blogging, Twitter, and the entire notion of inbound marketing were invented by introverts. Think about it: Who else would dream up the idea that you could just crank out valuable content ant attract customers to you, instead of calling them?

We (I’m an introvert, too) need every tool, trick and third-party out there to pull us out of our shells. The good news: Practice makes perfect.

Sally G.
6 years 5 months ago
I, too, always thought Introverts were shy, withdrawn, etc. ~ and so never considered myself to be one as I have a presence power and energy that lifts and supports people I’m with and I love sharing that … in small doses. For more than 40 years, I considered myself ‘weird’ and ‘awkward’ as I could be with people for periods of time ~ and then, I’d feel depleted, agitated and desperate to let my Inner Hermit rule and withdraw from the world to balance myself again. I’m learning that, with many areas of life where we feel disconnect or… Read more »
Rob
6 years 5 months ago

It’s possible I’m a little of both actually (which is annoying). I thrive in social situations depending on quite a few factors such as who, where, what when and how the situation takes place.

I certainly understand your perspective (my wife is an introvert) and I think it’s just one of those things you have to adapt to.

Lon
Lon
6 years 5 months ago

One of my favorite TV shows is “Inside the Actor’s Studio” on Bravo. Watching the show I have learned that many actors are introverts as well, which sort of astounded me. I came to the conclustion that introverts are self-directed and that is the key component of their success. Self-directed people learn to establish goals and are not happy until they exceed those goals, whereupon they set some new goals. Extroverts let others define them. Introverts define themselves and learn enough extrovert skills to reach their goals.

Jake LaCaze
6 years 5 months ago

I can relate. However, I call myself a social introvert because I feel it doesn’t make you sound as if you hate people. It took a while, but I learned to be more social and I feel that anyone can do it.

Mark Jacobsen
6 years 5 months ago

I can totally relate. Funny how many times I’ve come across as the social one in my relationship, but at the end of the day I would like nothing more than to sit in a small silent room with a book, while my wife wants to be on the phone, FB, email, etc. I guess I do have some of the “stereotypical” programmer in me after all.

Ann Dwyer
6 years 5 months ago

Thank you for this. I see myself in this post — it’s nice to know I’m not alone!

Love your blog … keep it coming!

Brian Meeks
6 years 5 months ago
Gini, Wonderful post, I especially liked the opening lines. I consider myself an extrovert. I like to mingle, meet people, crowds get me excited. That being said, I just moved to a town of 280 from the DC area, which is slightly larger. I work from home, often go two, three or even four days without leaving or seeing anyone face to face. I guess it is my cave. I am finding that I am just as happy alone as I am in a crowd. I find that solitude has a different type of reward. I have taken up woodworking,… Read more »
Andy Donovan
6 years 5 months ago

Isn’t it funny how many of us “introverts with high social skills” are out here…I think that it works as an asset since we spent most of our developing years watching and learning. Not to say that extroverts have anything to be ashamed of – just that as an introvert you fight this constant battle of needing to be out there and interacting when as you point out having a little “cave-time” is needed to recharge the batteries. Once again – another great post from a great introvert in business. Andy

Rose Elliot
6 years 5 months ago

Being an introvert I luv Twitter and social networking as I find going out exhausting and enjoy getting to know someone before meeting them IRL 🙂

Claudine Motto
6 years 5 months ago

Gini,

Total introvert here…and like for most of you, everyone’s always surprised to hear it.

Feels GREAT to be in a “room” full of people who UNDERSTAND!

I was just reading about this the other day on Psychology Today – it cleared up for me that there’s a difference between being an introvert, and being shy:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-introverts-corner/200910/introversion-vs-shyness-the-discussion-continues.

When I run into articles like this I can’t wait to show them to my husband! He is an extrovert, and although he accepts me 100% the way I am, I suspect sometimes he thinks that I secretly want to be more extroverted (I don’t).

Claudine

Teresa Peek
Teresa Peek
6 years 5 months ago
Gini, thank you for bearing your soul to the world to comfort others who are similarly challenged. I am SO happy to see this topic beginning to come out in the open more! I say that because, in business, I think there’s a fear of admitting such a “weakness”, as some have called it in my case. While I am not a shy person, I am smack in the median area of introvert and extrovert. Those who know me, both personally and professionally, think I’m lying when I say I’m afraid to meet new people. It’s not meeting new people… Read more »
Ed Brenegar
6 years 5 months ago
The other aspects of the MBTI have an effect upon your Introversion. As an Extrovert, who is also a J (Judging), my extroversion needs to be with people who want to do more than hang out. Not doing things that lead to a conclusion drains me of energy. So, I’m energized by being with people, and drained by being people who just want to hang around and not accomplish something. We are all more than simply introverted or extroverted.Those other aspects of our lives have a big effect upon who we are in our lives and work. Thanks for sharing… Read more »
Julia Stewart
Julia Stewart
6 years 5 months ago

Thank you for giving me a name! “introvert with high social skills.” I love crowds, meetings and the great stories I always seem to get from total strangers, but wow, do I need my cave time. Loved the post, so glad to know that I’m not alone. Wait, don’t introverts want to be alone?

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[…] Dietrich of Arment Dietrich, Inc., thought it was funny – She’d just written a blog post on how Introverts make better listeners, and invited Ms. Phule to read it. That was nice of […]

Agatha Kubalski
Agatha Kubalski
6 years 5 months ago

Great post! I, too, am often dread picking up the phone and hate forced networking situations (although I’m consciously working on getting better at interacting with people at these). My friends agree that I can be socially awkward, yet I’m the only one in my circle of friends that is active in social media. It truly is the perfect crutch for introverts!

April Phules
April Phules
6 years 5 months ago

Got the link from HARO.

You’ve been shankman’ed!

Great Blog Post!

Dave M
Dave M
6 years 5 months ago
I can RELATE. What I find with my Introvert, is that I can hide behind facts, I speak when I know the facts, if I don’t know the facts I don’t speak.. because if I am rejected, it was me that got rejected, but if I speak facts, then they can not be rejected, and if they are, then great it pulls me into a much needed back and forth conversation, with no personal recourse. The outcome? I do not open up personally much in the office, so very few know the real me, but I gain the respect and… Read more »
Katya Belenkova
Katya Belenkova
6 years 5 months ago

Such a great post, Gini! This describes me so well. I’ve been in the ad agency business (highly social environment), for 10 years now, and after especially busy, intense days, need a lot of “cave” time. What’s interesting, is that from the comments, most introverts are married to extroverts. Hmmmmm…. I married an UBER introvert, who actually says stuff like “I hate people” in the comic (only when he talks about his professional life and he means it in the best possible way, of course)…

velda
velda
6 years 5 months ago
OMG! You have said exactly the way I’ve lived my entire life. I have always put myself in jobs where I have to be around people so I’ve learned the “how” in my life but you are so right. I have to retreat to refuel. It is absolutely exhausting. Want to know what my job is now? I’m a real estate broker. I HATE prospecting. Once I meet someone and spend a little time with them I’m OK but I still find it exhausting. I really don’t have anyone in the family who understands either so it isn’t like I… Read more »
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[…] okay to be an introvert. Some of my favorite business leaders are introverts. But good news: You can learn to be […]

ibrowej
ibrowej
5 years 3 months ago

Being an introvert myself, I could really relate to your article. Naturally also, I would prefer to go to the dentist rather than have to interact in a room full of strange people.It’s not that I’m afraid, I just have my mind made up to be uncomfortable. I believe this type of hang-up requires a lot of practice in creating positive networking experiences. I did find some free informational tools that could be of help to your readers. I got some fresh insight from Paul Aaron Travis at: http://relationshipcapital.co/op/?utm_src=bl

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[…] discovered this post on Spin Sucks about a particular person many of you know who claims to be an introvert. It looks […]

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