How to succeed as an introvert without acting like an extrovert

The research is clear: Making extra small talk or raising hands for networking opportunities can help introverts find more energy, better social connections, and higher levels of happiness.

But unless you’re an outgoing extrovert, you can’t pretend to be one forever. Over time, this leaves you feeling drained and unable to engage in the workplace interactions that several studies have found help you feel part of the team.

Without careful recovery, you become “unable to hold on [your] energy levels up,” said Mary Shapiro, an adjunct professor at Simmons University School of Business, which teaches introversion and leadership.

That could mean missing out on everything from friendships to networking to career opportunities. It’s a tricky line to walk, reaping the short-term benefits without overdoing it and burning yourself out.

Here’s how to find the right balance, experts say.

Everyone falls somewhere on a spectrum between introversion and extroversion, says Evy Kuijpers, a postdoc who studied introversion at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

Extroverts may feel recharged and revitalized after some small talk, while introverts are ready to lay down, even though they’ve enjoyed those conversations just as much. Of course, not all stereotypically extroverted action sucks introverts dry: some might love boisterous happy hours or impromptu brainstorming sessions.

It all comes down to what exhausts or energizes you. “Acting extroverted” could mean reaching out to others more often, even though you know you usually find this interaction tiresome.

A simple calculation can help you determine when to head out and when to back off, Shapiro says.

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If it helps you be more open-minded To achieve a specific goal, e.g. B. being added to a new project at work, you can play the role. If you’re not, and you’re simply doing it to keep up with your peers, it’s okay to take a step back.

Healthy workplaces value everyone, notes Shapiro — and if you’re constantly changing, there’s probably a time limit on how long you can hold out. So, on any given day, take stock of how your “introverted” or “extroverted” actions made you feel.

Maybe a few minutes of water cooler talk really lifted your spirits, or a group meeting got you ready to contribute more. But whenever you feel like extroverted behavior is draining you, find some time to take a break.

Shapiro recommends bestselling author Susan Cain’s advice: find “relaxing niches,” or places to recharge after you’ve used up all your social energy. Maybe it’s a contemplative drive home or a nightly diary writing. Find what works for you and make yourself comfortable retreating there whenever you need it.

Over time, strategy is one of your best defenses against energy loss, says Kuijpers. Just don’t wait until you’re already feeling exhausted to “cure,” she adds: Make a plan in advance of when you’ll make an effort to be more extroverted, and how you’ll recover afterward.

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