Introverts@work – 8 Defining Behaviors

By Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, Ph.D.

Introverts may be less noisy at work, but by all accounts they outnumber extroverts. Even many high-powered executives-a full 40 percent-describe themselves as introverts, including Microsoft’s Bill Gates and uber-investor Warren Buffett. But what  is introversion, anyway? Introversion is a key part of personality, yet resists a neat definition. In the C-suite and beyond, says Kahnweiler, introversion is best defined by eight characteristic behaviors.

  • Energized by solitude
    Introverts need and want to spend time alone. They often suffer from people exhaustion and must retreat to recharge their batteries. At work, they prefer quiet, private spaces and like to handle projects on their own or with a small group.
  • Think first, talk later
    Introverts think before they speak. Even in casual watercooler chats, they consider others’ comments carefully and pause and reflect before responding. They dislike interruptions, especially when they are thinking things through.
  • Process internally
    Introverts have an interior pull-they are drawn to understanding the world around them before fully experiencing it. On and off the job, they tend to process their thoughts and feelings in their heads, and they share them cautiously and carefully when they do speak.
  • Focus on depth
    Introverts seek depth over breadth. They like to dig deep-delving into issues and ideas before moving on to new ones. They are drawn to meaningful conversations-not superficial chit-chat-and know how to tune in and listen to others.
  • Let their fingers do the talking
    Introverts prefer writing to talking. On the job, they opt for e-mail over the telephone and stop by only when necessary. Averse to excessive conversation, many gravitate toward social networking Web sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • Low-key
    Introverts are usually quiet and reserved. Unlike extroverts, they have no desire to be the center of attention, preferring to fly below the radar instead. Even in heated conversations, they tend to stay calm-at least on the outside-and speak softly and slowly.
  • Less demonstrative
    Introverts are seldom outwardly emotional or expressive. They can be difficult to read, and thus their feelings are frequently misconstrued. It’s been said that they are like a fur coat-with the fur hidden on the inside.
  • Keep private matters…private
    Introverts are anti-open book. They keep personal matters under wraps, sharing information with only a select few. In business, they can be equally cautious-staying quiet about their ideas and alliances.


More than 80 percent of introverts say they suffer from people exhaustion at work.

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