3 Things Introverts Do to Screw Up Their Career – and What to Do Instead

3 things introverts do to screw up their careers

The reason we study history is to learn from both the good and bad things others have done. We try to repeat the good things and avoid repeating the bad ones. Generally, that history lesson is isolated to leaders of nations and sometimes business leaders.

Why not history lessons for those of us Introverts coming up through the ranks?

I’m here to help introverts avoid some of the more common problems they create in their careers driven primarily by their personality tendencies. I see these thing Introverts do to screw up their careers almost daily.

Yes, these issues can be avoided — we are all capable of changing without compromising who we really are.


Issue #1: Under-Developed Social Skills

Granted, not all Introverts are socially underdeveloped, but many are. It’s easy, especially if you’re in Introvert, to slip into a mode of simply not interacting with others enough to build your social skills. Let’s face it: it’s hard to develop the all-important Know-Like-Trust recipe with someone who is difficult to interact with. (Tweet this!)

Do this instead: If you aren’t sure if this is you, find out immediately. You need to get some feedback. Ask your boss who is apt to give you the most unvarnished view of your behavior. Ask an HR representative, coach or therapist. (This may have been something your mother never told you but should have.) Consider taking classes in speaking, emotional intelligence, communication or even sales to help build your social skills. Without adequate social skills, you are in for a career and life of disappointment.


Issue #2: Lack of Strategic Relationships

This is related but separate from #1. You won’t get far by your good looks or skills alone. Your career growth is dependent on whom you know and who knows you. As you climb the ranks, your ability to reach new levels will increasingly become about the relationships you have made. Think about it this way: Do you think Bill Gates got to where he did solely on his computer genius? No, he had equal prowess figuring whom to be aligned with. And yes, he is a big time introvert.

Do this instead: You may need to practice to get your relationship-building mojo going, but building skills is what career growth is all about. Start by thinking through 2 or 3 people who you think would be good for you to know both now and in the future. Start slowly getting to know these people and forming reciprocal relationships. A good place to start is with a group “rising star.” They are always easy to pick out and get to know on their way up.


Issue #3: Adapt to Your Situation

As Darwin said, adapting is central to our existence. Change is a constant even though it’s an urban myth that we resist change. If you aren’t figuring out how to adapt your style of interacting or performing your job on an ongoing basis, you will quickly become a problem. This is the best way to become obsolete or difficult to work with. Yes,, you are an Introvert, but is all of that tendency serving you well in all situations? Probably not.

Do this instead: Be conscious of the situations that don’t turn out as well as you would like. For those that tend to repeat, think about alternate behaviors and interactions you can have that might reshape the outcome the next time. Look at how and what others do as possible models for what you could do. Obviously, you won’t adapt behaviors that make you cringe. Keep in mind that the definition of insanity is doing things the same way but expecting different results. If you need additional ideas, comb the Internet for ideas or find books to help you develop solutions.

Which of these three pitfalls have you observed in your own career? Share your survival stories in the comments!

Image: Flickr

Brought to you by Dorothy Tannahill-Moran – dedicated to unleash your professional potential.

About Dorothy

Dorothy Tannahill-Moran is the Introvert Whisperer, Career & Leadership, speaker and author.

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