An Introverts Guide to Motivating Co-workers

Introvert Whisperer

Whether part of a team or in leadership, motivating co-workers can be a difficult, but necessary, task for any introvert. The reason for this necessity extends itself to job security, success, and overall well-being. Providing a call to action is critical for a successful leader and co-worker to rally their team.

The goal of this guide is to remind those who identify as introverted of two key things. First, being introverted is not a problem. Many people that were considered introverted are regarded as thoughtful, creative, compassionate, and proper leaders. This list includes Thomas Edison, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and as recent as Mark Zuckerburg. Secondly, leaders are deemed successful because they are able to motivate, and clearly move teammates to action.

Praise Teammates While They’re Working Toward a Goal, Not After They’ve Achieved It – Lifehacker

Comfort and Confrontation

Many of the times I spent in a cubicle felt like my freshmen college dorm room all over again. Just when you think you’ve graduated and escape this sort of behavior someone leaves a half full cereal bowl at his or her desk for weeks on end. I wasn’t perfect myself, I’m sure biking to work every morning had it’s effects on my coworkers as well.

Although most terrible roommate behavior won’t make it to the office, this leads to our first step towards being a good introverted leader. Think about cleanly office habits and remember to lead by example. This goes beyond words, and is a very easy first step for the introvert. Clean up after yourself and take pride in appearances when in front of co-workers. Rarely does respect follow a messy leader who has no regard for shared space.

Furthermore, it is important to become comfortable in the office. Body language and facial expressions can sometimes mean more than words. Simply making eye contact and smiling when a coworker passes by will show them that you care and are friendly, even without saying a word. This goes a long way, but the other side of this coin is that confrontation will occasionally happen, and introverts will have to face facts here.


Confrontation typically puts introverts out of their comfort zone, but it is key to remain comfortable when delivering criticism. Practice what kind of voice you’ll be using when speaking with a co-worker, it’s best to stay conversational, and mix praise in with key points, but don’t use praise to soften critique. This goes a long way when it comes to have healthy confrontation and being viewed as a trustworthy leader or co-worker.

Connection and Motivation

Even if you have to invent an app: remember to motivate your co-workers regularly. Not only are you trying to get the most out of teammates, you’re reminding them that you are trustworthy, and looking out for their best interests. This day an age, the Internet has thousands of motivational posters gifs out there to share around the office or in an email.

Keep in mind that praising team members for their hard work is often better than highlighting their abilities. Even if the average worker isn’t endowed with advanced skills they might outwork the other who already knows techniques beyond their years. Recognize success before they meet the goals, people love to know that someone sees them making the extra effort, not just trying to swoop in once everything’s gone right.

Essentially, praise used correctly and at the right time, improves team members’ confidence. High confidences will help them pursue goals and take pride in their work. Coincidentally, a co-worker who feels confident will become receptive to suggestion. This allows you to influence them to earn an improved final product.

Time and Place

As Introverts, we tend to microscope in on problems, goals, and concepts. Instead of always looking inward for solutions, understand there’s a time and place for certain behavior. Once we recognize that you cannot be introverted in every coaching situation it becomes easier work towards proper extroverted behavior.

To get a good grasp on time and place I remember something from my childhood experience. In middle school often times we’d take class off to watch a school sporting event held during the day. While time spent in the classroom required focus, listening, and sometimes-introverted behavior, the sporting event was naturally more extroverted and allowed for discussion, cheering, and generally more interaction between students and teachers. I think of the sports event because some of the attitude associated with being extroverted comes in the form of coaching athletes.

Traits that are common among athletes are often times the most extroverted ones:

  • Being outgoing in groups
  • Loving competition
  • Being aggressive
  • Taking risks

The office may not be the ideal place to cheer like you’re at a sports game, but it sure beats the typical excuses for quiet, non-interactive behavior. Competition can be fun at work, so take the risk and introduce fun aspects into the workday.


The Impact of Feedback

Finally, the affect of goal progress, feedback and critique has a major correlation. The consequences deal directly with how positive feedback motivates goal pursuit when it signals an increase in goal commitment, whereas negative feedback motivates goal pursuit when it shows insufficient goal progress.

This, I believe, stems from how honesty is the best way to approach any situation. Being true to yourself will always make you a better leader. If you’re out on the floor with co-workers and speaking the truth then they are more likely to listen and take to heart what is being said. Thus, it makes sense that truth combined with feedback will further your teammates in their goal commitment and progress.

An Extroverted You

In closing, it is important to remember that you must remain true to yourself, and others. Simply expressing yourself openly, without fear of confrontation, and keeping in mind that the workplace should always be a safe space, will show others the outgoing side of your personality. Regularly remind your co-workers of their value, it will keep them motivated.

Although you may not always be interested in channeling the extroverted side of you, it is there. Explore this side of your mind though outgoing activities, and discussion within groups. You’ll be surprised what being the strong silent type can earn when speaking outwardly and directly is in your wheelhouse.

Guest Author: Ryan De La Rosa is a writer and musician living in the Pacific Northwest with his two dogs. To see more of his writing follow him on twitter @fernsandmoss

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