Hi. My name is Tal. I have to go home and hide in a bathtub. That’s not exactly a socially acceptable thing to say at a client dinner, but as an introvert in extrovert’s clothing, the thought has scurried through my head many times.
Apparently I’m not the only one. Aya Jaffar’s exploration, “Introvert at IDEO”, reveals that I am healthier and far less freakish than I ever could have dreamed. As an intern, Aya took on the task of asking her fellow IDEOers how they embrace their introversion in such an extroverted environment.
IDEO is filthy rich with fascinating people. Every week we have stimulating lunch-hour talks and raucous happy hours. Our office is the ultimate embodiment of an extroverted workspace. We think out loud! We brainstorm together! We eat in teams! We have walk and talks, just like in The West Wing!
That’s all well and good for about half the population. But the best work cultures make space for those of us who seek occasional refuge from the chatter.
There's a spectrum
Carl Jung was a pretty smart fellow. He suggested that everyone falls somewhere on the Introvert <---> Ambivert <---> Extrovert scale, so none of us are purely one thing or another. Big Bird? Michelle Obama? Your bus driver? Probably all extroverts with introverted traits. Just like me.
Introverts recharge with solo time
Introverts aren’t shy! They’re exhausted and they need to step away from others to think things out or recharge. That’s also why they have monstrously large noise-cancelling headphones on. Always.
They've got skillzzzzz
While extroverts’ positive qualities are easy to identify and praise, we should be quick to notice the greatness and strengths of introverts too. They are world-class listeners, thoughtful synthesizers, and often gifted at lifting others up. They also thrive when working independently so they can get just about anything done if you leave them alone for a bit.
Introverts need thoughtful workspaces
While our colorful, collaborative work style might suggest otherwise, our office actually considers introverts more than we know. We have phone booths built for one, the hushed Lighthouse workroom, enclosed project spaces, and breakout couches that allow anyone to focus in a way that works best for them. Plus, IDEO expects us to manage our own space and schedule, allowing us the freedom to work from home on occasion without ever being judged.
So bring on that big dinner! And some wine! And a cheese platter!
You’ll find me in the bathtub, gearing up for tomorrow.