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For introverts to thrive in the workplace, they need to learn how to leverage their strengths in a setting that’s typically built on the so-called extrovert ideal.iStock/Getty Images Plus

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Ask Women and Work

Question: I feel like I’m an introvert in a workplace full of extroverts. I’m comfortable with who I am, but I also have ambitions to lead and to advance. Are there ways I can stand out and show my worth without trying to be someone I’m not?

We asked Lissa Appiah, career strategist, personal branding expert and founder of WeApply Canada, to tackle this one:

First, it’s important to understand who an introvert is. People often associate being introverted with being shy, but an introvert is really someone who draws energy from solitude and being alone; that’s when they thrive the most. An extrovert, on the other hand, is someone who thrives in social settings; they get their energy from being around people. Introverts can definitely thrive in the workplace, even though it’s typically built on the so-called extrovert ideal. It’s all about recognizing and leveraging your strengths, knowing there is value in the way you do things and learning how to manage your energy in a workplace setting.

I’m an introvert, so I can relate to this very well. For example, if I have a work presentation or speaking engagement, I’ll block off a couple of minutes beforehand to get myself in that zone so that I’m really focused on what I need to do. Then afterwards, I will go have my quiet time to get my energy level back where it needs to be, and then when I’m ready, I’ll go out and do the networking portion.

Maybe back-to-back meetings don’t work for you very well because you get drained from interacting with so many people. So it’s about taking control of your calendar to see how you can spread out meetings so that in each meeting, you’re presenting yourself at an optimal level.

Introverts tend to excel when talking to people one-on-one, and they are able to build really good relationships with people because they have great listening skills. That’s a huge strength that is often overlooked. Look for opportunities to use this as an advantage to build stronger, authentic relationships with your colleagues.

I encourage people to talk about their accomplishments. It’s through that visibility that you’re able to get opportunities to advance in your career. For extroverts, that often involves speaking up loudly in meetings and telling everybody, ‘I did this,’ and ‘I did that.’ But as an introvert, you could set up monthly or bi-weekly check-ins with your manager to share your accomplishments on a one-on-one basis. Or, maybe you could send a regular e-mail to your manager to share your accomplishments.

Personal branding is a very powerful way to be able to showcase your strengths and your skills, as well as build trust and credibility. LinkedIn can be a great platform because it favours written content, which is a wonderful thing for an introvert because you don’t have to put your face in every post that you write. It provides you with an opportunity to make your self-promotion about your expertise, as opposed to making it about your personality or the way you look, which is sometimes the case with other social media platforms.

Submit your own questions to Ask Women and Work by e-mailing us at

This week’s must-read stories on women and work

You failed at work. Could that actually be a good thing?

If you’ve ever blamed traffic for being late for work but judge others for being tardy, you might be suffering from a universal human struggle: the inability to admit your own mistakes.

Despite the celebratory Silicon Valley mantra of “fail fast, fail often” and the recent popularity of corporate “failure parties,” the stigma associated with making a mistake persists. After all, no one should be celebrating a heart surgeon or automobile plant manager who fails fast or often.

The lack of nuance in the prevalent rhetoric around the topic of failure is what prompted Harvard Business School professor Amy C. Edmondson to write a book on the subject.

“The reason I wrote this book was to address and sharpen the happy talk about failure – to limit the idea of praising failure to those [failures] that are actually productive,” she says.

Read more about what we can learn from our failures.

It is time to recognize the major issue of ‘boreout’ at work

We talk a lot about burnout at work, but maybe it is time to also discuss ‘boreout’.

From mental health issues for the workers to productivity losses for the organizations that employ them, boredom comes with many costs. Figuring out how to engage people would reap rewards for the individuals involved and for the economy as a whole.

A staggering 35 per cent of Canadian employees say that they are bored at work. That is according to research from LinkedIn and staffing firm Robert Half (the data was released just ahead of Groundhog Day 2023, to make the point that people felt they were doing the same things over and over). Just type in the popular hashtag #boredatwork on TikTok and you will see reams of videos made by bored workers, many presumably during work hours.

Read more about the costs of boreout, and how “purpose” can mitigate it.

Create a brag sheet to prepare for evaluations down the road

Memories can be short. Our most effective acts at work can also go unnoticed.

It’s therefore important to have a compilation – a brag document – of what you have accomplished.

“Some kinds of important work are more visible/memorable than others. It’s frustrating to have done something really important and later realize that you didn’t get rewarded for it just because the people making the decision didn’t understand or remember what you did,” Montreal software developer Julia Evans notes on her blog.

Starting to prepare one early in the year can be sensible so later on, when evaluations occur, you are well-armed. Indeed, while the document is primarily to remind you of your accomplishments, a crib sheet, she suggests you might want to share it with your manager if there are periodic evaluations. She was initially nervous doing so but her manager offered thanks, because it made his job easier.

Read more for tips on making an effective brag sheet.

In case you missed it

Returning to the office – the big win for the lazy employee

“Cracking down on lazy employees seems to be the No. 1 reason for companies to mandate a return to the office five days a week,” says Calgary-based talent and leadership development specialist Eileen Dooley. “It was the most common comment from my last article on the myths of returning to the office, with ‘why are we paying Ms. Dooley to do her laundry’ being a close second. Unless employees are watched, or report into an office, they will do nothing more than sleep in, pretend to be online and, of course, loads and loads of laundry.


“Lazy workers were not born during the pandemic. They existed long before, and they were able to get away with it at work really well. Think George Costanza’s Ten Commandments for ‘Working Hard. Although dated, it holds true today. Ask anyone if they are busy and they will almost always say yes, especially those who are lazy. Location has nothing to do with being lazy. People who are lazy will find any environment to be lazy in.”

Read why Ms. Dooley says mandating workers back to the office may provide lazy workers the ability to ‘hide in plain sight’ by being present but not accomplishing much.

From the archives

Networking and leadership training aren’t just for white-collar workers – women in manufacturing need these opportunities too

Wenyi He was just 26 years old when she was promoted to production manager at AGI Westfield, a Manitoba-based company that makes augers for the agricultural industry. When working on the manufacturing floor, Ms. He is mostly in the company of welders. About 70 per cent of them are men – some more than double her age.

“I did have a lot of challenges since I’m young and I’m a woman,” Ms. He recalls of starting the role last year. “They think, ‘You know nothing about the [manufacturing] floor.’”

This past spring, Ms. He participated in a leadership development program operated by Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME), where she gained soft skills in communication, leadership and delegation. She says she learned that she can’t always provide solutions for the people she works with. “I want them involved. We need to brainstorm and solve the problem together.”

Read the full article.

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