Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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The Introvert as Employee

I came across this imaginary description calling for an introverted employee.  I like the concept but think it needs work to rephrase everything in positive terms:

"If an employer were to post a job opening requiring an introverted personality, it might read something like this:

Must not be a team player
Must work best in a quiet environment
Must live in their head for the majority of time
Must not be a multi-tasker
Must like to work in solitude
Must not co-mingle with other staff members"

I suggest something like:

Must be a self-motivated worker
Must work well in a quiet environment
Must be comfortable with internal processes and "doing the work in your head"
Must be capable of concentrating on one task at a time
Must like to work in solitude
Must be self-sufficient socially in the absence of coworkers

There used to be a fair number of jobs like this, where the working conditions created isolation.  Lighthouse keeper, fire tower watcher, winter warden in national parks, etc.  Many of those jobs are gone, or at least rarer now.  But we've created other jobs that don't really require a "team" work environment.  In particular, work-at-home jobs are ideal for introverts and lousy for extroverts.  You don't have to be a pure introvert to work at home, any more than you must be a pure extrovert to work in an office; you just need to have that mode accessible.  

The problem is that employers rarely understand how to frame their needs for such positions, because -- aside from the technical skills of the job itself -- the workplace and interpersonal skills are opposite  what has been the norm.  Look at the complaints against work-at-home models, and you'll see a classic description of what goes wrong putting extroverts in isolation.  They wind down, get lonely, and have trouble doing the job.  Meanwhile introverts are thriving.  So it's vitally important that employers understand and describe clearly the working conditions for a job and the kind of personality that best suits it.

Feel free to share this with anyone who might be interested, especially folks who write out the "help wanted" ads.
Tags: community, economics
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