An Illustrated Guide to Introverts in a Start-Up

Dear Start-ups,

Introverts are valuable employees. We bring creativity, dedication, and self-motivation to any task we focus on. According to Marti Laney, author of The Introvert Advantage,

“Introverts are thoughtful, imaginative, tend to work independently and think outside the box. Introverts are keen observers and sensitive listeners.”

Famous introvert entrepreneurs include Thomas Edison, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Marissa Mayer, and Mark Zuckerberg.

When we imagine our ideal workplace, it looks more like a library full of quiet rooms and isolated carrels than the ball-pit and bullpen situation start-ups are currently obsessed with. As introverts, we may be outnumbered by extroverts at start-ups. According to Laney, “The introvert is pressured daily, almost from the moment of awakening, to respond and conform to the outer world.” This need to conform can be tiring. But we promise, with just a few tweaks in the workplace, you could make us very happy.

Here are a few guidelines to help us out:

  1. Open floor plans take years off our lives. If possible, give us our own space.quiet1-01
  2. In planning employee bonding activities, look beyond the noisy “all-company mixers.” We can be intensely social, but prefer one-on-one or small group interactions.quiet2-01
  3. If you want us to speak up at all-hands meetings, provide an agenda, and put us on it. We do best when we can think before we share our thoughts.quiet3-01
  4. We don’t rely on external stimulation via ping-pong tables, sound systems, and snack areas. We can give you our best work while sitting in a room by ourselves.quiet4-01
  5. Give us the freedom to structure our own days, and we’ll get the work done.quiet5-01
  6. Recognize our good work through thoughtful gifts or simple acknowledgements, not public toasts.quiet6-01
  7. Team travel takes energy. Socializing after all-day site visits or client engagements burns us out. Let us have down time we need.quiet7-01

Sincerely,

An empathetic introvert

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