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Have We Been Looking At Introversion & Extroversion Wrongly?

Written by: Lily Woi, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


I am a proud introvert. But that was not always the case.

Growing up, I struggled with accepting that I am an introvert by nature. I have always been labelled as a shy kid – constantly told to speak up, stop being shy and hiding away, go out more to make friends.

It is a stigma that has stuck with me most of my life until my early adulthood. In my attempt to hide it, I constantly tried to be loud and outgoing so I am seen as sociable and friendly. It was exhausting.

It was the same when I started my professional career in consulting. Every day I found myself thinking if I was in the wrong industry, doing the wrong work yet, at the same time, telling myself I should be so blessed and fortunate to have landed a job right after my degree. So I stuck on, persisted and kept trying to be someone I’m not. I don’t think anyone outside of my close friend circle noticed anything wrong with me. I’m always the positive one.

There wasn’t an exact pivotal moment I could remember that clicked for me. It was just a series of small moments adding up until one day I had a realisation. I’ve been looking at this wrong.

It was never about introversion or extroversion.

That was the excuse I was using where it became a convenient way for me to blame everyone else except myself.

It’s because I am a quiet, sensitive and shy person (an introvert) living in a world where people who are loud, outgoing and can chat about anything and nothing (an extrovert) thrive. Others don’t get it. It’s easier for them because they’re loud and confident.

I tried being like more of them, like those who seem to have it easier than me. That is getting all the exciting roles, projects and advancement opportunities. But I feel like such a fake. The constant need to be more extroverted, louder, to keep speaking more, to be seen as a happy yes person all the time is so exhausting. This is not me.

I also tried to be me. To embrace the quietness in me and focus on producing quality work. I know I am good at my job, heck I am great at my job. They just need to notice it. But they don’t. I kept getting feedback saying I’m too quiet, I need to speak up and I need to fit in more. I feel like I’m not seen or heard in the workplace.

I felt exhausted and stressed out, constantly thinking about how I can be more visible to my leaders. It is demotivating and overwhelming. My confidence level is at its all-time low and maybe my belief in being great at what I do is just an illusion.

I was frustrated because I have tried everything and nothing seems to work. It felt so hard. Maybe I’m just not cut out in this industry.

I wish it was just easier.

But the thing is…I have been looking at it wrongly.

Everyone believes in order to be successful in climbing the corporate ladder, you need to be more extroverted. Seeing their peers easily jumping into conversations, their leaders in the front of the room commanding attention, their CEOs up on stage passionately sharing their story, they mistakenly thought they’re all extroverted and it’s easy for them.

But really it’s never about extroversion and introversion.

It’s about your mindset, shedding all the limiting beliefs that society has instilled in you and reclaiming confidence in yourself to navigate the corporate world in a way that works for you. It’s really about accepting your whole self and leveraging what you have to your advantage.

Everyone thinks you need to be the life of the party to succeed. All you really need is to celebrate the party of your life.

Studies have also clearly shown that introverts can be just as successful as extroverts and in fact, excel in areas and situations where extroverts fail.

Success in the workplace comes from learning and using behaviours that bring out your uniqueness in a positive way. People who focus on extroversion and introversion are asking themselves the wrong question.

The right question is how can I leverage what I have to my advantage and live my best life.

Once I focused on leveraging my difference-ness to my advantage, things changed. I started getting noticed for the right reasons and attracting the opportunities which I wanted.

I build up my confidence in a way that I am unapologetically proud of who I am. To confidently know that I don’t need to be the first person to speak or the most or the loudest. Knowing that (and seeing) that one sentence is powerful enough when shared with value and the belief that I am capable.

I created a space for myself and stepped into it with full unapologetic authority.

Commanding attention and respect in a quiet way.

To be quietly confident.

So stop blaming yourself or your introverted-ness/quietness/shyness/sensitiveness for your lack of career success, instead learn to use it to your advantage. Learn how to use what you’re already good at, your preferences and your style to develop habits, ways of working and communicating that will help put your best foot forward.

Many introverts struggle with this, especially in the workplace, because the majority of leaders are still not well-equipped or well-resourced to give them the right support and space to grow. Hence, it is why I’m here doing what I’m doing.

I’m here to help introverts effortlessly thrive in the workplace and become unapologetically authentic and empowered in their career in a way that works for them.

If this resonates with you, let’s talk.

Follow me on LinkedIn or visit my website for more info!


Lily Woi, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Lily Woi is a professionally trained coach and an expert in helping individuals to accelerate their career progression and develop authentic leadership capabilities. She has spent years working in corporate consultancy training and advising clients to deliver multimillion transformation programs before starting her career coaching business (Lily Woi Coaching). She develops current and future leaders to be self-directed, resilient to change, grow their presence and build authentic leadership styles that motivate and inspire others. She is known for her personalized approach, tailoring content to individuals' learning preferences and work experiences to instill real practical change in an enjoyable way.



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