While having an introverted boss isn’t the worst type of boss to have, for the more extroverted employee, it has its challenges.
For the more effusive, expressive person, they often find the introverted boss frustrating or even uncomfortable to work with. For the extrovert, they are looking (or wanting) the boss to offer up more. More chat, more supportive comments, more emotion and more interaction.
When these behaviors are missing or sparse, it can cause some people to read the boss as difficult or unfriendly. Not the stuff a good relationship is made of.
My aim is to provide some insight on this introvert in your life and to let you know you can absolutely have a great working relationship with your boss.
There are a few things you need to know when working with an introverted boss:
Don’t read the silence from your boss as anything bad about you. Your boss is naturally quiet and will be more so when they have anything to “process” (think about). Unlike you that like to think out loud, that isn’t how the introvert works.
Lack of Expression
You may be measuring your boss by an unrealistic yardstick. The same might be true for other people encounters you have, so you need to think about this. For an introvert, getting excited and emoting is a big energy drain that, for them, has minimal pay off. They feel no need to jump up and down when something good comes their way even though they may very pleased with what is taking place. Change your expectation of your introvert.
Lack of Commentary About You
Unlike other people, your introvert may not feel there is a purpose to frequently talk to you about your performance or a specific project you did. If you need feedback, ask for it and be specific about your request. There is a huge difference between: “How am I doing?” and “What do you think I did well for X project?”
Also read: A Guide to Accepting Constructive Criticism
They Are Social
Counter to some beliefs, introverts are as social and in need of relationships as anyone else. But, there is a difference. Introverts establish relationships primarily in one on one a setting and not too much with a group. They also dislike superficial banter and prefer deep, thoughtful discussions as the basis of their relationships.
Task First, Relationship Second
An introvert can be very comfortable walking into work and not saying a word to anyone along the way. They tend to begin a work encounter by focusing on a task completely skipping the friendly banter many people do. This can be seen as unfriendly but not in the mind of the introvert. In fact, it doesn’t even occur to them because they focus very intensely on the work. For the introvert, all the social openings and greetings can be annoying and a waste of time. Since this person is your boss, you need to observe how this works for them as if you press them on the social banter, they will have a negative opinion of you. When you’re the boss, you can do the relationship stuff first followed by the task and your employees will have to adjust to your personality!
Introverts tend to dislike participating in after work group activities like going out for a drink. If you want to build the relationship, spend time in a one on one setting. Suggest that just the two of you go get a coffee or lunch. Also, look for small time slots after you review work with them to simply find out more about them. You will have to be the one starting the conversation and asking the questions but it will pay dividends in the long run. Relationship building is a time investment.
Also read: 5 Tips for Communicating With the C-Suite
Part of the alone time your introvert boss is doing is required to help them build or restore their energy. You need to give them their space and time for the battery to get recharged.
Keep in mind that diversity in the workplace is about honoring everyone’s differences and adjusting to ensure the greatest amount of effectiveness for you and the other person. There is no “good” or “bad” when it comes to personalities, simply differences.