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23 MAY

An Introvert's Guide to Thriving at Work

Extroverts seem to shine in medicine, but you can learn how to succeed as an introvert, too. You just have to learn how to manage your limitations while making the most of your strengths. In other words, do exactly what the extroverts are doing, but switch it up a little. There's room for every personality type in medicine, and when introverts fine-tune their skills, they wind up creating a creative, cohesive team.


Managing Your Limitations

Plenty of introverts learn how to stand out at work for positive reasons, but it's rarely an enthusiasm for meeting new people. It doesn't matter if they are coworkers, employers or patients. There's just something about the introduction phase that makes an introvert want to run home and jump back into bed, safely hidden under the covers.

And there are plenty of medical careers which help you largely avoid this task - pathology, anesthesiology, necropology - but you don't have to give up your dreams of working directly with patients, either. Studying diseases in their native state is fascinating, and you're able to do a lot of good, too. Over time, you will feel less anxious when meeting new people, especially if you:

  • Practice your introduction. Whether you're meeting the new head of surgery or a child with a broken tooth, take a moment to run through what you'll say when you first shake hands. A strong start makes the way for a quick, painless finish - not to mention a good impression.
  • Don't mimic extroverts. Remember, you have strengths they don't possess. There are patients who will appreciate your quiet, thoughtful demeanor and your careful choice of words. In fact, there will be people who return to you for those reasons, so feel confident in interacting with patients the way that feels most natural to you. Sometimes, people talk nervously during exams. Simply explaining what you're doing can go a long way towards calming their nerves, and it doesn't leave you scrambling to create a conversation.
  • Develop a core of close friends. Extroverts are well-known to everyone, and they always know exactly who to call when there's a problem. As an introvert, you're likely to have a few select friends you hold in high regard. Keep those relationships solid. Make it a point to stay in touch, to ask their opinions or to request help when you need it. That's one of the hardest things for introverts to do, but in the world of medicine, no one person has all the answers. It's not expected, so don't worry about putting your friends out.

Workplace friends

Making the Most of Your Strengths

Introverts are often better at solo activities than extroverts who require more feedback to feel confident. That gives you an advantage during many common tasks in healthcare. Among the most important tips for introverts is to take full advantage of these opportunities. You'll not only impress your employers, outperform your coworkers and deliver outstanding results, but you'll also feel that same enthusiasm extroverts get when shaking hands and meeting new people. Let your skills shine when you:

  • Do your research. Introverts are often best at research and preparation. These skills come in handy when a member of your team needs help. Not only can you help gather the necessary facts, but also share them in a way that's easy for others to put to use. Unfortunately, this can lead introverts to search for solutions instead of reaching out to their support system. Keep an eye on this habit, and don't let it alienate you from your coworkers. Become a reliable resource, and people will seek you out.
  • Measure twice. In construction and crafting, there's a rule: "Measure twice, cut once." Introverts are especially good at heeding this advice, and absolutely have the advantage when compared to their extrovert cohorts. Their enthusiasm often leads to overlooking small details and making mistakes. Your thoughtfulness and natural sense of caution will help you make careful decisions when they count the most.
  • Manage workplace gossip. Introverts avoid drama at all costs, but sooner or later it's bound to come up. If you aren't careful, you'll become the quiet one everyone knows they can talk to (i.e. a negativity dumping ground). Your natural resistance to this type of behavior will lead to impatience and eventual meltdowns. Being a hothead is not how you want to stand out at work! Escape this fate by being sincere in the moment. Your natural disinterest will prevent people from confusing you for a constant confidant. With fewer people slinging dirt, you'll help create a fun, relaxed workplace wherever you're hired.

It's easy to learn how to succeed as an introvert. Even in medicine, there are tasks requiring your specific skills. As for the rest? It's manageable, if not always the most exciting part of the job. Use these tips for introverts to honor your strengths and minimize your weaknesses on the job. Before long, you'll have a thriving career!