Excelling in the profession as an introvert
Being an introvert, or even having introverted tendencies, can sometimes feel daunting and overwhelming in a profession seemingly filled with extroverts. Having completed 2 years of pharmacy residency, then developing a clinical practice site as an assistant professor at Chapman University, and now developing a clinical practice site as an assistant professor at the University of Colorado, I find myself challenged to balance my introverted tendencies with the aspects of my job that push me out of my comfort zone.
Here are some tips I find useful when navigating the profession as an introvert.
Get to know your co-workers
First, focus on nurturing individual connections at work. I find checking in with co-workers on a daily basis just to see how they are doing always helps kindle and build trusting relationships. Your co-workers are some of your most valuable advocates, and creating connection is imperative to your success. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s challenging to accept invitations for social events at work. However, if you focus on having meaningful conversations with a few, as opposed to small talk with everyone, I assure you it will be a much more positive and rewarding experience.
Break out from your comfort zone
Then make an effort to do things that make you uncomfortable. Sign up to present at the monthly provider educational series or volunteer to hold quarterly resident topic discussions. I always tell my students that practice makes perfect, and it’s important to follow the same motto you preach! If you come across an opportunity to take on a leadership role, take it. Start with a small leadership role, and work your way up as your confidence and comfort levels build.
Be your own advocate
This one is so important because introverts generally aren’t the first to share accomplishments with others. I’m here to tell you, toot your own horn sometimes! It’s important to show your value at work, especially to key players. You know your work is valuable, but others oftentimes won’t see your value unless you point it out to them. So share your hard work at those weekly work meetings, and get the word out about what you’re doing and your accomplishments. Also, learn to accept compliments from others. As an introvert, we often shy away from the spotlight. Leaning into a compliment and patting yourself on the back certainly does feel good when you allow yourself to experience it.
Focus on your strengths
Sometimes the most challenging part of having introverted tendencies is learning to focus on your strengths rather than trying to change yourself to be more extroverted. Introverts excel in internal reflection, are passionate about performance, and come to the table with ideas and comments only after much thought. Be sure to lean into your sure and steady nature. Don’t act out of haste (this is a valuable asset to have).
Additionally, introverts are oftentimes great listeners. Instead of listening to talk, an introvert will listen to truly listen and formulate thoughts carefully before speaking. But introverts also generally excel at written communication. So if I am describing you, then send out those eloquently written e-mails containing provider educational handouts you have spent hours creating, and proudly provide updates about your new initiatives and recent accomplishments. These are all valuable traits for individuals to have and will often provide balance in teams when working with extroverted peers.
In conclusion, you bring value as you are. Embrace your authentic self and show others the great things you can do!
Ashley Daffron, PharmD, BCACP, is an assistant professor at the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. She loves to spend time with her husband, family, friends, and her two dogs, “Quinn” and “Eddie.”