Show Notes: Episode 171 – Upskilling
June 19, 2023
Show Notes: Episode 172 – Introverts at Work
July 3, 2023

Click here for this episode’s show notes.

This transcript was created using an automated transcription service and may contain errors.

Ryan 00:02
It’s really thinking about where you where you sort of get your energy from. Is it inward focused, or is it externally focused?

Susan 00:10
Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we help HR and business leaders embrace joy in the workplace. I’m Susan White, owner of Susan Tinder White Consulting, an HR consulting practice. Joining me is my co-host and dear friend JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink and Powered by Purple Ink, a professional network I am part of.

Susan 00:30
Today’s episode focuses on introverts at work. In a 2020 MBTI global study, Myers Briggs found that 56.8% of people say that they are introverts. As you listen to today’s podcast, you may be thinking, I’m an introvert, or my boss, my colleague, my staff member is an introvert, or maybe your partner, your best friend, your parent, your child is an introvert. More than half of us are.

JoDee 00:56
I am totally not an introvert. What about you?

Susan 01:02
JoDee, you didn’t even have to take a test for me. I would have said you are not an introvert. I always thought I was an introvert until I took any tests regarding this or assessments, because I always felt like I really ponder and I’m not… I always thought I wasn’t one who just jumped in. But then I took the Myers Briggs and I was a really strong extrovert and I waited a few years and took it again and I was even stronger. So I realized I may be quiet, but boy I do… I am… extroverted is my thing.

JoDee 01:30
Yeah, that doesn’t surprise me at all.

Susan 01:33
In the workplace, behaving in an extroverted way is often rewarded. Conscious or unconscious bias by organization leaders may lead to extroverted employees having their opinions heard first and valued more. Do you see that, JoDee, happening sometimes?

JoDee 01:48
Well, I do… not… I mean, I kind of hate to admit it, almost. Right? Like, we don’t want that to be the case, but, you know, many times the extra… the extroverts are the ones who don’t mind to speak up or share their opinion or show some more engagement and they get acknowledged more frequently, I think.

Susan 02:11
I know. It is unfair, but I do think it’s real. In work settings, extroverts are more likely to rattle off responses or an idea or challenge than an introvert who may be processing the question or topic before they weigh in. The extrovert may appear to be more ready with thoughts and may be seen as more assertive than their introverted colleagues. An expression that my son, who is definitely an introvert, often uses in the workplace is, “a closed mouth doesn’t get fed.” He has learned that he has to push himself outside of his comfort zone often to speak up in the business world and be heard earlier than he is sometimes ready so as not to miss an opportune moment. Myers Briggs suggests employers consider incorporating four practices to unleash the power of introversion. The first one is allow space and time to think. You know, we’ve talked before how – when you’re running a meeting, how important it is to get an agenda out in advance, because an introvert – as well as extroverts, really – knowing what they’re walking into can be so helpful, especially if you’re trying to brainstorm solutions. Letting people, especially introverts, have time to process, think about it… they’re gonna come with wonderful ideas, but we’ve got to give them that time and space.

JoDee 03:24
Yeah, I really learned that lesson over the years that people… I don’t need time to process, so that’s difficult for me to allow that time for others, but I’m much more aware of that now than I ever was.

Susan 03:42
Yeah, I think that’s a great add.

JoDee 03:44
So number two is listen. Always good advice – right? – in all circumstances and for all people, but I think especially when introvert offers up an idea, it is usually well thought out. They’re not talking off the cuff a lot about things – or they don’t like to, anyway – and so they’re not going to come to you like I might come to you, where I’m just spitballing – right? – or talking about something that I haven’t really thought through very well I just want to get people’s opinions on. But so when they come to you with that, listen and realize the depth behind what they have just uttered.

Susan 04:33
Number three, choose the communication method that you’re going to use with an introvert thoughtfully. Picking up the phone and calling them to talk through a topic on the spur of the moment may not be the most effective way of connecting. Written communication is often preferred by introverts, but this is a generality. Just as you would with any staff member, ask each person how and when do they like to be communicated with. It’s going to yield great results for both of you.

JoDee 04:59
Yeah. Number four says allow them time to recharge. I’ll tell you a quick story about someone on my team. We had had an internal – what we call a summit for a big group of people, and one of our introverts had spent a lot of time working on that. She was at the summit, she attended it and was great. Well, that night, I got on a plane and flew to a national conference for two more days, to which I was surrounded by even thousands of people at this process. And then when I got back to the office at the end of the week, I said something to the introvert person who said she was taking the day off because she had just been around so many people at the summit at the beginning of the week. And I like… I just so… I know that about her, but I so don’t always remember that. Right? That I got on a plane and went to even more people and she’s like, I’ve got to have time by myself for a while. So it’s so important.

Susan 06:18
Isn’t that funny? And you came home energized and she’s like… Yeah.

JoDee 06:21

Susan 06:22
Working at it. Interesting.

JoDee 06:24

Susan 06:25
We invited a guest today who focuses on the dynamics of introversion and extroversion in the workplace. Our guest is Ryan Showalter, Director of Consulting at 84.51. He earned his MBA at DePaul University and holds an undergrad communications degree from Denison University. In 2019. He founded ITOPiA, an employee resource group at 84.51, a retail data science insights and media company, around people introversion and extroversion. Welcome, Ryan.

Ryan 06:58
Thank you.

JoDee 06:59
Ryan, I understand that you consider yourself an introvert. Can you tell us about your journey through this and how you discovered your introversion?

Ryan 07:13
From my earliest memory, I was always on the quieter side of the spectrum, if you will. So I was always sort of told I was quiet, too quiet, you need to speak up, those kinds of things. But I didn’t really understand it until much, much later when I entered the workforce. And I think when I first took the Myers Briggs tests, which sort of gave it a name for me around this idea of introversion was when I first started to think through that lens, but it was kind of nice to have a name to it that sort of encompassed a lot of the… a lot of my personality traits, I guess. But that was… that was really the first time that, like, I started to think through the lens of introversion.

JoDee 08:06
Don’t you think, too, Ryan, that people mistake quietness for introversion?

Ryan 08:13
Yes, correct. That is definitely a big assumption. Because you can be a quiet extrovert, you could be a loud introvert, you could be a social introvert, a non-social introvert, all those things. And so it does sort of have definitely this characteristic of potentially being mislabeled or misinterpreted. And really, the definition that I typically use, because there’s multiple definitions out there around introversion, is really thinking about where you… where you sort of get your energy from. Is it inward focused, or is it externally focused? And you can see that come to life in certain things like a party surrounded by lots of stimuli. Do you get exhausted quickly? Are you sort of energized by all that stimulus? If you sort of react inwardly and sort of drained by stimulus, that’s probably more introverted. If you have energy from it, that’s probably more extroverted. But it doesn’t mean that you’re quiet. So it just… it’s sort of where your energy lies and how you react to stimulus versus anything else.

JoDee 09:26
Great explanation.

Susan 09:29
Makes sense. So Ryan, What does ITOPiA stand for?

Ryan 09:33
We just refer to it as ITOPiA. And so what we… where that name came about was just using, you know, this idea of introversion and smashing it together with utopia, because what we’re trying to do is create this ideal sort of workplace for introverts.

Susan 09:55
I like that. And so you’ve started ITOPiA. How many are in the group, who’s in the group, and what types of things do you focus on as a group?

Ryan 10:04
So we have over 100 members out of, like, 1,000 sort of company size that are currently participating within the group. What we focus on is really sort of a two-pronged approach. And so the first thing that we’re trying to do is that for a variety of reasons, our corporate culture has sort of developed this extroverted ideal. And by that, I mean there is an ideal sort of set in people’s minds in the way they think through things that is more extroverted. So you’re looking for this dynamic, charismatic leader. And sometimes we associate leadership with sort of that dynamic, charismatic, sort of extroverted ideal of a leader, as an example of one area. So one of the things we’re working on is how do we create a little bit more balance in the organization in our culture towards sort of, you know, introverted ideals as well as the extroverted ideas. So that’s sort of one area that we focus on. The second is because we live in this sort of extroverted ideal environment, currently in our – mostly in our Western culture, by the way – but as… as we sort of operate in that, we also work with individuals who are on the introverted side of what are the ways that you can manage through sort of that extroverted ideal, while at the same time, we’re trying to bring that a little bit more into balance, as well.

Susan 11:38
Oh, that makes sense. And ITOPiA, obviously, it started at your organization. Are you getting any interest at other companies?

Ryan 11:46
You know, when we first started, it kind of started organically as an idea just around… We started talking very grassroots, and just really with one person around this idea of, like, some… some struggles that he was having as an introvert, and it sort of spiraled. And as that sort of spiraled into a group, when I first sort of ventured into this, the question… it was always an interesting one, took us awhile to figure out is, how do you create a group of introverts, when by our nature, we do not want to be part of a external sort of group?

JoDee 12:22
Exactly I was thinking. How do you get them to join?

Ryan 12:26
Correct. And so we started that a little bit within small groups. And again, that… and then sort of multiplied out small groups into larger groups, is sort of how we sort of approached that. But the idea, like I said, was to sort of work through what the struggles were with introversion and how to approach that. So when we first started, it was really hard to find other sort of groups doing this. I don’t think there were many. I’m sure there was a few. But if there were ones, again, sort of by nature, there’s not a lot of sort of outward discussion about it. But I will say, as time has rolled on, and sort of this idea around introversion has continued to sort of progress, I do think there is additional momentum sort of in our culture and society around sort of understanding more introversion and sort of, as I said, creating a little bit more balance in the approaches we’re taking. So over time, I would definitely say there’s more and more of these sort of groups popping up or this idea is definitely taking off in multiple areas.

JoDee 13:45
And you mentioned that one of the things the group talks about are some challenges that you have that work. Tell us more about that. And what are some of those challenges?

Ryan 13:58
Yeah, I think the biggest challenge is around the judgement of the style of introversion that sort of shows up in the workplace. By that, I mean you might be in a meeting and an introvert may not say a word in a meeting and that comes with currently – although I think this is, again, evolving – judgment around sort of that introvert not speaking up in a meeting. And that judgment is usually, again, assumptions of wasn’t interested, didn’t have anything valuable to say, distracted, all of those kinds of things. That sort of puts on this layer of judgment for someone simply really just absorbing what’s happening in the meeting, processing what’s happening in the meeting, thinking, and for a variety of reasons, just didn’t formulate any sort of vocal output in a meeting. Now, there are times… and don’t get me wrong, like, we cannot just sit as introverts in meetings all day and never sort of find our voice in those meetings. However, if someone emails or has a discussion after the meeting that creates value, it’s still creating value. Maybe not the way you expected it, not the way you sort of approached it or wanted it to happen, but value is still being created. Then I would also say, like, was the meeting structure sort of created in a way that sourced or pooled from an introvert in a way that felt really authentic to the introvert? Maybe not, maybe. So those kinds of things are happening in the workplace.

Susan 15:49
Yeah. Do you have any suggestions on how you could structure a meeting that would really optimize the chances of an introvert sharing?

Ryan 15:56
Yeah, so one of the things that’s happening is introverts sort of process inwardly and then sort of apply that outwardly. An extrovert would sort of process outwardly and then maybe reflect inwardly. It’s sort of… so, we have these two, like, opposite sort of degrees of how people think. And if you look at the science, there are some signs around, it’s really about the way your brain sort of is mapped. And so, like, an introvert has just, like, a longer pathway for all these things to connect, while an extrovert is more sort of straight… it’s a straighter path, so it just happens faster. So that’s a ways to help is for sure things like preparation is very important from an introvert, because if I can think ahead of the meeting on some of these topic areas, I am now more readily available to sort of externally sort of communicate those. If you don’t prepare sort of for meeting properly with an agenda, topics, those kinds of things, what happens is in the meeting, then, rather than me ready and already have thought through some of these ideas, in the meeting, I’m actually doing all of that work, and it’s all internal, sort of inwardly focused. And so, like, preparation for the meeting is definitely probably the number one thing. Second of all, I also think if you are looking for input from an introvert, signaling that, again, either ahead of the meeting, or in the meeting, giving them enough time. And by time, it doesn’t need to be a lot. Enough time to process those thoughts and be ready to sort of express those. So I’ve had some really great extroverted leaders who we’ve worked and understood all of this, who again, would just, like, say a sentence or two, that again, gives me enough time to sort of process and be ready to speak. So it could be something like “Ryan, you’ve done a lot of work in this area, around A, B, C, and D. I think you’ve done some really interesting things, and we’d love to hear your opinion on that.” And that’s enough time for me to be like, oh, okay, ready, I gotta speak, and two, what is the topic, and then I’m ready to go. You know, sort of just saying something, and then assuming I would speak up, and then getting frustrated when I didn’t, but the whole time, I was thinking about what someone said before, or something like that. I didn’t… I didn’t pick up clues. So direct signaling like that can also help immensely.

Susan 18:38
I think that’s great. Are there any superpowers that you think introverts have that businesses really need to leverage?

Ryan 18:45
Yeah, I think for sure. I think what typically is happening – again, typically – is all of this internal processing is really actually valuable. So I call it, like, massive scenario testing. So if you ask me a question, typically – and I think most introverts do this – we will work out scenarios in our head, like, all the different variations before we almost communicate in some ways. And so what you have, typically, with an introvert is a very thoughtful response, because they’ve worked through in their own mind sort of all these scenarios, all these things that can happen, but you got to give the space and the time a little bit to get that value. Versus an extrovert is going to react very quickly, which again, has immense value as well. It’s just different ways, different approaches. But for sure, that ability to have this deep focused sort of thinking and processing is definitely one of our superpowers. There’s multiple superpowers, whether it’s… tends to be a little bit more empathetic. In many ways, again, because you’re put… You’re… You’re gonna put yourself in someone’s shoes, because you’re, that’s a scenario, and so one of the scenarios is how does that person view it and those kinds of things. So there’s definitely a lot of superpowers in what’s going on. I think the key is, how do you unlock it? How do you unleash it in a… really an authentic way, so that the introvert feels comfortable being who they are. And by doing that, you’ll get the full sort of power of the introvert versus a faked or what… what I think you want to hear, approach is less valuable. Maybe more visible, maybe more out there, but less valuable.

JoDee 20:44
Those are such great reminders for me, because I need to have that awareness more often – right? – to help them. At the top of the podcast, we shared four tips that Myers Briggs suggests to employers to unleash that power of introversion. What else might you add to the list? You… we just talked about a couple.

Ryan 21:10
I think the biggest one is reserving your judgment until you have really understood or… or thought out how to understand what is happening. So it could be as simple as, like, eye contact. As an extrovert, you know what’s sort of happening and why you create eye contact, and you apply all these assumptions to it, because that’s what you know. But lack of eye contact may not be disinterest, all those kinds of things that you associated with it. It could be that I needed to think and so… for some reason – I haven’t figured out why – I need to, like, focus somewhere else. Because if I’m focused on – maybe it’s the level of depth – if I’m focused on someone and trying to make eye contact, I will be really focused on that, not on the thought. And so, like, anywhere where you can reserve this judgment, before you understand what’s actually happening. It’s as simple as asking questions and not just making that sort of blanket assumption, I think is a real helpful tip.

Susan 22:16
I do too. So we’ve been talking about as employers what can we do, as business people what can we do. Well, what advice would you have for listeners who are introverts themselves?

Ryan 22:28
Yeah, I think understanding yourself is really critical. Knowing that you’re not alone in this. So that… that also can happen where you feel like this is very much you and not this broader sort of idea of this is introversion. It can feel very much like I have the problem. So knowing that you’re not alone, understanding yourself, and doing that hard work of… of what value you do bring and then exploring ways of how do you bring that out into the world that feels authentic to you, is some… some hard work that an introvert has to do. But if you do it, and if you gain that confidence in who you are and in the introversion itself and what you can bring to the table, you will add value many times over. Many times over.

JoDee 23:23
Make sense. Great advice. And Ryan, you know, we love to ask people about joy at work or in their lives. What brings you joy around this topic of introversion?

Ryan 23:40
Yeah, I think… I think the biggest joy I get out of it is maybe helping others not do some of the mistakes I sort of did in my career. And so too often I was trying to be extroverted, and honestly, you know, it can work in the short term, but over the long term did not work for me. And so any place, anytime, anywhere I can sort of help someone avoid some of those mistakes and bring their whole self and feel comfortable being who they are, is extremely, extremely rewarding and brings immense amount of joy to me.

JoDee 24:19
Love it.

Susan 24:20
Terrific. So Ryan, how can our listeners reach you if they want to explore this topic more?

Ryan 24:25
Yeah, I can be reached… probably on LinkedIn is probably the easiest way. And I’ve had various sort of questions, whether it’s specifically around introversion or forming associate resource groups or people-led teams or whatever word the organization use for groups around ITOPiA, I’m definitely here and willing to help anyone, because like I said, it’s not easy, and I wish I would have had someone to sort of ask some questions, and so I can definitely be that person for anyone sort of venturing into this space.

Susan 25:02
Well, thank you so much. We’re gonna put a link to your LinkedIn in our show notes. And in the… in our era of really want to have inclusivity, I just think this has been a great topic and appreciate so much your taking the time to visit with us today.

Ryan 25:14
Yeah, Well, Susan, JoDee, I appreciate it as well, because – not shocking anyone – this is not something we’re talking about. Again, the introvert is not sort of designed to talk about it. So you guys shining a light on it is helping get that sort of conversation going, which I think is the most important thing we can do. As soon as you’re aware, you have to intentionally sort of judge with with thought and consciousness instead of unconsciously sort of acting. And the first step is just having these conversations, which again, is not sort of, it’s not in our DNA, and so I think too often those conversations aren’t happening.

JoDee 25:54
Well, thanks again.

Ryan 25:56
Thank you.

Susan 25:57
For those of you who want to learn more, there is a podcast series devoted to the topic of introverts at work – it’s entitled “The Quiet and Strong Podcast, Especially for Introverts,” hosted by David Hall – that you may want to check out on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Ryan’s been a guest on that show as well. We will put that information in today’s show notes.

JoDee 26:18
Yeah, I think it’s… can be good, too, Susan, for people who are extroverts to listen to that information, as well. I know a few years ago, you and I both heard Susan Cain speak on her book called “Quiet,” which was about being an introvert as well, and I learned so much from that book and… and from her speaking, as well, too. It definitely was not just for introverts.

Susan 26:52
Absolutely. I think you’re right.

JoDee 26:55
You have a listener question today. Susan, I thought you would in particular find this one interesting. Our listener said, “What advice do you have for people transitioning away from full-time HR?” They went on to say, “I’m recently retired, but know I have more to contribute and I’m the at the most experienced and least personally stressful point of my life.”

Susan 27:23
Wow, I can really relate to that listener, because that’s exactly what I did. I… after 30 plus years working in human resources, I didn’t feel I was old enough to retire. I still had juice in me, and I wanted to still do HR, which I love, so I did start a consulting practice. And in fact, we’ve had a episode of the JoyPowered® Workspace talking about becoming consultants, JoDee’s experience and mine. But there’s other ways to do this. You don’t have to start your own practice. You certainly could use Upwork, U-P-W-O-R-K, dot com. It’s for freelancers, it’s a site where many organizations will go to if they’re trying to find somebody who can maybe do a project or work with them on a part-time basis for a period of time. It’s really, I think, a nice way to kind of put your toe in the water. You could be a contractor for an outplacement firm or an HR consulting firm or a recruiting agency in town. So often given where the labor force is at this point in time, as we’re recording this, there’s such a need for talent. And even if you can only give it part-time, you could be really attractive to that. So I wish you well, listener, we’d love to hear from you. Whatever you decide to do, we’d love for you to let us know. Good luck.

Susan 28:35
In the news, the 22 – the 2022-2023 SHRM State of the Workplace Report found that remote workers are happier than in-person workers if you gauge it by how they responded to the statement, “I’d recommend my organization to others as a great place to work.” In the workplace report, only 44% of in-person employees would recommend their organization, while 56% of remote employees would. I think that’s kind of telling.

JoDee 29:04

Susan 29:05
But then, historically recommending your place of employment as a good place to work had a strong correlation to employee retention, but that is not what the study found to be true here in 2023. Instead, 21% of in-person workers reported they intended to pursue a new job in 2023, where 30% of remote workers indicated they were intending on seeking a new role. Maybe remote work is not only making employees happier, but giving them the confidence to change jobs. I think it’s a trend you’re gonna want to watch.

JoDee 29:39
Yeah, interesting. I hadn’t thought about it that way. So thanks for joining us today and make it a JoyPowered® day.

Susan 29:48
Thank you. If you would like SHRM recertification credit for listening to this podcast, please visit You’ll find an evaluation of the podcast, and once you complete the evaluation, you will see the SHRM recertification credit code and a link to a proof of participation certificate. Again, that’s Thank you for listening and thanks for your dedication to the HR profession. If you liked the show, please tell your friends about it and let us know what you think by rating and reviewing us on Apple Podcasts.

JoDee 30:25
You can learn more about JoyPowered® at Check out The JoyPowered® Shop, where you can order our books, journals and other items that power our joy, at We’re @JoyPowered on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter and you can email us at

Susan 30:53
We hope you tune in next time, make it a JoyPowered® day.

Emily Miller
Emily Miller
Emily works behind the scenes at JoyPowered, helping to edit and publish the books, producing the podcast, and running the website and social media.

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