“Don’t be shy.” For some of us, that’s easier said than done. But being an introvert doesn’t have to stall your career.
Introverts have – ironically enough – been receiving heaps of attention and publicity lately. Ever since American author Susan Cain published the popular 2012 work, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, the media hasn’t stopped talking about introverts and, in particular, their challenges in the corporate world. For those with jobs in finance and accounting, and especially those who fit the popular stereotype of accountants as wallflowers, being a little shy or timid can at times feel like a real disadvantage. For example, you may feel that you lose out on clients or opportunities to your more aggressive or outgoing counterparts.
Luckily, being a social butterfly isn’t necessarily a condition of success. By learning a few simple strategies, and indeed, using your introversion to your advantage, you can still excel in your accounting job.
Take time out for yourself every day
Know your limits – and your strengths. Introverts draw their energy from solitude and quiet, as well as from socializing one-on-one or in small, intimate groups. An accounting job that requires frequent meetings with clients and colleagues will therefore easily drain your batteries (especially if your job is like most, and there are too many unproductive meetings for you to attend).
Introverts draw their energy from solitude and quiet, as well as from socializing one-on-one or in small, intimate groups.
To avoid always feeling depleted, steal a few moments for yourself throughout your workday at your accounting job. Spend some quiet time solo, or with a close friend. Activities like going for a walk around the block, having a coffee with a colleague or even your office “spouse” at a nearby café, or calling a trusted friend or family member, can all help you refuel for your remaining social obligations. Having plenty of gas left in your tank will ensure that you excel when you’re called upon to meet and socialize with others – for example, if your co-workers feel like going out for drinks after a long day of work.
Volunteer for tasks that suit you
When you’re an introvert at an accounting job, certain tasks, like delivering a presentation or meeting with prospective clients, can be extremely daunting. Addressing an audience can faze even the most confident, outgoing individuals, never mind the shrinking violets among us; it may pay, then, to actively work on your public speaking skills.
You can also try to compensate for the aspects of the job you’re likely to struggle with, by volunteering for those you know you can thrive at. For example, you may not be a great public speaker, but maybe your above-average writing skills – of increasing importance for accountants – can be put to good use in preparing a report. Volunteering for such work will very quickly put you in the good books of your supervisor and co-workers at your accounting job. It will also show everyone that just because you’re naturally quiet, shy, or withdrawn doesn’t mean you’re not an enthusiastic team player.
Have no shame: own up to being an introvert
It’s easy to misread introverts. People who are by nature shy and reserved are often mistaken for being unfriendly or aloof.
Show everyone that just because you’re naturally quiet, shy, or withdrawn doesn’t mean you’re not an enthusiastic team player.
It may seem reasonable, then, to force yourself to be louder or more outgoing. But pretending to be something you’re not at your accounting job can make your colleagues anxious and uneasy around you; it may even get the rumour mill going – something for which you definitely don’t want to provide fodder.
Instead, you should own up to being an introvert. Tell your colleagues and supervisors at your accounting job that you are naturally quiet, or shy (or both). Explain that they shouldn’t mistake your introversion for a lack of interest or rudeness. By warning people about this upfront, they will be far less likely to regard you as judgmental or rude. Stay tuned for Part II of our tips on how to succeed in your accounting job as an introvert!
Let us know what you think! At Clarity Recruitment, we’re always interested in hearing from accounting and finance professionals like yourselves, who are ready for new, exciting opportunities that can take their careers to the next level. And be sure to follow us on Twitter (@clarityrecruits) and connect with us on Facebook for more great tips and advice!