Are You a Big 5 Introvert? 3 Ways to Win Big in Your Career 

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The Big 5 Personality Traits

What Does A Low Extroversion Score Really Mean?

Time To Rethink Your Introversion

The Combinations That Define You

You Can Learn Social Skills

Three Winning Strategies For Introverts

1. Know Your Strenghts

2. Build Relationships

3. Create A Digital Presence


If you think you are an introvert, you may need to rethink what that means. The term has evolved from Carl Jung’s original definition in 1921 of how a person’s energy flows. According to Jung, our psychic energy can flow in two directions-into ourselves or out to the world.

Energy that flows inward is directed at our own thoughts, feelings, fantasies, and bodily sensations—introversion. In contrast, energy flowing outward is directed at external objects and/or people—extroversion. Galipeau, S. (2013). The Red Book and Jung’s Typology. Psychological Perspectives, 56(1), 34-49.

But The Big 5 personality traits don’t mention introversion. It refers to a scale of extroverted traits.

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The Big 5 Personality Traits

People’s personality differs by five major characteristics, or “Big Five.” Each of them reflects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. The Big Five traits are:

  • Openness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extraversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism

Each trait scores on a sliding scale from high to low. And each trait is influenced by the high or low affinity of the other four traits. So, first of all, your level of extraversion is influenced by your openness, conscientousness, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

So, just like Fred Rogers sang to kids for decades, “Everything grows together because we’re all one piece.”

Fred Rogers
For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on low extraversion, introversion, and how that trait relates to your career success.
If you’d like to take a few minutes to see how you score overall, you can take the Big 5 test.

What Does A Low Extroversion Score Really Mean?

According to the Big 5 a person with low extraversion has several social traits.

  • Prefers solitude
  • Feels exhausted when having to socialize a lot
  • Finds it difficult to start conversations
  • Dislikes making small talk
  • Carefully thinks things through before speaking
  • Dislikes being the center of attention

If your extraversion score is low, you’ll probably have a number of traits that set you apart. While you enjoyed spending time with others, you really get your energy from spending time by yourself. Spending too much time with others can leave you feeling tired and exhausted. Others describe you as thoughtful and quiet. If you find yourself the center of attention, you may feel uncomfortable.

Although you are not a social butterfly, you do a fantastic job building relationships with others. Rather than having many acquaintances, you tend to have a few friends who are very close to you. Some relationships you have with others last for many years.

Others may describe you as detail-oriented. You listen more than you speak, and you are thoughtful about whatever you say. When you are in a stressful situation, you always seem calm and level-headed.

In most cases, introverts work best in jobs that allow them to spend most of their day alone. When introverts are forced to spend too much time with others, they leave work exhausted. For introverts, the best jobs involve art, technology, or science: such as a photographer, laboratory worker, or computer programmer.

Time To Rethink Your Introversion

For 100 years, since Jung first posited the idea of extraversion, people have linked extraversion with sociability. This concept includes many related traits, including being talkative, sociable, friendly, gregarious, assertive, active, persuasive, and excitement-seeking.

But more recent research as reported in Scientific American, discovered the root of extraversion is not sociability but rewards. And that introverts are not necessarily introspective. And, in addition, just because someone is introspective doesn’t mean they are introverted.

The most common misunderstanding of the extraversion-introversion dimension is that introverts are more introspective than extroverts. In reality, introverts are not necessarily introspective and highly introspective people aren’t necessarily introverted.

If you think you are an introvert, consider the two key measurements from the new research: enthusiam and assertiveness.

Enthusiasm encompasses traits such as friendliness, sociability, self-disclosure, gregariousness, and positive emotion. This enthusiasm is primarily related to social affiliation. It goes beyond sociability to include positive feelings, more broadly, such as joy, exuberance, and excitement.

Being assertive includes leadership, dominance, provocativeness, activity, talkativeness, and persuasiveness. In the end, assertiveness is more about social status than about social affiliation.

asian woman reading documents on couch

The Combinations That Define You

Just like the high and low scores in the Big 5 traits, you can have more or less enthusiasm and more or less assertiveness, and vice versa.

The combination of traits means that introverts can do well in the workplace.

An introverted manager can hold team meetings and welcome corporate visitors but then they may need to be alone in the office to regroup.

An introvert who doesn’t speak up much in meetings, can rock a presentation to an audience of 100 because their material is organized and they can speak with assertiveness.

Rather than being an introvert, you may be an extrovert (enthusiastic and assertive) who is also highly sensitive. Maybe you realized that you are an extrovert who likes to daydream and think deeply about ideas. Perhaps you realized you aren’t an introvert who daydreams as much, or an introvert who is high on intellectual curiosity while still having a vivid fantasy life. Each of these cases is possible and many more.

You Can Learn Social Skills

In my years of mentoring both in the corporate environment and one-on-one, I’ve discovered you can teach yourself social skills. Skills you think you don’t have because you see yourself as an introvert are just skills you haven’t learned.

And before you practice your new skills in the work environment, you can learn to be at ease in your private life.

If you don’t practice the skills, you are doing yourself a disservice.

Watch the video to start practicing.

But a first step is shedding outdated and inaccurate notions of what it means to be an introvert.

people holding each others hands

Three Winning Strategies For Introverts

Once you understand the personality trait combinations of your low extraversion, you can concentrate on your strengths and how they contribute to your career success.

1. Know Your Strenghts

Focus on your skills and promote them. Instead of thinking of all the ways you are not an extrovert, shine the spotlight on your skills.

You decide which ones apply to your combination of traits. Then maximize their potential to help you advance your career.

Here are nine typical introvert skills:

1. Listening. Because you are not trying to be the center of attention, in a small group, you listen to each individual’s contribution. And in a large group, you can tune in on individual conversations.
Introverts can use this skill to keep meetings on track, redirecting conversations back to meeting agenda items.

2. Think Things Through. Because you think things through considering consequences, you are a prime decision-maker. The quickest solution may not be the most efficient or effective. You take the time to examine options and find a long-term solution.

3. Observant. You notice how people behave, what they say, and how they respond to suggestions. Because you observe what’s happening around you, you’re able to collate different opinions and formulate a group consensus.

4. Self-Aware. Introverts want to be taken seriously and are careful about how they portray themselves. It’s unlikely that you’ll make yourself or someone you work for embarrassed. You can represent your business in a considered manner that garners positive results.

5. Weigh Your Words. You think before you speak. You choose your words carefully. You’re carefully weighing your words in hopes of communicating something important.

6. Sensitive. You take your actions and the relationships you create seriously. You are likely to be in tune with those around you, understanding subtext and hidden meanings. Sensitivity is a great leadership skill because you are considerate of others’ needs.

7. Creative. Because introverts are highly experienced thinkers, they tend to be more creative. You’re constantly imagining and making connections. You create unique solutions others may not consider.

8. Independent. Introverts can be creative, as they can work hard on their own. While your preference may be to work alone, your contributions are valuable to the team.

9. Trustworthy. Because you tend to be more introspective and careful about things, you’re less likely to share other people’s secrets or corporate proprietary information. And because you value relationships and how you are perceived, you tend to be reliable and trustworthy.

10. Communicator. Just because you don’t speak up frequently at meetings doesn’t mean you aren’t a strong communicator. You’re gathering the material you arrange in a cohesive whole for a presentation. Your skill at thinking things through combined with creativity, makes you a great communicator. Your presentations are thorough, cover multiple facets, and lead to strong conclusions as a result of this skill. And those same attributes allow you to make speeches that hit home.

You may not try to be the center of attention, but practice displaying your skills at the workplace. You’ll find your introvert qualities contribute to your success and that of your business.

woman smiling at man

2. Build Relationships

You’ve heard multiple times that networking helps build your career. But for introverts, building relationships is your best focus.

The fact that you prefer more thoughtful bonds will help you build genuine and authentic relationships with co-workers and colleagues. For instance, at a conference you may not network and exchange business cards with 100 people, but you enter into seven conversations that lead to long-lasting connections.

When you carefully select your connections, you will have a greater chance of creating long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with people who appreciate your thoughtful manner and who deeply desire to help you reach your career goals.

You tend to be quiet and take in every detail of a situation. And when you do speak up, you can be very persuasive. Use your skills to develop those strong relationships that sustain your career success.

3. Create A Digital Presence

Create your personal brand on the internet. You can interact with people online without ever having to leave your room.

When it comes to promoting yourself business, the internet is a powerful tool. Not only that, but it’s also easy to use it to increase your personal reach and make others aware of your skills and expertise.

Your Website. Create a website about you. It doesn’t need to be fancy or cost you a large amount of money. A brochure website is an eye-catching and cost-effective solution you can use to promote your business skills and highlight your experience.

Your website is the space you own and control on the internet.

You can also publish quality content and share it in order to maximize reach and establish further credibility as an influencer in your field. Writing your fantastic ideas and thoughts for the whole world to read can do amazingly good things for your personal brand.

Share Your Publications. Your articles and presentations are worth sharing. Make the most of your articles and other content using a tool like authory. It scans the internet to put all your publications in one place.

And if you create presentations, be sure to share them on slideshare. Professionals search this site regularly for ideas, concepts, and knowledge.

And, be sure to link to these resources on your website.

Social Media. You don’t own the space on social media the way you do your own website but you can extend your reach, making people aware of your accomplishments.

And you can connect with people around the world from the comfort of your own personal space.
Professional social media like LinkedIn and Twitter also connect to the internet through search engines. Search engines can show your content as an answer to a query.

You can also publish quality content and share it with your social media followers, to gain additional credibility as an influencer. In fact, quality content will help you find new followers who like what you publish.

Don’t overlook your opportunities to share your wisdom and let the world know about your skills and experience by creating your own digital presence.

woman taking notes

Know Yourself, Emphasize Your Strenghts

Knowing yourself is the first step toward career success. Slapping a label on yourself—like introvert—and then trying to fit yourself into a mold that doesn’t apply and holds you back.

Psychology has evolved in the past 100 years. Evaluate your combination of qualities and traits. Think about how they positively affect not just your career.

With this self-knowledge, you can go beyond a label to focus on the way your strengths contribute to your current work environment. And, for the long term, how those strengths expand your conscious behavior to contribute to your long-term success.

You are more than just a theory. You are a complete human being with multiple qualities.
Create a habit of focusing on your combination of strengths, using them wisely to contribute to your current and future success.

Many people find an honest self-evaluation, isolating your traits and strengths, extremely challenging. At elevanation, we have years of working with professionals at every career stage to help them advance and create true and rewarding success.

If you want help getting started on the path to self-evaluation, schedule a free action call. We’ll set up a personal plan just for you.

Christian Pyrros