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  • Writer's pictureChristine Kix

Modern Office Culture is an Introvert's Worst Nightmare

Updated: Jan 4, 2022


The office air is filled with the sounds of phones ringing intermittently, the periodical dinging of elevator doors opening and shutting, employees chit chatting about the past weekend, and the mechanical sounds of the copier in the corner spewing out pieces of paper. There’s a sense of urgency as workers hurry to get to wherever they need to be. Staff in fishbowl meeting rooms stare at PowerPoint slides cast onto big screens, and when you open your calendar, it is patterned with blocks of time reserved for meetings throughout the day. This is what stepping into the office on a Monday morning is like. Some welcome the constant hum of activity and busyness of the office–we call these people extroverts. However others, like myself, feel as though an assault has been launched on our senses. We are the introverts.

Dictionary.com will tell you that an introvert is, “a shy person,” or “a person characterized by concern primarily with his or her own thoughts.” Sounds like the dictionary is trying to call us timid narcissists, which does not vibe well with me so I’ll refer, instead, to the characteristics of introverts described by Susan Cain in her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking:

Introverts feel ‘just right’ with less stimulation, as when they sip wine with a close friend, solve a crossword puzzle, or read a book… Introverts often work more slowly and deliberately. They like to focus on one task at a time and can have mighty powers of concentration. They’re relatively immune to the lure of wealth and fame… [they] may have strong social skills… but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.

Understanding these characteristics of introverts makes it easy to see why introverts would have a harder time functioning optimally in today’s typical office culture. Take for example, open plan offices (or as I like to call them, open to distraction offices), where everyone can hear everyone’s phone calls and conversations, and people feel like they can stop by any desk whenever. I get the appeal of the open plan concept: companies want to save costs and also allow employees to seamlessly work together, but from an introvert’s perspective, the openness creates way too much stimulation to get things done efficiently...

Excerpt from post originally published on Madame Noire.

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