Introverts on the Job: At Risk of Burnout?

Introverts on the Job: At Risk of Burnout?

Introverts on the Job

It seems like everyone is talking about introversion and extroversion: how to present powerful ideas, how to communicate, and how to help them work together. While each personality type has its strengths, our world — with its focus on interconnection and near-constant communication — is clearly built for the extrovert. According to Michael Godsey, writing for The Atlantic, this can have catastrophic effects on introverts working in extroverted workplaces, especially teaching. These effects can include one of the worst behavioural workplace evils: burnout.

Godsey writes of his own experience, and of teachers who left the profession mere years after they started in it, after the dangling carrot of quiet nights in marking papers had been replaced by the stick of taxing “professional learning community meetings” and “collaborative overload.” There was support, but the wrong kind for Godsey:

“[T]he district assigned to me a mentor to help orient me — he took me out to coffee, and we just talked about good literature and lesson ideas for an hour. The principal, visibly flustered that we didn’t observably ‘do anything,’ assigned me a new mentor who, among other things, encouraged me to divide my class into cooperative groups and then share the results with my department and administration. The implicit message seemed to be similar to what [fellow teacher Ken] Lovgren said explicitly: ‘A calm and focused teacher is suspected of underworking, and so everybody, regardless of their personality type, is expected to work constantly in groups.’

While teaching can be especially exhausting, Godsey’s tale can be extrapolated to any workplace where an introvert might be in over their head. Did you get bone-tired simply reading the above quote? Well, you may be an introvert, and as such, chances are higher your job may not be the best one for you.