Author Susan Cain has written a book and recently given a TED talk on the strengths of introverts, and society’s current failure to take advantage of the skills they bring to our workplaces. In Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, Cain writes that we often assume introversion is connected to shyness or antisocial behaviour. She corrects that assumption, explaining that introversion describes the way a person responds to stimulation.

Introverts really are at their most energized when they’re in quieter, low-key environments, while extroverts need high quantities of stimulation to feel at their best. Introversion is not antisocial, it’s simply a preference to socialize in quieter ways.

At work, introverts would rather solve problems quietly, casually, one-on-one, and behind the scenes. Getting everybody in a department together and hammering it out with 10 people contributing ideas all at once is not a strategy well-suited to introverts.

Cain also points out that workplaces are being designed more and more for extroverts, with pods of desks, open floor plans, and no walls. Introverts function better in quieter environments where they are not constantly bombarded with distraction.