Engineering student wonders if his natural introverted personality will keep him from success

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This question is from an engineering student – doing great academically, but wondering if he should listen to those who keep telling him that he must work on his people skills in order to succeed.

I am a 19 yr.old guy studying engg.,my family members are also not much extroverted but since my childhood I have been advised to interact with people,make more and more friends and keep in touch with everyone. I have been scolded when missed talking to someone in a celebration or talking too ‘coldly’ to people .They tell me without this i would remain ‘socially awkward’ and would lag behind other ‘social guys’.They tell me important aspect of success is ‘how to manage people and get them to work in unison with u'(leadership).

how much does that count is my question to settled introverts. I have achieved great success in academics till now and made my way to very good college where success ratio is 1 in 200 without changing my nature but i have completely failed in social aspects (as my elders think) i asked because i want to do mba which means i should have teamworking and leadership skills. do you think this is not my cup of tea and i should rather take up some stereotyped job meant for introverts?

Photo credit: Lloyd Budd

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23 Comments

  1. I think that as an introvert, you can make almost any job work, as long as you understand your own limits/needs, etc.

    We all, in social situations, can sort of turn on (or turn up) the social aspects of our personalities as needed. Being introverted doesn’t necessarily mean not having social skills. There are plenty of extroverts with no social skills, after all. Being introverted simply means that while we can be social, it will eventually tire us out and we’ll need some down time to regain our social energy.

    So yeah, if getting your MBA and going into business/management is what you want to do, you absolutely can.

    BUT if you have no interest in interacting with people, why would you want to put yourself in a job/career where being successful does require you to interact a lot, and well, with people? Is that really what you want?

    • Exactly, Deb! Introverted does not mean lacking social skills, and in the same way, that extrovert at the party can often be a crushing bore in the eyes of everyone who comes into contact.

      I would also say that being introverted is not really an excuse for not developing social skills. Regardless of the world of employment, our lives are made up of the relationships we make with people. It is what creates quality of life. It is not good if people think you are talking coldly to them. At 19, there is plenty of time to develop confidence in interacting with people, but the sooner this skill is learnt, the less difficult it will be.
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  2. I left a great career minded job because I didn’t want to deal with people anymore. At the time i had second thoughts,but today it was oen of the best decisions I made.I was full of stress and the interaction was to much.Now I just work from home and love it.Thye can have that daily grind with all the fake people.
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  3. You should not let your being introvert to get in the way of success. You want to get an MBA, then go for it. Consider it as a chance to practice interacting with people and working with a team. Working with your team doesn’t mean you have to be an extrovert. Just focus on your studies and the tasks you’re working on. 🙂

  4. I am in some ways an introvert as well, I just hate social functions and for me, it’s just a way for people to gather and talk about other people behind their backs and how awesome their lives are compared to others. But for me, this is not the test of personality, you can still succeed even if you are an introvert. 🙂

  5. What do you define as success? How much you will be paid or how many promotions you get? My husband is an engineer (mechanical, which doesn’t matter except the work environment could be different for others, not sure). He’s not an extrovert, but he can manage in dealing with others. Frankly, the social aspect of his job is the least of his problems. The only times he feels frustrated on a “social” level at work is dealing with management because a lot of managers are extroverts. Luckily, this is limited. However, this can be a problem when it comes time to be evaluated as he found in the past, but this can happen to anyone due to personality conflicts that aren’t always a matter of introvert vs extrovert.
    I guess my answer for you is like everything in life, it just depends. There is no definitive answer for you. Almost every job requires that you interact with others to some extent. Engineers are no different.
    I do know from my husband that at least half of his engineering co-workers are introverted and no one has a problem with it-how can you? That’s how work is, pretty diversified unless you work at a small company. You’ll just have to find out what its like at each potential employers place of work. It’s a part of the interview, you can tell what is expected from an employer then.
    If you love engineering, then being introverted is not going to be a problem.

  6. I think there is no need to be desperate about you being an introvert. The chances are that when you get immersed in your work and when the situation demands, you are surely going to interact with your teammates. If it is any consolation to you, there are many examples of people who have been introverts turning to great extroverts with time.
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  7. I don’t think that anyone who need to develop their leadership and management skills should do MBA. Its not only the way to grow these skills and the Man should trust on himself only. Any other people cannot instruct you to be introverted.

  8. I believe that your professional success, as an introvert, depends on your career choice. And, to be honest with you, I think engineering – whether you’re at an entry-level position, or in middle-management, etc. – is actually one of those stereotypical fields where you don’t really have to be that gregarious or outgoing to flourish.

    Now, on the other hand, if you were a politician…
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  9. Well that is only the assessment of your folks but they don’t seem to know what is happening in your daily social life at school. Try to assess your self if socially you are trying to make some friends at school because they are right. You need to socially interact with everybody if you want to have a job that needs managing or supervising people.

  10. If you are good at this job – and it’s what you WANT to do, then do it! But some engineering jobs do require human interaction. Lol. I fall into a weird category, I grew up SUPER introverted but after getting into musical theater in high school I was lucky enough to get some really good friends and managed to develop a social life. But I still have a very introverted side and have to try and balance my social life with my social awkwardness. But since I know that becoming more social can be done I always try to support people who are introverted to work on getting out at least a little bit more. For no other reason than that it could make them happier. You don’t know until you try, maybe you’ll meet friends AND get the job of your dreams. Believe in yourself, don’t let this issue hold you back from what you’re good at!

  11. As far as I can remember, I started out as an introvert in school. But later on in my teenage years, I took a more extrovert personality when I reached Junior College, and never looked back.
    Being an introvert is not necessarily a disadvantage. Many people mistake introvert as being anti-social or averse to teamwork. On the contrary, some of the most effective teams I had the privilege of working with in my life consists of a mixture of both introverts and extroverts. Introverts can be very effective when they know exactly what their strengths are (e.g. drafting a lucrative business proposal, planning out a project, etc) . It is a given, that introverts can enhance their leadership skills by developing the skills that are normally associated with extroverts (e.g. public speaking, negotiation, sales pitch, persuasion, etc). They DON’T have to the best at them, they just need to have enough of those skills to get their job done. It can be counter productive however, when they try to hard, to the point that the person they are trying to become (or was told to be) is far different from their “natural” personality. Sure, we have heard of the once-fashionable saying, “Fake it Until You Make it”. But how long can a person sustain that before being labelled a Fake? Besides, the last time I saw a “dream team” of extroverts trying to deliver the “goods”, we had colleagues and customers complaining that the said team were more style than substance.
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  12. Its true that introvert doesn’t mean you are not fit for job or you will never perform well, this is not related to job. Yes I agree that sometimes people observe by the only way you talk. Now a days person who is over smart is counted as intelligent people in company.
    Introvert is ok but you should reply when its needed & if you work smartly & behave smartly no one will beat you anywhere

  13. If you’re an introvert it doesn’t mean that you’re not fit for an leadership job. Generally what happens people learn from surrounding environment and if you’re planning to do a MBA degree my suggestion to you would be go with it because the environment you will get during the course will teach you how to deal with different types of situation even if you’re an introverted person.
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