How Introverts Can Get More of the Income Pie

Study after study has proven that Extraverts make more money than Introverts. We’re not talking a few dollars either, but often tens of thousands of dollars more.

NPR recently cited a study begun in 1921 of 11-12 year-olds whose parents and teachers considered them to be Introverts. They were followed through 1991— that’s 70 years! — with their incomes noted every 5 or 10 years. The results were clear: Extraverts had considerably higher incomes every time. The group was mostly men, though, because more men than women were in the workforce during those years, and the men happened to have high IQs.

So other, more recent studies were done with men having average IQs; the results were the same. Women were studied too, with no change in results. Truity’s own research shows the same phenomena - Extraverts earn more than Introverts. 

What’s going on?

Why do Extraverts make more money?

It’s possible that more Extraverts than Introverts are choosing higher-paid careers. There’s not much you can do about that, as your salary is largely determined by market rates within your industry. But what if the Extraverts in the same sector or firm are earning more than you? 

When you think about it, there are valid reasons why Extraverts might outearn Introverts:

  • Extraverts are better at shouting “Look at me!!!” and getting attention for their accomplishments
  • They are less likely to be intimidated by management, and make their views known, which makes them more visible than their quieter, Introverted coworkers
  • Extraverts are less afraid to ask for raises, and due to their evident self-confidence, they are rewarded with more money.

We can’t say for sure that this is what’s happening. But there’s clearly something about the extraverted personality that wins them a bigger slice of the income pie.   

What can management do?

Saying these are valid reasons doesn’t mean it’s the way salaries and raises should be handled. And you’ll notice that none of them show that an Extravert is more productive or better at their job than an Introvert. In fact, the reverse may sometimes be true.

If you’re a boss, chances are you manage both Extraverts and Introverts. It’s good management practice to look beyond the surface and examine the work all your employees are doing, not just what they point out to you. The quieter Introverts are probably doing just as much work, or more, and doing it at least as well as the outgoing Extraverts.

It’s to your advantage to know who is doing what work, so your hard working, lesser paid Introverts don’t become discouraged and move on to where they feel more appreciated.

Introverts must advocate for themselves

If you’re an Introvert, don’t count on bosses stepping up anytime soon to recognize all you do! They’re busy worrying about the overall picture, productivity, and looking good to their own bosses. They have budgets to deal with, too, and they use the salary budget to keep as many people happy as possible.

You’ve heard the expression “The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” right? Bosses hear the squeaky wheels first because they make sure their wishes are heard. Not just once, either. Extraverts will not only ask for raises even when it isn’t raise time; they also have no problem poking their heads in the boss’ door to remind them of it again and again, perhaps adding more recent work to their list of accomplishments.

So bosses know who they need to give raises to, and usually how much each person is asking for. There is a finite amount of money to go around, so anyone who hasn’t asked for a raise may not get one, or will get just a small amount.

Introverts must do what Extraverts do: make sure those in charge know of their accomplishments and ask for what they want.

Never assume your boss knows what you have accomplished or how you’ve gone above and beyond to help the business thrive. Even if they once knew, they may not remember on their own.

Keep track of your successes

First, it’s important that you remember all you’ve done, including your successes that occurred months ago. Keep a running list of each accomplishment, starting with those that are part of your job description. Strive to finish every project on time or even early, and note the date each was finished, including benchmarks along the way if your job specifies them.

Include the “extras” you do, like each time you mentor someone officially or unofficially, projects you initiated or were put in charge of, ideas you had that were implemented, committees you joined and what role you played. Include the date of every item.

Be a joiner now and then

If you haven’t done these extras yet, start with just one. Most Introverts are not typically joiners, so being on a committee may not be in your nature. You’ll need to push yourself just a little, then, to join in on something you’re interested in or want to know more about. You’re not heading the committee or task force, you’re only joining.

Resist the temptation to skip the committee’s meetings. If, like many Introverts, you feel a panic attack or headache coming on just about meeting time, splash your face with cold water or go for a brisk walk, giving yourself an impromptu pep talk about how prepared you are to be seen and heard. You’re just as good as the others on the panel and better than some. Have some ideas of what you might talk about and jot down notes about them in case you need to refer to them.

Yes, it’s remarkable how many Extraverts can talk off-the-cuff without notes, but better to speak up with notes than not say anything at all. And if you stutter or stammer or make mistakes, so what. Next time you’ll do better, and each time you’ll become more comfortable. Extraverts make mistakes in speaking, too; they just take it in stride and are less likely to berate themselves about it.

Step up and take the lead

If you’ve already led other groups or projects, be sure to write every instance down with dates. If you have hesitated to lead, you’ll be surprised how much easier it is to do than you may think. Leaders don’t need to be loud and energetic. In fact, sometimes a calmer, quieter leader can put the group at ease.

Susan Cain, author of the book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, explained that Introverts make good leaders because they think first and talk later. They let others speak, and they listen to what others are saying.

You can’t think while you’re talking. So those Extraverts who talk so effortlessly aren’t thinking about those around them, while you are.

One of the upsides to being the leader is that you’re calling the shots. No one is going to pull the Introvert’s nightmare scenario: suddenly putting you on the spot by asking for your opinion. You have opinions, but you want to give them when you’re ready which, as the leader, you can do. You also control the dialogue, stopping — at some point — those who love to speak and letting the quieter group members contribute. You get to steer the conversation where you want it to go.

Then you get to record your leadership example, and how well it went, on your running list of accomplishments.

Learn new skills continuously

By continuing to learn how to do more in your job, you show that you are someone who wants to get better and to contribute more. But be intentional in what you choose to learn. What will help you be more productive in your job? What skills would enable you to ask for, and get, a promotion and raise?

Ask for what you want

You’ve laid the groundwork by taking initiative, joining where you can make a difference, and demonstrating your leadership abilities. You’ve continued to learn and grow. And you’ve kept a record of all you’ve accomplished.

Think anyone will notice? Not likely, until you point it out. Find out what Extraverts who do the same job are earning and ask for more than that in case your boss wants to negotiate. Plan what you’re going to say, take your list of accomplishments with you, and march into your boss’ office to make your pitch.

No one is asking you to become someone you are not. But, if you want to earn what you currently are not, you’ll have to step out of your comfort zone and be your own advocate. And guess what? Another study showed that Introverts were happier when they acted like Extraverts, even just for a little while.

You deserve your rightful piece of the income pie. You’ve earned it. So speak up and repeat it often until you get it.

Barbara Mellinger

Barbara Bean-Mellinger writes on business topics such as jobs and careers, marketing and advertising, public relations, entrepreneurship, education and more. Her articles have been published in newspapers, magazines, and on websites. She lives in the metro Washington, D.C. area and has recently taken up travel writing to highlight lesser-known sites in and around the capital.

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