#Q&AwithJay: Dealing with an Extremely Introverted Supervisor

I received a question from Frank B. from Chicago on Facebook.   He asks:

"How do I deal with an extremely introverted supervisor?  His door is always closed, and when we have questions about work or need his approval for an assignment he makes us feel like we're disturbing him.  He's not really comfortable addressing the group, and sends requests and assignments mostly by email. I've never had a supervisor like this before."

Hi Frank, there are plenty of introverts out there in leadership, and most do a pretty good job articulating their expectations and communicating.   However, your supervisor sounds like an extreme case.   In addition to an extreme preference for introversion, your supervisor also sounds like he is uncomfortable in social situations.  With this being said, he will likely prefer to deal with his team from a distance. Here's some tips on how to co-exist with him:

1 .Come to Him with Solutions

If you have an issue that you need his guidance or approval on, come to him with a solution instead of simply asking for his advice.   It will be easier for him to approve or disapprove your suggestion than for him to have to think out a solution on his own.   From there, keep him updated on your progress.  If you're doing anything wrong, trust me he'll tell you. 

2. Silence is Golden

When working with an extremely introverted boss, silence is good.  Its important to remember that socialization drains introverts, so a manager with an extreme preference for introversion will likely be very selective about how often he or she engages others.  Your boss will ONLY interact with you when necessary. So if you'd don't hear from him, don't worry, its a good thing. 

3. Stop Seeking Validation

Don't get me wrong, we all need to know we're doing a good job.   It is well established that managers who acknowledge their team members' successes are more effective.   However, the reality is that your boss is not this type of manager.   For your peace of mind, I'd suggest you not look for a pat on the back for a job well done.  Try to find an internal motivator for your work, so that you're not dependent on your supervisor's praise or lack thereof.   Again, the key is remembering that someone with an extreme preference for introversion will only communicate when necessary.   If you approach your boss from that perspective, you'll be able to co-exist with him. 

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