Introvert at work

I’ve known for a long time that my personality type had a lot to do with why I find as much satisfaction as I do in a job that I would have once thought I would find terribly boring. As an ISTJ, I am an “Inspector” by nature.

ISTJs function well in jobs requiring accurate record keeping of facts and figures. They are the enforcers of law, policy, procedure, schedules and principles.

So my work enforcing company policies and procedures for software change management is a good fit, even if the content of the work has little inherent interest for me. (I review documents regarding such topics as how fields in one document map to fields in another, the reason for increasing the size of a field to prevent job aborts, evidence that the spelling of a name has been corrected, and instructions to change the timing of a job from 1 AM to 2 AM.)

Likewise, in my work in procurement, as I process purchase orders and invoices and maintain the asset database, I get the satisfaction of making sure everything is in order and (internal) customers receive what they need on a timely basis (as long as they provide the requisite information and approvals). I actually enjoy this second area of work more, because the practical benefits of my work to my co-workers are more visible.

I knew that I liked working alone, in a relatively quiet environment, because of being an introvert. I have been surprised how well I have adjusted to sitting at the front desk, where I interact with a lot of people over the course of a day. (I sign for packages, direct visitors to various conference rooms, tell job applicants what website to use, make change when the change machine is broken, show people where to find office supplies, prepare outgoing packages for shipment, etc.) Those interactions, however, are relatively short in duration and I quickly go back to my solitary work.

Given that I have been enjoying the interactions I do have in that position, it surprised me to realize today that my tiredness the past few days probably has been from spending so much time working with a new co-worker. I like her as a person and she has been learning quickly how the procurement system works. (Due to our boss being busy with meetings, I have been showing her how things work.) Yet as I explain what I am doing or answer questions on what she is doing, I find my mental train of thought constantly derailing.

I don’t normally have that much trouble keeping my mind focused unless I am seriously short on sleep or I’m sick (but refusing to go home due to that ISTJ sense of duty to complete my allotted tasks). Coffee doesn’t help. I can do what I need to if I just do it and don’t talk about what I’m doing, but my normal ability to multitask seems to have evaporated.

I do fine working with other people for brief periods of time. I enjoy participating in Toastmasters, I do fine in meetings of our workgroup or informal discussions with co-workers to deal with various issues. But as I think about it, I can’t remember the last time I spent the majority of a workday working directly with someone else, prior to this week. I knew that, as an introvert, I found social situations tiring. But I never thought of showing a new co-worker how to do things as a social situation.

Tomorrow our boss will have time to spend doing training, and I will work on getting caught up on a backlog of lower priority tasks. And on making sure my mental train stays more or less on track.

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