Introverts are a commonly misunderstood group of people. The media often portrays us as painfully shy, socially awkward misfits who find it difficult to relate to others, whether at work or in social situations.

This stereotype doesn’t exactly paint us as ideal workplace associates. And that’s too bad, because the truth is quite different.

Like extroverts – or basically any other group of people united by a common denominator – introverts exhibit a spectrum of behaviors. Our problem is rarely that we cannot relate to or connect with others – it’s more that our nature requires that we experience a certain amount of introspection and alone time for us to function at our best.

But beyond that, introverted people, though we come from all walks of life, tend to share a handful of often underrated characteristics that make us strong employees, coworkers, and partners.

  1. Introverts by nature spend a lot of time taking in the details of the world around us, which means we’re often quick learners. We can also be helpful partners when it comes to making decisions both small and large, because it’s likely we’ve considered all sorts of options – even a few that you might not have considered on your own – before coming to a conclusion.
  2. Many introverts enjoy spending time processing information before proposing a solution or taking action. Because of this, we can often surprise you by providing insights that you might not have thought of before. And who wouldn’t want a fresh pair of eyes looking for ways to improve or streamline your business practices?
  3. Introverts are less likely to spend a huge amount of time gossiping around the water cooler or waste too much time on social media. Introverts can definitely turn on the charm and form bonds with coworkers and customers alike, though we might take a little longer than others would, but our main focus is usually going to be on getting our work done well and on deadline.
  4. Introverts don’t normally need a lot of supervision to get our work done. We’ll communicate effectively and speak up when we need help, but managers will find that they won’t spend a lot of time steering introverts into giving desired results – many introverts will ask for what we need, when we need it, and return to the task at hand.
  5. Introverts can leave our emotions at the door in a meeting. Instead, we’ll listen to everyone and give even-keeled feedback on ideas. We are also less likely to get frazzled in the face of stressful situations, and can often deal with angry clients or customers in a relaxed manner.

In short, while extroverts certainly have an important role to play in any business, the introverted person is an often overlooked asset for a company. We won’t be the most outspoken member of the team or the life of the party, but underneath our quiet exterior is a collection of qualities that just might impress you.

Now that you know what introverted employees are capable of, let’s think about how they might benefit your company.

Are you looking to make a change in your business model but are too close to the process to see where to start? An introvert will pull back and take a look at the issue from all sides, and then come back with a few well-considered suggestions for improvements.

Does your company often handle urgent business that agitates you to the point of distraction? Introverts are good listeners with strong reasoning abilities who can help diffuse conflict.

Is there a component to your job opening that might benefit from a level-headed and calm voice of reason to help keep coworkers focused and motivated? In a gossipy or political business environment, an introvert could be the ideal candidate because we generally shy away from that kind of behavior. We may interact with a few select colleagues, but we will not be fanning the fires.

These are just a few situations introverts could handle with aplomb. So, the next time you’re facing a soft-spoken candidate, recognize that you might be sitting across from an introvert who may make a great addition to your team. Maybe your small business could use a few more introverts?