If you consider yourself to be shy, quiet, introverted, or anxious, you probably have experienced some difficulties throughout your professional life. Acing the employment application is easy, but it’s hard to stand out next to charming job candidates during the interview process. Plus, when you do land a job, it feels nearly impossible to get ahead when you’re in an environment with boisterous coworkers.

While you can work to overcome your shyness, being shy and quiet doesn’t have to be a bad quality. In fact, you can use your shyness to get ahead professionally. When you know yourself completely and learn how you work best, shyness won’t be a detriment to your career. Rather, you’ll be more productive, more confident, and you’ll stand out from the crowd.

Here’s how to use shyness to your advantage at work.

Choose a career path that works for you

First, if you’re able to, choose a career path that works for you. Choosing the right career and role that fits perfectly with you will allow you to perform to the best of your ability as well as be comfortable in the position. Obviously, someone who considers themselves shy may not want to get into sales. In a sales position you have to be able to talk to anyone and do it often — it’ll be more difficult to use your shyness to get ahead.  

But, there are a number of career paths that are suited perfectly for shy people, especially today when remote work is on the rise. According to a recent study published by CNBC, 70% of people globally work remotely at least once a week. Shy people can thrive in remote work. You don’t have to stand in front of a room and pitch ideas, but you’re also not completely isolated either due to video chat meetings and remote working tools for communication. With remote work positions such as a content marketer or a WordPress developer, you can work independently and allow the quality of your work to shine. You can even get into customer support remotely, helping customers solve their issues via live chat instead of in person or over the phone. Set yourself up for success by choosing a career path that is suited to your shyness.

Prepare in advance

Even if you’re not in a position that allows you to work remotely, you can still use your shyness to your advantage at work. One way is to prepare in advance. Preparing in advance will not only allow you to be more comfortable at work, but it will also give you the opportunity to get ahead.

So, if you’re anxious about being put on the spot during a meeting, prepare in advance. Do research on the topic, jot down a list of your ideas and what you want to say, and bring supporting documents to back you up. Doing this will allow you to feel more confident during meetings and it shows your employer that you’re thorough and dedicated to the task at hand.  

Contribute in your own way

You don’t have to be the loudest person in the room in order to be listened to and have your ideas taken seriously. But, you also can’t sit on the sidelines either. If you want to get ahead, you need to get noticed. If you’re shy, getting noticed can be difficult and also uncomfortable. Instead of shouting out during meetings though, you can contribute in your own way.

For instance, you can keep up-to-date with industry publications and share blog posts that are helpful to your team or subscribe to email marketing newsletters that will give you great tips to mention in conversations. Speaking of email, email is a shy person’s best friend. Rather than yelling out during meetings to make sure you’re heard, you can send an email directly to the person you want to share your ideas and expertise with.

Surprise people

One of the great things about being a shy and quiet person is that when you do speak up with a great idea, you can really surprise people. Surprising your coworkers and employers with your awesome insights is a great way to get noticed.

Plus, as a shy person, you don’t come across as particularly competitive, which allows you to fly under the radar. People won’t expect you to go for that promotion for instance, so that gives you the opportunity to work on your plans and projects quietly. Then, you can swoop in and shock people with your preparation skills and quality of work. If you can surprise someone at work, you’ll leave a lasting impression on them. Maybe they’ll even be so surprised that you’ll rise up the ladder quicker than you thought.

Form meaningful relationships

Just because you’re shy, doesn’t mean you have to be anti-social. Many people perceive shyness as anti-social behavior, but it’s important to prove them wrong by forming meaningful relationships at work. Oftentimes, shy people are better listeners. Use that to your advantage when cultivating work relationships. In conversations when a coworker feels like you’re actively listening to what they have to say, they’ll be more likely to return to you again when they need to vent or share some thoughts.

Also, remember to use non-verbal body language. Simply smiling and uncrossing your arms can make you seem more open and inviting to your coworkers. When you form meaningful relationships with the right people at work, you can experience growth both personally and professionally.

Shyness can be your secret weapon

Don’t let your shyness stand in your way, instead use shyness as your secret weapon. With these tips for how to use shyness to your advantage at work, you can stop being a wallflower and start standing out in your own way.