Introverts and Extroverts in the Workplace

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Most office environments include a diverse group of people that are often lumped into certain categories.  Two categories that has been getting a lot of attention recently are “introverts” and “extroverts.”  For many people, an introvert is synonymous with a shy person and an extrovert is someone who is always outgoing; these perceptions are limited and not the full truth.

 

Introverts tend to recharge by spending time alone. They lose energy from being around people for long periods of time, particularly large crowds.

Extroverts, on the other hand, gain energy from other people. Extroverts actually find their energy is sapped when they spend too much time alone. They recharge by being social.

 

The definitions for introvert and extrovert are concerned with your level of energy.  If you re-charge your batteries by being around people, you’re more of an extrovert.  If you feel more re-charged after being alone, you tend to be an introvert.

It is highly unlikely that you (or one of your co-workers) are completely one or the other.  The truth is a bit more complex: most people are not fully introvert or fully extrovert, and the responses can change depending on a number of factors.  It’s unwise to assume a person who tends to by shy will never doing something outgoing, nor is it wise to assume a person who is always loud and outgoing at work must be an extrovert all day long. Most of us fall in the middle of the spectrum.

Source: Loner Wolf

 

Many of us do have tendencies one way or the other, however, and we can (and often do) lean more towards being an introvert or an extrovert.

 

Here are some things to consider when working with someone with introvert tendencies:

Respect their need and desires for privacy.

  • Never embarrass them in a public setting (some people are embarrassed with public praise).
  • When presenting them with new situations let them observe first.
  • Give them time to think, and don’t demand instant answers.
  • Try not to interrupt them.
  • Give then advance notice of expected changes.
  • Give them a 15 minute warning to finish whatever they’re working on.
  • Reprimand them privately.
  • Teach them new skills privately.
  • Don’t push them to make lots of friends.
  • Respect their introversion and don’t try to remake them into extroverts.

 

Some things to consider when working with people who have extroverted tendencies:

  •  Respect their independence.
  • Compliment them in the company of others.
  • Accept and encourage their enthusiasm.
  • Allow them to explore and talk things out.
  • Thoughtfully surprise them.
  • Understand when they are busy.
  • Let them dive right in.
  • Offer them options.
  • Make physical and verbal gestures.
  • Let them shine!

 

When it comes to working with others (or managing a team), there is no one-size-fits-all communication style. Introverts and extroverts both require different approaches and contribute different skills.  Consider this breakdown from Women Empowering Business:

 

Introverts

What they prefer: An introvert may prefer to spend time reflecting on decisions or judgments; may like to think a bit before responding with thoughts or ideas; prefers a quiet workplace; and may prefer more direct, “to the point” communication rather than chatter.

How to communicate: An introvert will appreciate communication in writing, giving them more time to think about information and reflect. Give an introvert more time to examine and information-gather rather than pushing them to “catch up” with the extroverts. Allow an introvert opportunities to work by themselves on projects, if possible.

What they contribute: An introvert will be great at paying attention to details and really thinking about a problem. They will think through and reflect on any assignment or project they are given to come up with the best possible solution.

 

Extroverts

What they prefer: An extrovert is much more verbal with their emotions and ideas and are the first to volunteer them; enjoy group office gatherings and social workspaces; welcome more roundabout communication; and prefers to brainstorm in a group rather than make decisions introspectively.

 How to communicate: Give an extrovert opportunities to volunteer their ideas and opinions. Encourage an extrovert’s “go go go” mentality and allow them to move with ideas as they develop. Allow extroverts to work in teams and brainstorm.

What they contribute: An extrovert has undeniable energy and enthusiasm that is motivating to others in the workplace. Their sociable, fast-paced work style will encourage creativity and keep people ahead of schedule.

 

Most workplaces will have a mix of introverts and extroverts in them, and their differing work styles can cause confusion, frustration, or even conflict.  Carefully identifying your own tendencies and the tendencies of others, learning about your differences, and discussing those differences openly can create of space that welcomes creativity, respect, change, and loyalty.

 

At Barrister Executive Suites, we strive to provide the right environment for any style of working. We offer quiet and private offices for those with introverted tendencies who may prefer to work in solitude.  We also offer communal spaces where extroverts can be productive and can enjoy interacting with your fellow tenants. Let us know what you need – we have the right space for you!