INTROVERTS VS EXTROVERTS IN THE WORKPLACE
“Everyone shines, given the right lighting” – Susan Cain
People are generally classified into two different personality types, either introverts or extroverts. Introverts are generally quiet individuals who tend to enjoy alone time and can be shy. With extroverts being social butterflies, they tend to be very confident and love busy, social situations where they can talk a lot and get to know new people. But as Susan Cain said: “Everyone shines, given the right lighting.’’
The ways that introverts and extroverts behave in the workplace can really differ. It can be difficult to know how to manage both personality types, especially when they need to work closely together in a team.
Extroverts generally thrive and feel energised when they are working in a busy and loud environment. However, introverts enjoy the exact opposite; they love being in a quiet environment to get their work done. So, don’t be surprised if they want to go off and find a nice spot in the office to sit down and get on with their work – it’s where they will feel most comfortable and do their best work. If you have an employee who is a bit of an introvert then let them have their privacy every now and then. A lot of introverts are sensitive to external factors such as noise, which can mean they often find the loud office space draining and can find it hard to concentrate.
Research has shown that in meetings with six people, two people will tend to do more than 60% of the talking. Extroverts will happily speak up during a team meeting, as this is what comes naturally to them. They tend to feel most comfortable in meetings when they’re giving their opinion. On the other hand, introverts tend to keep quiet during meetings. This doesn’t mean they have nothing to say, usually it means they’re just taking in as much information as possible. They may need a prompt to give them a chance to speak up and voice their opinion.
Extroverts tend to respond quite well to changes, whether this is involving their work life or their personal life. They find it easy to adjust and adapt to new ways. Whereas introverts can find change terrifying due to not knowing what to expect and not wanting to feel awkward in certain situations. If you’ve recently hired someone who you may think is an introvert, then try and give them as much information as possible before they start the role. Or if you’re introducing a new system at work maybe give those who are introverts a bit more time to get used to the programme.
Introverts tend to be more reserved in social situations in the workplace especially when meeting new people. So, to help them, try and firstly introduce them to all of their
co-workers in the office and encourage them to sit with other people, as this will be a chance to get to know everyone. Extroverts, on the other hand, are quite happy and comfortable to introduce themselves to new people. They will have no difficulty in finding new friends at work and will quickly start opening up to them.
Is it fair to define the whole population by 2 different personality types however?
Well, the short answer is no. Those who can see themselves identifying with both personality types are known as the Ambiverts. We’re all humans at the end of the day and in some situations that shy introvert you see sitting on their own in the office could be the life and soul of a party. Equally the extrovert you see around the office may be completely different outside of work. Ambiverts tend to adjust depending on the situation they’re in. When they believe the time is right they will speak, but they also know when they need to sit back and listen to what’s going on.
Can introverts and extroverts work together well?
The answer is yes! As both personality types are opposites, and the strengths of an extrovert are usually the weaknesses of an introvert and vice versa. This means they can both be productive whilst they’re working together. The co-founders of ‘In Good Company’, a community business learning centre for women in New York, Adelaide Lancaster & Amy Abrams are an example of an extrovert – introvert team. In an article by Psychology Today, Lancaster explains that her co-worker Abrams can excel in areas that make her personally feel anxious, showing introvert – extrovert teams could be the way forward in bringing out the best in each other.
How can you manage them both?
Make introverts feel as though they are comfortable enough to speak up; at first this may mean asking their opinions on certain topics so that they feel like their opinion is valued within the company. This will mean that the next time they have a bright idea, they will feel like they can come to you and their opinion will be appreciated. However, also encourage the extroverts within your organisation to really listen to what the introverts are saying so that they can learn something new. After all, ‘teamwork makes the dream work.’