Introverts and Extroverts : Can’t We Just Get Along?
They say that opposites attract. Maybe so, but at the office opposite personalities can make for some challenging situations. In any given work environment, there is a mix of introverts and extroverts, although no one is exclusively one or the other. Carl Jung said:
“There is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert. Such a person would be in the lunatic asylum.”
We’re all a mix of the two, with a few of us so mixed in our tendencies that we’re called ambiverts. If there is any one thing that differentiates the two ends it’s that extroverts get re-energized by being around people, whereas introverts get emotionally drained after being around people too much.
With a large variety of personality types to deal with, how does one cope and remain productive? Here are some guidelines to make it easier for introverts and extroverts to work together so that everyone benefits.
While it’s always dangerous to pigeon-hole someone, in general you might think of the typical introvert as more comfortable by themselves and less needful of being part of something bigger. They’ll usually find comfort in retreating to their desk or a good book. Warm fuzzies to them are more like cuddling up by a cozy fireplace on a cold winter night.
Below is a meme that’s been widely circulated on the internet. It gives a simple list of guidelines to remember when you’re dealing with the introverts in your life.
Again speaking in generalities, extroverts prefer to be engaged with others, and frequently are looking for opportunities to lead. They like social settings, avoid being alone, and seemingly have endless energy. They bypass the warm fuzzy and head straight for the big thrill. And here’s another meme to help you remember what makes them tick.
Introverts and Extroverts Working Together
To have a productive team, it’s essential that extroverts and introverts learn to work together. Just as you would when you first enter a room full of strangers, you’ll need to assess the others on your team to determine how they relate to others. Of course, don’t forget to assess yourself, too, because it’s a two-way dynamic!
You can do this by observation, by looking at body language, how they interact with others, and their style of communication. It won’t take much practice to begin to quickly and easily figure out their dominant way of relating. Or, you can use one of several personality preference identification tests, such as Insights’ Discovery.
Once you’ve gained these insights, remember that you’ll want to communicate with each person in ways that match their preferences, not yours. For example, if someone is an introvert, they’ll be more likely to appreciate communications via email rather than in person. Or, they’d rather hear from you alone rather than when you’re all in a group.
Human relationships will always require attention and fine-tuning to reach their highest potential. Since you’re spending about the same amount of time at work as you do with your significant other, it’s certainly worth the effort to make sure the gears are well-meshed and lubricated so the team machine hums along smoothly.
Main Paul Shanks