If you were to ask a group of extroverts to list the qualities of an introvert and extrovert, the list would probably sound something like this:
Extrovert – Out-going, talkative, friendly, asks questions, likes to work in groups, personable…
Introvert – Quiet, reserved, introspective, guarded, likes to work alone……
An introvert’s list might look something like this:
Extrovert – Aggressive, loud, verbose, speaks before thinking
Introvert – Soft-spoken, thoughtful, careful, thinks before speaking, likes all the facts
Put both lists together and you probably have a good list of qualities of introverts and extroverts. In the workplace, what’s more important is how we relate and work with different types of personalities. When we make broad generalizations like this, the tone and our behavior may seem angry. There are a few things that can help introverts and extroverts work better together.
Extroverts need to slow down when communicating with introverts. Providing them with as much information as you can prior to your conversation or meeting can help them prepare and feel more comfortable expressing themselves when you are together. Particularly in big meetings when you are not one-to-one, don’t expect to get your feedback immediately from an introvert. They like to take time to process their thoughts. Unlike an extrovert, they don’t think out loud. You may receive more significant feedback from introverts by allowing time for them to process their thoughts and providing a vehicle for communicating electronically, after the meeting. When decisions have to be made right away, though, Introverts must learn to assert themselves and speak up about insights they have even if they have not had a chance to flesh out the final version of the concept in their mind yet, or they risk the chance of missing out on having their ideas ever heard.
Introverts should understand that extroverts have a basic need to speak and sometimes their thoughts are not completely hashed out. Introverts should feel confident asking questions because this actually helps the extrovert get his or her thoughts together and helps the team make better decisions. If you are a manager or team leader, it’s important to recognize the contribution each team member brings to the table; and it’s your job to make sure each is heard. Know who is who in the group and delegate assignments that each will excel in. Let the extroverts lead when you have to communicate your needs and successes outside the team. Let the introverts lead on projects that require real attention to detail. If you want to see where you fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum, check out this link from “Quite: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” by Susan Cain.
Thoughts…….. Contact me at abbe@TECResourceCenter.com
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