2 Important things introverts and extroverts can learn from each other in the workplace

February 15, 2019 / Networking

There are currently 7.7 billion people in the world. So, it’s a tall order to expect everyone to get along. But understanding more about what makes different people tick goes a long way in smoothing relations. Especially as soft skills will be the essential skill for the future-ready business.

Extraversion is one of the Big 5 Personality traits. It determines how sociable a person is. Extroverts are more outgoing, talkative, energetic, and seek the company of others. Introverts are more reserved, reflective, and prefer time alone. Both personalities have their pros and cons in the workplace. This means one personality’s strength can compensate for the other’s weakness. It just takes a little understanding. Additionally, extreme introversion or extroversion is rare. In fact, most people have traits of both. So, the trick is knowing when to subdue your dominant trait, and when to develop your weaker traits. Here are 2 important things (mostly) extroverts can learn from (mostly) introverts. And vice versa:

1) When to speak up. And when not to.

extroverts vs introverts
Both extrovert and introvert traits bring important things to the table.

Introvert traits
Introverts don’t often volunteer information. They prefer to puzzle over things themselves. Even when they have the answer, they might not readily share it. Much of their time is also spent on self-reflection. This gives them a good understanding of themselves, and their own strengths and weaknesses. However, introverts can take a page from the extrovert’s book, and speak up more.

How to get the best from introverts

Introverts may not contribute much during a group brainstorm, but they should be asked to attend. This gets them used to being in the presence of others. And while they might not admit it, something someone else says might spark inspiration. Now give the introverts time to think. Don’t push them for an opinion immediately. Encourage them to share their views when they’re ready. Introverts will often seek a trusted person to talk to first. If the trusted person is more extroverted, they can ‘warm up the crowd’ for them. The introvert’s audience size must be increased gradually.

As an introvert, know that your opinion is valuable. You’ve likely thought of something the group-mind hasn’t. But that won’t help anyone unless you share it. So, speak up when you have something to say.

Extrovert traits
Extroverts prefer to work in a group. They bounce ideas off other people and get stimulation from having others around. If they have the answer, they’re happy to share it. They also want to hear everyone else’s opinions. Extroverts have a good understanding of other people. What the extrovert can learn from the introvert, is the value of silence.

How to get the best from extroverts

To start, let the extroverts do what they do. Let them make everyone feel comfortable and get the discussion started. After all, extroverts love talking. Note all the good points that are raised. Then compile a list of problems or concerns to be solved. Have the group break into smaller discussion groups, or work alone, to solve these. During the initial discussion, the extroverts will do most of the talking. But during the feedback session, make sure everyone has a say. The important thing is not the amount of time each person speaks for. The important thing is that each person is heard. And their opinion is given equal weight. And due consideration.

As an extrovert, you don’t like silence. But silence is important for several reasons. Firstly, it gives everyone time to think. Secondly, if you listen, you might learn something new. Thirdly, if you’re not careful, you might say more than you intend to. This is not only unprofessional, but detrimental in sensitive business negotiations. So, don’t let yourself take over the conversation. Learn the value of keeping your peace.

2) When to ask for help

working with extroverts and introverts
Recognising the different personality types in your teams will allow you to make them more collaborative and cohesive.

Introvert traits
Introverts tackle things on their own. They mull things over in their heads from every angle. This gives them a good understanding of the problem. But it’s also very time consuming. Introverts need to learn to ask for help.

How to get the best from introverts

Introverts need time alone to think. But they may stubbornly chew on a problem long after it’s become unproductive. So, when they’re stuck, they should be encouraged to seek help. Help should be offered periodically. Let the introvert know everyone has faith in them. But at the same time, people are on hand to help.

As an introvert, you shouldn’t be too proud or stubborn to accept help. If you’re holding up the project, or in danger of missing deadlines, or causing yourself massive stress – get help. Teamwork is not a dirty word.

Extrovert traits
Extroverts don’t like tackling things alone. Left in the vacuum of their own thoughts, they’re bored, lonely, and understimulated. But extroverts sell themselves short when they bring other people in too soon. Extroverts should give themselves time to really think through a problem. Or try their hand at tackling something themselves. They may be capable of more than they think.

How to get the best from extroverts

Extroverts need stimulation from other people. So, give them someone to bounce ideas off of initially. Then ask them how they would tackle the problem themselves. This forces them to think deeper about the problem. And about their own skills. Only once they have a good idea of what they’re personally capable of, should they be allowed to bring in their team. Extroverts have a great knack of inspiring teamwork. But if work is distributed across too many people, each individual has less chance to shine. As the saying goes: too many cooks spoil the broth.

As an extrovert, know that you’re very capable yourself. You don’t always need backup. Teamwork is great. But so is the satisfaction of getting something done yourself.

Both extrovert and introvert traits bring important things to the table. But each is very different in terms of communication and interaction. That’s why they must meet each other halfway. A good balance of personal effort and teamwork will ensure that each individual can contribute to their full potential.