Extroverts and Introverts: Differences in Work Style and How to Manage Them

Extroverts and Introverts

 

 

 

Humans are an interesting breed. Each of us have unique personalities and traits that are a combination of our genetic makeup, our surroundings, and how we were raised. Our methods of communication and work style are no different and reflect our personalities.

We tend to fall into two generalized categories: extroverts and introverts, though most of us rank somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Where we fall into that spectrum dictates how we are motivated, how we interact socially, and how we manage others. From a business perspective, understanding and addressing these differences can make the difference between having a highly engaged workforce, and one that has constant turnover!  As mentioned in my article on cultural interviewing, understanding who you are (and who your employees are) will make a significant impact on your workforce – and who remains engaged.

 

First of all, let’s talk about some common traits of both the extrovert and the introvert. Everyone thinks they know the difference between the two personality types:

 

  • Extroverts: are talkative and outgoing
  • Introverts: are quiet and private

 

The Huffington Post even posted an infographic on the two personality styles here. For the most part, that’s true, but since each of us possess traits that sit somewhere on the personality spectrum, one size does not fit all.

 

 

The truth of the matter, however, is that each personality is stimulated and motivated differently. They are each energized by different circumstances. Extroverts tend to be energized by being around others and interacting. Introverts, on the other hand, need some degree of solitude and a quiet environment to energize and recharge. These key elements dictate how each individual will react in the workplace.

 

For this reason, managers need to be extremely aware of both themselves, and the employees they are managing. Not recognizing the preferences of each personality type could prove to be a critical error. Employee recognition and promotion also need to take personality traits into consideration.

 

Both Extroverts and Introverts Can Make Great Leaders

 

When choosing your leaders, it is important to consider some strengths that come with each personality type. Depending on the position, there are qualities that make both introverts and extroverts effective and successful leaders:

 

  • Extroverts: never know a stranger! They tend to be very interactive with customers, other leaders, and their staff. They communicate well and often. They typically possess high energy levels. These can all be great leadership traits – for the right role. There are times, though, when their large personalities can be overwhelming to others.
  • Introverts: often have an impressive power of concentration! They are detail-oriented, produce well-thought-out work, and have a realistic view of both their abilities, as well as the abilities of others. They can prove to be a great buffer or diplomat in tense situations.  Many introverts also opt for flexible working conditions for this reason.

 

What are some items to consider when working with different personalities in the workplace? Here are some basics to remember, organized by dominant personality traits:

 

Introverts

Extroverts

  • Let them observe new situations before requiring participation
  • Let them dive right in if they are ready
  • Don’t interrupt them – give them the floor when speaking
  • Understand when they are busy
  • Don’t embarrass them in public
  • Compliment them in public
  • Give them time to process new information
  • Respect their independence
  • Reprimand them privately
  • Offer options
  • Don’t force interactions and “friendships” in group projects – allow the person to warm up slowly
  • Allow them to talk things through
  • Give advance notice of expected changes
  • Surprise them in a thoughtful manner
  • Respect the person’s privacy/introversion
  • Accept and encourage their enthusiasm
  • Allow them to shine in their own way
  • Allow them to shine in their own way

 

 

Conclusion

Regardless of your industry you are in, if you have employees, you are going to have differing personalities. Understanding how they “refuel” or energize, and encouraging those behaviors will equal a cohesive work environment and greater productivity among your team.

For additional resources on this topic, please check out the following books:

Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain

The Genius of Opposites:  How Introverts and Extroverts Achieve Extraordinary Results Together, by Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, PhD

Introverts and Extroverts in Organizations – The Importance of Understanding Both Personality Types, by Louis Bevoc

 

Introverts and Extroverts

 

by Natalie Lemons

Natalie Lemons is the President of the Resilience Group, LLC, and the author of The Resilient Recruiter. Please follow her blog for more articles like this, plus helpful free downloads for recruiters, HR professionals, or those starting a Recruiting business or blog.  Resilient Recruiter is an Amazon Associate.

 

 

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12 thoughts on “Extroverts and Introverts: Differences in Work Style and How to Manage Them

  • Its very valuable when working with others to approach different personalities in different manners. What I enjoyed most about this article is that is spelled out the best approach for extroverts as well. I find we typically take more care in approaching introverts and just assume approaching extroverts is easy.

  • This is such a rich and useful post. As you said, understanding personalities is so important. This can really make the difference between a successful encounter and one that is decidedly not.

  • Interesting article Natalie that I pinned. Visiting from We Are Pinnable All Saints Party and Glad I did. My post this week is “Use Indigo and the Third Eye Chakra to Increase Intuition.” Perhaps my tips will help you enhance your sense of well-being.

    • Thank you, Nancy! I definitely will – I love reading about the Chakras! I appreciate you visiting :).

  • Nice article Natalie. I have read Bevoc’s book and Cain’s book, but I will have to get a copy of Kahnweiler’s. As an HR person, I really thought Bevoc broke down the two personality types clearly. He made it easy for our younger employees to understand the key attributes of each…and your article does a good job expanding upon Bevoc’s discussion.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      Thanks so much! Understanding personality types in the workplace is such a critical skill for HR professionals AND managers. It really should be required training! I am so glad you enjoyed it!

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