Communicating Effectively with Introverts and Extroverts

Posted by on August 21, 2018

As communicators, we all know that different target audiences require different messaging and communication styles. Just as important? Communicating effectively with members of our own company, whether they’re introverts, extroverts or somewhere in between.

The best analogy I’ve read regarding the main difference between the two comes from this article. In it, the author makes the distinction clear—and it has nothing to do with how much either type likes people or how “shy” they might be. Rather, the hallmark differentiator lies in how each group recharges.

The author tells us to think about it in terms of different types of batteries: Solar-powered batteries—extroverts in this example—are energized from being in the sun all day. They gain juice and life the more they’re out and about. On the other hand, phone batteries—aka introverts—become drained after too much activity, triggering the need for a reboot once they get home.

For extroverts, being around people and socializing fuels their energy—while being alone depletes it. The opposite is true for introverts.

While most people won’t fall into either category neatly, we often lean toward either introversion or extroversion. Where you fall on the spectrum, however, can vary greatly. Remembering the strengths of each personality type is key to bringing out the best in your team. Below are just a few things that each group brings to the table, mixed in with some tips on how to best work with both types.

First, we look at the introverts:

  • Quiet reflection is a trademark characteristic among introverts. Rather than talking things through and spouting off responses, introverts value time alone to process information and formulate their thoughts in an organized manner.
  • Many introverts prefer to write rather than speak, as this Forbes article points out. Consider writing a thoughtful email as opposed to a spontaneous phone call if you want to get the most insightful input on an important topic.
  • Due to their observant behavior, introverts will often pick up on subtleties of conversations and moods—potentially a priceless trait when it comes to working with clients and customers.

Now for the extroverts:

  • One way to add energy to a meeting: Throw an extrovert into the room. Lively conversations, insightful questions and colorful opinions are sure to follow.
  • Extroverts think by talking, allowing them to sort through their ideas and bounce ideas off of other people. Keep this in mind when your extroverted employees are working toward a business solution.
  • A bonus to having extroverted employees? They’re quick on their feet and ready to spring into action. At times, this decisiveness is essential in business, and it’s handy to have these folks on your team.

Whether you identify as an introvert, extrovert or even an ambivert—someone smack dab in the middle—the takeaway is that there is no “right” way to be. Countless examples show the benefit of both personalities, and shedding a light on some of the inner workings of each side just might make us all more productive, understanding and grateful for what our co-workers add to the mix.

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