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Working Effectively with Introverts, Extroverts, and Ambiverts

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There are different personalities everywhere you go. Anywhere you work, whether it’s as a volunteer at a literacy center, at a restaurant, at a call center, or in an office, you will need to work with different personality types. The Meyers-Briggs personality test defines 16 distinct personality types. However, one of the biggest distinguishing features between the types that you’ll notice in the workplace is in the level of extraversion or introversion. Some are introverts, some extroverts, and some are ambiverts (having qualities of both introverts and ambiverts). Employees will react differently to roadblocks and successes at work based on this.

Many people assume that a person’s level of talkativeness determines their introversion or extraversion. This is inaccurate. While extraverts will have a natural desire to share more about their lives than introverts, both types can be equally social and talkative in certain situations. The difference is where a person gets their energy: from being with others (which means they’re an extrovert), or from being alone (which means they’re an introvert). Introverts are more focused on ideas and images they generate internally, while extraverts prefer focusing more of their effort on social situations, other people, and things. (For more details, see: http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/extraversion-or-introversion.htm) Shyness does not necessarily correlate with introversion.

The level of introversion and extroversion is best understood if you see it on a scale of 1 to 100. Most people will fall somewhere in the middle. These people are ambiverts.

In the workplace, extraverts will:

  • Enjoy spending time with others and working in groups
  • Think out loud and enjoy meetings where there is brainstorming
  • Begin a work project quickly without planning all the details out clearly
  • Sometimes struggle to accomplish tasks independently if isolated for prolonged periods of time

In the workplace, introverts will:

  • Come up with their best ideas independently (not in a group brainstorming meeting)
  • Work best independently or with one or two close co-workers
  • May get so involved planning details of project that they don’t start it in a timely fashion
  • Be energized while working alone on a project

In the workplace, ambiverts will:

  • Work effectively alone and in groups (adaptable)
  • Effective listeners and talkers (according to recent studies, ambiverts actually do the best at sales jobs, since they both speak assertively and listen to customer’s needs and concerns)
  • May not understand what type of work environment they do best in (since it may vary)
  • Participate in brainstorming meetings but also have good ideas to contribute through email

Tips for Working with Introverts

According to Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, approximately one-third to one-half of all Americans are introverts. Cain asserts that introverts are often marginalized in the workplace, with talkative extroverts often being chosen for promotions over introverts. In order to work effectively with introverts, experts suggest that you create meeting agendas instead of popping unexpected questions on them in large group settings. Introverts tend to prefer planning things in advance more than extroverts. Along these lines, you can also rethink loud brainstorming meetings to draw out the most creative ideas in all participants. Instead of expecting all brainstorming to take place in a large group setting, experts recommend encouraging brainstorming of ideas by email as well as verbally.

Tips for Working with Extroverts

Working around a “Chatty Cathy” type can be a nightmare for many introverts (or even for many ambiverts, who need uninterrupted time as well). If you are more introverted than your co-workers, and you find that disruptions erode at your productivity, speak up and let your boss and co-workers understand your need for quiet, uninterrupted time. Usually the best way to approach this is by explaining that you work more efficiently when you have fewer disruptions. Other helpful tools to survive working in an environment dominated by extroverts are to use noise-cancelling headphones. You can listen to music or just use them to cancel out office chatter.

When working in any job, the key in getting along with different personality types is accepting that everyone has unique strengths, and that everyone doesn’t need to be good at everything. By showing respect for other workers’ differences or their preferences, you will be able to create a culture of respect in the workplace.

If you find that mental health issues are preventing you from experiencing fulfillment and success in the workplace, contact Houston Behavioral Healthcare Hospital to seek treatment. Contact us online or call in for a free assessment at 832-834-7710.

 

Sources:

Psychological Science, Rethinking the Extraverted Sales Ideal The Ambivert Advantage, by Adam M. Grant, July 16, 2012, http://pss.sagepub.com/content/24/6/1024.abstract

The Meyers & Briggs Foundation, MBTI® Basics, http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/