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Are You an Introvert or Extrovert? Does it Matter?

As a new leader, I considered myself an extrovert. Those I knew well told me that I was a good communicator (or maybe I just liked to talk a lot), I enjoyed being with others, and I never found it hard to meet new people. These things equal extroversion, right?  Not necessarily.

I am an introvert.

According to Carl Jung, the definition of introversion and extroversion comes from where people get their energy. Introverts tend to focus inwards; they need quiet time with their own thoughts and feelings to reenergize. Extroverts, on the other hand, get energized by spending time with others.

Of course, introversion and extroversion exist on a spectrum – meaning no one person is 100 percent introverted or extroverted. This tends to make it challenging to identify what an introvert or extrovert looks like.

Let’s dig a little deeper. You may have been taught that introverts will appear quiet and shy. That’s not necessarily true. Many of my friends and family would be surprised to learn that while I appear to be outgoing and social, that “socialness” takes a lot of energy out of me, and it takes me time to recharge when I get back home.

Similarly, extroverts aren’t always loud or the life of the party; they can also have a quiet side. Remember, the key question to ask is: What energizes them? Often, they will seek out social interactions, enjoy being in a crowd and they derive energy from spending time with others.

Why does this matter?

For leaders, entrepreneurs, or other business owners, knowing which end of the introversion/extroversion continuum you lean towards can help you manage your day better. Additionally, by learning more about your own needs and limitations you are more readily able to understand the needs of others, which builds social awareness. The ability to enhance yourself and social awareness leads to higher emotional intelligence. Higher emotional intelligence equals higher levels of happiness and ultimately the ability to achieve your true potential. In a leader, greater self-awareness and emotional intelligence also translates into greater team satisfaction and improved outcomes for your organization.

The better you understand your own introversion or extroversion preference, the easier it is for you to identify the preferences of others.  Here are five communication tips to try out once you identify the communication preferences of others.

 

How to Communicate with People Who Prefer Extroversion

  • Acknowledge that you are listening and use cues to show that you are preparing to respond
  • Talk person-to-person rather than communicating through writing
  • Anticipate that they will want feedback and be prepared to share information right away
  • Express overt interest and enthusiasm; lean forward, nod, smile, and maintain eye contact
  • Deal with conflict and be willing to confront issues when they occur
 

How to Communicate with People Who Prefer Introversion

  • Let them finish their thoughts; don’t interrupt them
  • Have one-to-one conversations rather than communicating in a group setting
  • Speak slowly and calmly without being condescending
  • Respect their need for privacy, build trust, and ensure confidentiality
  • Provide information ahead of time and allow time and space for processing

 

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