Introverts Unite! (individually)

Extravert: Oh you’re so shy! You need to get out more!

Introvert: But it’s so draining – I don’t have a problem with going out; I just want to stay at home and read sometimes, y’know?

Extravert: What’s wrong with you? Come to the party!

Introvert: I’ve already planned to spend time alone this weekend.

Extravert: I don’t understand you….you’re weird.

Introducing the Introvert

The opposite of extravert. A person who is energized by spending time alone. Often found in their homes, libraries, quiet parks that not many people know about, or other secluded places, introverts like to think and be alone. A person that needs solitude and an inner sanctum to survive.

Contrary to popular belief, not all introverts are shy, meek or mild. Many have great social lives and love talking to their friends but just need some time to be alone to “recharge” afterwards. The word “Introvert” has negative connotations that need to be destroyed. Introverts are simply misunderstood because the majority of the population consists of extraverts.

Extraversion and Introversion are one of the preferences used in the Jungian Type Inventory or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator – MBTI®. The naming is unfortunately a bit archaic as extraversion is not about being loud and introversion is not about being shy. It is about where people get their energy and motivation from – other people or within themselves.

Everyone spends some time extraverting and sometime introverting. Don’t confuse Introversion with shyness or reclusiveness. They are not related.

So if it is not an indicator of his or her party animal status, how can you identify someone’s type and what value is knowing if he or she is Introverted or Extraverted?

Extraverts tend to
  • talk ideas out loud
  • sometimes jump too quickly into activity and not allow enough time for reflection
  • sometimes forgets to pause to clarify the ideas that give aim or meaning to their activities
  • feel comfortable with and like working in groups
Introverts tend to
  • think ideas out
  • be seen as calm and “centred” or reserved
  • feel comfortable being alone and like solitary activities
  • sometimes spend too much time reflecting and not move into action quickly enough

A few ideas to support introverts when communicating with extraverts

  • Be prepared to discuss a few light conversation topics as a way of connecting with your extraverted conversation partners.
  • Arrive at meetings well rested and refreshed to help prevent sensory overload.
  • Just as you prefer to think through your ideas before you talk about them, extraverts often like to work through their ideas out loud and bounce them off others. Expect to do some brainstorming at a meeting with extraverts.
  • While you may normally prefer to wait your turn to speak, be prepared to jump in when speaking at a meeting of extraverts.
  • Be patient with questions extraverts ask that seem invasive. Rather than analyzing their questions, just offer whatever you are comfortable sharing.
  • If you’re stumped by a question, respond that you need a moment to think about it or that you’ll follow up with an answer later.
  • Recognise extraverts’ needs to have plenty of varied activities and people to talk to; an extravert may be bored by an in-depth discussion behind closed doors with one person on a single topic.
  • Just as you may have deep knowledge about a few topics, appreciate extraverts’ breadth of knowledge on many topics.
  • Avoid sending extraverts long e-mails or leaving detailed phone messages. (Many busy introverts will appreciate this too!) Extraverts may skim or only focus on the first few words.

To the many extraverts out there… please be nice to your introverted colleagues! Don’t patronise them and remember that they are in good company. Famous introverts include: Bill Gates, J.K. Rowling, Christina Aguilera, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks and Warren Buffett to name a few.

To find out more about how profiling instruments can help your team develop, contact Joanna on 0411 287944 or email Joanna.bryant@aliveandkicking.com.au

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