Introverts, Extroverts, and How to Work with Them

This blog was contributed by CCO Ambassador Andy Kapitan

You often hear the words, “Introvert” or “Extrovert” thrown around but do you really know what they mean? Unfortunately these characteristics can sometimes carry negative connotations with them but the truth is they are a legitimate part of one’s personality.  These personality differences may even be caused by a structural difference in the brain!

So let’s start at the brain. Studies have shown that an introvert’s brain is highly reactive, while an extrovert’s is less reactive. This means that for introvert’s, they are receiving tons of stimulation from the outside world, and as a result need to spend more quiet time to process all this information. Extroverts however, receive a lot less stimulation from the outside world which causes them to strive to be around people more and receive as much stimulation as possible.  There have been experiments using a drop of lemon juice on test subjects’ tongues, and the introverts produced noticeably more saliva than extroverts!

So now that you know the basics of why someone is an introvert or extrovert. Here are some examples of commonalities among each personality type:

Extroverts Introverts
Attuned to external environment Drawn to their inner world
Work out ideas by talking them through Work out ideas by reflecting on them
Learn best through doing or discussing Learn best by reflection, mental “practice”
Have broad interests Focus in depth on their interests
Sociable and expressive Private and contained
Readily take initiative in work and relationships Take initiative when the situation or issue is very important to them

So you may have noticed that you have qualities that fall into both categories, which is normal because not everyone is the same. However, despite these differences you will often find yourself working with someone who is the opposite personality type of you. This can indisputably become difficult at times, but we’re here to help. Here are some tips for working with each personality type:

Working with Extroverts Working with Introverts
Allow extroverts to openly brain storm and refrain from judging any ideas Provide time and space for uninterrupted thoughts
Allow extroverts to work with others as much as possible Run your meetings with an agenda and have pre-assigned tasks
Encourage their enthusiasm (especially in front of others) Get to know your introverts one-on-one
Let them dive right into the work Communicate in writing
Inform them of any change in plans as soon as possible

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