There is a lot of talk lately about what it means to be extroverted or introverted. Sometimes it seems like society prefers one to the other. For instance, the outgoing, confident extrovert was valorised for a long time, but now the understated qualities of the introvert are getting a lot of appreciation.
The truth is that no matter where someone falls on this line, their qualities and characteristics can work for them – especially in the workplace.
Extroversion versus introversion
For a long time, the popular usage of the terms was just a way of saying whether you are outgoing or shy. There is more to it than that though. Without going into a long description, one way to differentiate between the types is to understand the difference in how different people recharge their energy levels.
Extroverts “recharge” by being in social situations. In other words it doesn’t mean extroverts can’t be stay in by themselves, they just feel energised from being around people. Introverts, however, need to go off quietly by themselves to recharge. So it is not that they can’t or dislike socialising, it’s just that too much of it drains their energy.
Now that we have a basic definition out the way, let’s take a look how being one or the other helps individuals in the workplace.
If someone is an introvert at work
The value of introverts is being more and more appreciated in a work environment.
While other people are clamouring to be heard, introverts listen and take more in, thinking about things deeply. Reflection and a rich inner life cultivate a minefield of ideas. If you are dealing with an introvert, accept that they have valuable viewpoints to share when the commotion has died down. Remember that someone shouldn’t have to be the loudest person in a room to be heard.
Introverts are also usually not impulsive when making important decisions, and tend to take a more collected approach when working on projects or with others. An introvert might enjoy quiet, solitary jobs like working with business finance, or creative ones such as graphic design.
If someone is an extrovert at work
By looking at a lot of the content online, you would think that there is far more support and interest for introverts these days. This is probably just a reaction to what was always seen as a bias towards extroversion. Being an extrovert doesn’t make someone an unthinking, insensible loudmouth though. There are many myths about extroverts, but extroverts can also have good ideas, be creative and work in a team.
Extroverts thrive on new stimuli. This means that if an extrovert is generally better at taking risks and driving change. While some people might not do well in an environment where there is a lot going on all at once, an extrovert is likely to revel in it. Networking also comes easier to the extrovert, and we all know how important networking is.
No matter where an employee falls on the spectrum there is a place for them to shine in the workplace. Then again, also try not to read too closely into personality types and theories. They can certainly be useful, but ultimately we are all multi-faced and complex beings.