I am a big fan of debates that spring up often regarding different personality types and how can one “deal” with them at work. I love to hear people talk about different perceptions regarding what or rather who, is the “right fit” for the society, for the workplace, also at home.
For instance, my mother-in-law loves to say that my husband, i.e. her son, is an introvert just like her. She loves this idea and has been instilling it in my husband since he was a child. Indeed being the only child, he had been a loner but he is quite the gregarious guy I’ve known, and even his, and my friends would agree! Anyways, the point of this is that though my mother-in-law is a lovely woman, she is also headstrong about her opinions and has set perceptions regarding introverts and extroverts, and believes that the former is better than the latter. She is intimidated by extroverts. Being an introvert herself, she feels that her “type” is better than the other and should be preferred. The reason I shared this little anecdote, is to stress upon the fact that often we fall prey to what other believe is the right side.
In reality, there is no right or wrong or better or worse type here. The universal truth is that introverts, extroverts and even ambiverts (yes, there is a word like that) exist in our society. Our presumed extrovert society exerts pressure on introverts to be an extrovert all the time, whether it is a sales pitch, presentation, team interactions and even social gatherings. It is almost always important for others that everyone should talk, be over the top, but what about the quieter ones who want to just listen, be a spectator and provide insights in a different manner? Though the statistics resulted through a study, based on an official random sample, conducted by the Myers-Briggs organization in 1998, shows introverts are higher in number than extroverts, yet extroverts seem to get more attention. So do the social and organizational cultures favor extrovert characteristics over introvert because they are more visible? Is being ‘friendly’ and ‘outgoing’ is the way to succeed in life and if you prefer being alone or quiet is considered something unusual, but to think of it, why should it be? I am not propagating any one type, I personally (scientifically) have a slight preference over extraversion but I know I have my moments of intraversion as well. It is perfectly fine and we should learn to deal with it, and accept it, and even accept others, and if need be help those who we understand in the process!
Let’s focus on the terms introspective and extropsective by splitting the words, intro means inwardly and extro means outwardly. It is nothing but a reflection of oneself in one’s surroundings. So why such hullabaloo around it?
Often many people try to put on a mask in public so they are not seen as ‘loners’ or to be thought as ‘unintelligent’, not ‘networking’ worthy, not to lose out on their voice. Often then these introverts condition themselves into feeling that they cannot succeed in life without being an extrovert and showing themselves out there. Well heads up on this sphere that there plenty of “popular” and successful introverts who are not only thought leaders but also great working professionals [type into Google and do a quick search to surprise yourself].
In all honestly, things aren’t black and white, there were and will be moments when one would prefer intraversion over extraversion and viz-a-viz. Myers and Briggs have explained this concept wonderfully. However, there is a dominant type which exists within us. I would suggest, before we try to understand how should we deal with those who are introverts, it is best to look within and see where we come from.
I would urge you to take this personality test, (while there are many others as well) to understand yourself better. There are no right or wrong types or right and wrong answers, however, once you are sure about your “favorite world“, and you know you are an introvert, try taking the scientific test at the end, to understand what kind of introvert are you! I knowwww…! I’m flabbergasted myself that not just there are two types of preferences further more there are more sub-types… below are a chosen few mentioned in the Scientific American Blog, written by Scott Barry Kaufman, (there are more if you want to read).
- Preference for quiet, minimally stimulating environments: Quiet by Susan Cain
- Preference for concentration and solitude: The Introvert’s Way by Sophia Dembling
- Rechargeable battery: The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney
- Thoughtful-introspective: Solitude by A. Storr
- Shy-socially anxious: The Gift of Shyness by A. Avila
- Loner-alone by preference: Party of One by A. Rufus
- Low Energy: High Energy Living by R. Cooper
So where am I going with this? I would iterate once again, that understand yourself first, to know how you can deal with the others and yourself.
If you are an introvert, or know and have observed someone else to be one, then adopt these tactics to effectively correspond with them. Again, it is not that extroverts don’t need help at workplace or they are oh so supreme, that they can work everything out, it is just that they can “talk” themselves out slightly more easily. So, here are a few tips to help your introverted self or others at workplace, home or social life as well.
- Give and take adequate space: If you know of an introvert or are one then you know that space is supreme. Introverts can get a lot of energy when they have space to themselves, this doesn’t necessarily mean isolation, it means letting them know that you care and can help. If you are an introvert yourself, then let someone know about you
- Be polite and firm, respectful and direct: Politeness, assertiveness and respectful behavior, while being direct with introverts really helps. Not only does this get the job done faster, it also lets them be in their own best behavior where they can perform better.
- Understand and listen: If an introvert speaks up or you get them to speak up, make an effort to understand and listen carefully to what they are saying, sometimes this helps them feel wanted in the society, organization culture and even home.
- Leverage technology and electronic communications: Meetings often drain the best of the best extroverted personalities as well, so imagine the effect it would have on introverts. Often the best thing to do it let them communicate electronically and to maximize the use of technology in terms of collaborative tools, emails and social media to get them to maximize output.
- Give and take time to think, prepare and present: One asset that introverts and extroverts value is schedule time. Introverts require time to think things through and present and prepare their substance before they can speak up. So one should provide this leeway!
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