I want to talk about differing personalities in the workplace. If you are running your business solo, this information will still be helpful so don’t check out quite yet. If you’re working with one or more people (yes, your spouse counts), this will help you create space for all parties involved to function more efficiently.
For now, let’s focus on two of the most common traits that can make or break a partnership if not handled properly: the Introvert vs. Extrovert dynamic.
These two traits determine where we put our attention and get our energy.
Extroverts get their energy from activity. The external world makes them feel alive and reinvigorated. Being alone with their own brains is definitely more exhausting than being out and about with other people. In fact, extroverts typically like to talk through their thoughts before they figure out what they really want to say. They are energized by busy coffee houses and places full of activity.
Introverts get their energy from the world inside their heads. They prefer doing things alone or with one or two close friends. The world they create in their heads is often more interesting than actual reality. They take time to reflect and then typically have a clear direction of where to go next.
Let’s be clear: the misconception that introverts are reclusive and impersonal isn’t true. They just doesn’t get super jazzed about being on sensory overload. It doesn’t mean they don’t like people, lack personalities or would rather live as hermits. It simply means they aren’t energized by constant activity and verbal processing. They like being alone with their thoughts and honestly don’t mind spending all day with one or two other people they feel comfortable with just tossing around ideas and dreaming about the future.
Here are some suggestions for those of you working with your opposite:
The introvert needs some space. If you’re an extrovert working with an introvert, it is counter-productive for you to verbal vomit all over him/her ALL the time. We know you think you’re just brainstorming or ‘talking things out,’ but when you interrupt an introvert during their concentrated work time, it throws them off. Big time. They spend an incredible amount of time rebooting to get back to where they were before your verbal escapade. Extroverts, if your partner is an introvert, please schedule meetings to process verbally. You’ll show up prepared and your partner will be more productive in the meantime without your interruptions. Oh, and it’s super nice if you don’t jam pack their schedules with people and activities. Too much of that will only lead to exhaustion and burnout.
The extrovert needs to get out more. It is not the introvert’s responsibility to entertain the extrovert. If you are the extrovert in the equation, take it upon yourself to get your extrovert on without dragging your introvert partner into the mix. Start your morning at a coffee shop with client meetings or with industry friends. It’ll get you energized from the get-go and you’ll come back to the office with clear direction and excitement to hunker down and work. (Put a time limit on these please. You still need to channel that energy into productivity!)
If you’re an extrovert who isn’t getting out enough and interacting with people/the world around you, you’re going to run yourself straight into a funk. Same goes for an introvert who isn’t getting enough alone time.
At BDB, we have an introvert/extrovert dynamic and have had to work hard to make sure everyone feels respected in their preferred work styles. It comes with practice and open communication.
Being aware of how you AND the people around you get their energy does wonders for work (and marital) relationships. If you’re looking to hire new employees or interns, it may be beneficial to not only take them through the StrengthsFinder, but to also ask where they fall on this extrovert/introvert scale. You’ll be able to create an environment that is both conducive to your productivity and theirs without having unnecessary conflict or unmet expectations.