It’s an extrovert world.  This is hard for those of us who are more introverted by nature.

Extroversion and Introversion are two of the scales from the Myers Briggs Type indicator, these words are so well known that they are used in everyday life. Extroverts are people who are energized by other people and are seen as friendly and easy to get to know and people often know a lot about what they are thinking and feeling.  They tend to act first and think about it afterwards.  Introverts on the other hand get their energy from within and are often seen as reserved and harder to get to know. they are less likely to share thoughts and feelings and often take a long time thinking about what they are going to do and perhaps can miss out on something.

I’ve recently worked with a client who is quite introverted by nature but feels she should ‘act as an extrovert’.  Many of us that are introverted feel that we need to change our behaviour to fit in with more extroverted people but if we act out of type this can be quite stressful for us.

When I was young I was very shy and quiet, people used to say ‘Denise is deep’, I don’t think I was but if I couldn’t think of something relevant to say I’d rather say nothing.  Later I’d have some great thoughts, but it was too late by then.

That’s what often happens with Introverts – we don’t always think of an immediate response, and even if we do we can be a bit unsure if we should speak up or not. Sometimes we have chosen right, but most of the time we realise that we should have spoken, particularly when someone else says what we had thought of saying.

What I learnt to do was to think in advance what was likely to be discussed, even better if I got a well laid out agenda. Over time I also got a bit more assertive in making my comments, particularly as I developed an expertise in an area but I’d often introduce my view with a comment like

‘I’m not sure if this is exactly right, but I was thinking we  could …’

It also helps if you know about the topic, so sometimes it works best if you have some background knowledge, perhaps by being seen as an expert in a particular area.

It can also help if you let other people know how to get the best out of working with an introvert – I run team building events based on the MBTI and this helps as people understand what it is like to be themselves and also how they differ from other people and find out more about what it is like to not be you.

So as Introverts, when working with extroverts we can enhance the relationship by coming over as someone with a bit more energy and enthusiasm and be willing to speak up more. 

Extroverts  can help get the best out of us as introverts by letting us know in advance what will be discussed, and ideally sending out written material in advance for pre reading.  They can also allow us time to respond and ask questions to draw us out.  If we want to discuss things on a one to one basis to again give advance notice of what is to be discussed and to allow us time to come back with our considered reply.

Another area that we, as Introverts can struggle is at parties and networking events. I’ll cover this in part two of this article.

Can I help? Do you have a comment to make, either comment below or get in touch.

Published On: February 8th, 2010 / Categories: Assessments / Tags: /

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