Introverts are the personality type that typically attract the most questions. Introverts are pensive, complex, and worthy of analysis. They’re often believed to be misunderstood or perhaps victimized by the loud, bustling world we live in.
Extroverts, on the other hand, take up a different kind of spotlight. Their natural ability to socialize and make friends with anyone certainly speaks to their charm. However, their outgoing nature can sometimes shed an unflattering light on them. For example, extroverts have been described as loud, attention-seeking, or perhaps even obnoxious.
An article by Fast Company explains, “Extroverts often get a bad wrap.” Why are we less willing to explore the complexities of extroverts than we are with introverts? Why are we so eager to just sum them up as loud and social? Extroverts may be the more vocal personality type, but a story exists behind the exterior that is worth exploring.
Whether we consider ourselves to be an introvert, extrovert, or somewhere in the middle, we should never be robbed of our nuances. Every personality type and every person has more depth and intricacies than we see from the outside looking in. Leaders must be able to identify the characteristics and personality types of team members in order to manage effectively.
Because extroverts are so wildly generalized, and many times in unfair or negative ways, it’s important to dig a little deeper into the needs of extroverted team members.
They Need Privacy
Extroverts are known to be social butterflies. Since human interaction is something they crave and even need to charge themselves, one would think that the typical office setting is something they would thrive in. With large, open rooms of desks and cubicles, many might assume that extroverts love the opportunities this setting provides for collaboration and access to other workers.
Although this may be true, extroverts still need their privacy—for their own sake and for the sake of their work. Distractions affect us all, but extroverts can be especially distracted with the way offices are typically set up.
However, extroverts’ need for privacy goes beyond the endless distractions presented to them. Going beyond introvert, extrovert, or any other standards of personalities, humans at large need privacy from the world that we have created through technology. An article by Harvard Business Review states that we receive more than 11 million bits of information every second. Yet, we can only process 40 bits. Our brains can’t consciously handle more. Technology has allowed us to stretch where we can do our work and for how long, making it difficult for us to really escape. For this reason, workers of every personality type need privacy to catch their breath in the high-paced work world.
Every individual needs their privacy, no matter how outspoken someone may seem. Respecting workers’ space is one simple yet huge way to help support their needs. If you’re in a position to potentially change some of the workplace layout, one change you may consider would be creating “quiet zones” for workers to do individual work– places where distractions and noise are minimal and furniture is adjusted to avoid interactions with others.
Their Brains Work Differently
We likely know by now that most extroverts like to talk. Unfortunately, their inclination to constantly create conversation can sometimes lead people to believe that they’re narcissistic. They like to talk about their life, their problems, their questions.
However, the reasons extroverts talk often is not because they’re obsessed with themselves and like the sound of their own voice. Their endless chatter is actually how their brains process information. They use the world and people around them as resources to work through situations and come to conclusions. Opposite to how introverts internalize their thought process, extroverts go outside of their own brain and interact with others.
Extroverts may be good talkers, but they can also be good listeners. They crave human interaction, even if they’re on the receiving end of information. Although they’re seen in social situations as attention-seekers, Fast Company says that “their reasons for dominating a conversation stem from nervousness or even instinctive generosity, which compels them to fill in an awkward silence or provide enjoyment for others.” They can be good listeners if you give them the chance.
We can remind ourselves of these facts the next time we’re in a situation where we’re frustrated with an extrovert’s overpowering conversation. By understanding their intentions are not to be obnoxious, but rather to have more genuine human emotions, we can gain patience for each other and build bridges with different personality types.
They’re All Different
Generalizing, in any situation, can be very dangerous. There’s an exception to every rule. Although we may assign standard behaviors and characteristics of people who are considered extroverts, the sea of people who belong to this personality type are all individuals with their own nuances.
On a very basic level, extroverts have been broken down into two main categories of “agentic” extroverts and “affiliative” extroverts, says a Fast Company article. While agentic extroverts are ambitious leaders, affiliative extroverts crave deep human interaction. Each type sits on the opposite extremes of the extrovert spectrum, and most extroverts are a mix of the two.
You can be an extrovert and still be shy, too. This type of extrovert likely still craves human connections, but doesn’t necessarily have the natural comfort to initiate conversation and actively seek the interaction they need.
Extroverts are just like introverts in that they are very complex and their exemplified qualities differ person to person. We should be mindful of this fact so that we can keep an open mind about an individual even when we sense a specific personality type.
Everyone has a story, and there’s alway more to the story than what meets the eye. Understanding different personality types is a great way to navigate relationships, but really getting to know someone on a deeper level will open up many more opportunities for successful interpersonal relations in the workplace.
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