When most of us think about communicating effectively we think about how we show up with others, not necessarily about what energizes others and us in terms of communication.
According to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator – one of the most widely used personality assessments in the world – there are two ways in which we are “energized”. This energy focus has a large impact on how we communicate, like to be communicated with, and, importantly, how we are energized.
When most of us hear introvert and extrovert we generally think of the common following definitions:
- Extroverts – loud, gregarious, talks more than listens
- Introverts – quiet, shy, listens more than speaks
While some of those traits might be accurate, when we think of personality and what energizes someone they are not completely accurate.
Individuals who are energized by people and external events are likely to be an extrovert while an introvert is energized by their internal world of ideas and thoughts. When we talk in terms of energy, it has to do with how drained or invigorated we are in regards to our interactions. Extroverts and introverts can both speak in front of groups or spend time working alone on a project and do it equally well – the difference is in their energy levels during and after the engagement. For introverts, a speaking engagement, volunteer group meeting or larger social gathering can be draining, they will need to “recharge” after the engagement – usually by alone time. For extroverts, working on a project alone, writing a proposal and checking email – all solitary activities – will cause their energy to drop and they will need to recharge usually in the form of engagement with others.
Introverts generally show up in the following manner:
- receive energy from dealing with the ideas, pictures, memories and reactions inside their head
- working alone or with one or two people
- need process time so they have a clear idea of what they want to do, say or how they want to show up
- may I like the idea of something better than the real thing
- are reflective and/or reserved
- comfortable being alone
- like to do things on their own
- prefer a smaller circle of friends who they know well
- can spend too much time reflecting and not move to action quickly enough
- may forget to check externally to see if their ideas fit the experience and/or situation at hand
Extroverts generally show up in the following manner:
- receive energy from active involvement in events and enjoy having a lot of different activities
- excited when around people
- affinity for action and making things happen
- feel at home in the external world of people and events
- verbal processor – first answer isn’t usually the final answer
- learn and solve problems best when they can dialogue with others
- like working in groups/teams
- wide range of friends
- may jump too quickly into an activity without allowing enough time to think it over
- when starting a project, sometimes forget to stop and get clear on what needs to occur and why
We can communicate efficiently and effectively if we understand how to communicate in a way that energizes and plays to the strength of others and ourselves. When individuals are drained and de-energized it is hard to focus, think clearly and show up as their best self. For instance, when we want an answer from an introvert consider giving them process time as they work through the request. Introverts need time to process the information and give it consideration while an extrovert, in the same situation, will give you an answer almost immediately. With extroverts, however, their first answer is not always their final answer. Extroverts need to be able to verbally process and dialogue to determine their answer.
When communicating with introverts and extroverts think about communicating in their “language” to get the best results. This could require “flexing” of our own personal style of communicating. When working with introverts, give them time to process information, provide information in writing (think text and email) and provide them the space to work in small groups and/or pairs. Extroverts will need space to talk themselves into answer, will prefer to communicate in person (think phone and Skype) and will be comfortable with larger groups and participating in events and activities. When we play to another’s preferred method of communicating we promote positive energy, which supports engagement and performance.
Understanding of the different needs of introverts and extroverts allows us to be appreciative and attuned to the different needs of those around us. Therefore, we are better able to understand when we pick up our introverted child from school they may not immediately want to engage as they have been “extroverting” all day at school and need to recharge. Conversely, our extroverted child will be energized with all the “extroverting” at school and will be ready to engage and discuss his/her day.
Tips for communicating effectively with introverts and extroverts
- allow process time when making requests
- communicate in writing
- allow time for reflection
- provide opportunities to be involved in small groups or pairs
- allow for time alone
- encourage and support taking action
- allow for time to verbally process and dialogue when making requests
- communicate in person
- provide opportunities to be involved in larger group activities
- provide time for interaction with others and their external environment
- encourage and support reflective thinking
Interested in learning more contact Trigena firstname.lastname@example.org or 801.915.4046.