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Extraverts and Introverts in the Workplace


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Extraverts and Introverts in the Workplace

Table of Contents
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Characteristics of an Extravert . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3
Characteristics of an Introvert . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Preferences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Behavioral Differences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5
Leadership Styles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Approach to Teamwork . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Conflict Resolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6
Problem Solving . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7
Successful Extraverted and Introverted Leaders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
The Corporate World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine Cook Briggs, who developed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®), based their efforts upon the work of Carl Jung’s ideas of psychological types. Katharine became interested in psychological types observing Clarence Myers, Isabel’s husband, odd behavior from the rest of the family. She introduced her daughter to a book written by Jung named Psychological Types and they both became “avid type watchers” (Carroll, 2004). Their premise was “to help people understand themselves and each other so that they might work in vocations that matched their personality types” (Carroll, 2004). The trait of extraversion–introversion is a central dimension of human personality theories. The terms introversion and extraversion were first popularized by Jung, although both the popular understanding and psychological usage differ from his original intent. Jung and the authors of the Myers–Briggs provide a different perspective and suggest that everyone has both an extroverted side and an introverted side, with one being more dominant than the other (Wikipedia, n.d.). The focus of this paper is to look at how extraverts and introverts perform in the workplace. Characteristics of an Extravert An extravert projects energy outward toward people and things, and because of this they are considered social. They like a lot of variety and action and need a lot of stimulation. Extraverts tend to be more understandable and accessible because they are more likely to be relaxed and confident. Typically, extraverted people have many friends and social relationships

3 and enjoy social gatherings. Professionally, extraverts are more assertive, prefer to work around other people and make good salesmen or managers.

Characteristics of an Introvert According to, an introvert is a person characterized by concern primarily with his own thoughts and feelings. Introverts derive their energy from within and look inward for ideas and motivation. These types of people have high focus and seek deep understanding about things in life. Introverts are better at showing empathy and being more inter-personally connected. Typically, introverted people have fewer friends, but have stronger bonds with those friends than extraverts have with theirs. Professionally, introverts are good at creative pursuits and enjoy working alone.

Preferences Personality type is a practical tool for exploring what works for you, then looking for and recognizing work that satisfies your preferences (Myers & Briggs Foundation, 2003). The preferences for extraversion and introversion are often called "attitudes". Briggs and Myers recognized that each of the cognitive functions can operate in the external world of behavior, action, people, and things ("extraverted attitude") or the internal world of ideas and reflection ("introverted attitude") (Wikipedia, n.d.). A person with a preference for introversion may find he or she is happier doing research, while a person who prefers extraversion may favor a field with more interaction with people.

Behavioral Differences Extraverts and introverts have a variety of behavioral differences. According to one study, extraverts tend to wear more decorative clothing, whereas introverts prefer practical, comfortable clothes (Wikipedia, n.d.). Personality also influences how people arrange their work areas. In general, extraverts decorate their offices more, keep their doors open, keep extra chairs nearby, and are more likely to put dishes of candy on their desks. These are attempts to invite co-workers and encourage interaction. Introverts, in contrast, decorate less and tend to arrange their workspace to discourage social interaction. In any case, people fluctuate in their behavior all the time, and even extreme introverts and extraverts do not always act according to their type.

Leadership Styles The leadership styles of the extravert and the introvert can vary greatly in the workplace. Take the example of two past presidents, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. Nixon, considered by some to be the most intelligent U.S. foreign policy leader of the second half of the 20th century, drew his strength from his ability to understand and look at complex situations in a quiet and somewhat private manner. Bill Clinton on the other hand, gained widespread recognition because of his ability to publicly sympathize and empathize with a broad base of people. Extraverts lead with high energy and can influence others into action. They lead others in the same way that they lead their lives; they put it all out on display. A down side with extraverts is they tend to be talkative and are not able to steady themselves without a group. Introverts are energized by their own concepts and ideas. When they decide to win over others, they tend to do so by writing a well thought out and compelling argument that is intended to win others over. A
negative aspect of the introverted leader is that he is not always willing to make a snap decision and others can see this as indecisive or weak. Extraverted leaders are action oriented and like to be out with other people. They will walk around talking, slapping backs and observing their people at work. In contrast, the introverted leader would tire this type of leadership style and would retreat into the comforts of his office.

Approach to Teamwork Extraverts can be a tiring bunch when it comes to teamwork by demanding attention all the time. An introvert keeps information close to the vest and may be perceived as controlling by not circulating information. This description is not correct and can cause damage to teamwork. Both parties need to learn to take note and tolerate each other’s styles of leadership. The introvert may need to let the extravert talk through problems or ideas and be honest about how he thinks and may need to let the others know that his conclusion may take awhile. Extraverts seem to think that if someone is not busy talking to another person that person is not busy and may interrupt whatever that person is doing. Introverts on the other hand need to let others know about their need for peace.

Conflict Resolution Extraverts and introverts have different ways of dealing with conflict when it occurs.
Extraverts like to talk things out, often saying anything that comes to his mind and offending everybody in the room. Because the extravert will not remember what he has said, he cannot
figure out why the others are upset. The introverted person has problems of his own in this area. The introvert does not deal with conflict well at all. The introvert tends to internalize the stress of the situation. All that the introvert wants to do is go off by himself and work on what to say next, being careful not to make a fool of himself or not to say something that he will regret later.

Problem Solving As you can guess, extraverts and introverts solve problems differently. While extraverts tend to talk out their problems, introverts like to go off by themselves and think over the problem in peace and quiet. Extraverts can talk out a problem without a word being said back to them and solve the problem. An extreme example (Kroeger, 2002) of this is an extravert that entered a room, rambling to others about a problem: “Gee, I don’t know whether to call the gas station about my credit card or just drive up there and see if that’s where it is. I can probably do either-I have plenty of time this afternoon-I think I’ll drive and check it out. Thanks for your help.” At which point he turned around and walked out of the room. The amazing thing is that the extravert really did feel that the “listeners” were helpful, while the “listeners” were mostly amazed at the spectacle. Introverts, on the other hand, solve problems best when they have time to think them over in private. They think things through and do not jump to conclusions as quickly as extroverts tend to do.

Successful Extraverted and Introverted Leaders Some research shows that behaving in an extraverted manner is the key to success as a leader. Like John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Jack Welch. Their behavior is bold, talkative, and assertive (Nobel, 2010). This enables them to communicate a strong, dominant vision that inspires followers to deliver results. Other research shows that behaving in an introverted manner is the key to success as a leader. Like Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg. Their behavior is quiet, shy, and reserved (Nobel, 2010). This enables them to empower their people to deliver results.

The Corporate World The corporate world seems to favor extraverts, as they tend to have an energizing presence and demonstrate a team-oriented attitude. In contrast, introverts tend to be undervalued in the workplace due to their typically anxious demeanor and the fact that they frequently withdraw into their work, preventing supervisors or peers from seeing their true contributions. "We live with a value system that I call the Extravert Ideal -- the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight," Cain writes in her introduction, an excerpt of which is available on her website. "But we make a grave mistake to embrace the Extravert Ideal so unthinkingly. Some of our greatest ideas, art, and inventions -- from the theory of evolution to van Gogh's sunflowers to the personal computer -- came from quiet and cerebral people who knew how to tune in to their inner worlds and the treasures to be found there (Cain, n.d.)."
Conclusion In conclusion, extraverts and introverts approach the work setting in much the same way that they may approach any other aspect in their lives. While the extravert may go about life and work loudly and with a great deal of outward energy, the introvert goes about work and life quietly and thoughtfully. If introverts and extroverts see these differences and are willing to make concessions about the way the other goes about his or her work the workplace and the teams that they work with will function better and be more productive. One of the key takeaways from my research is that anyone can learn to practice effective leadership and regardless of their personality type, when pushed to try different styles, people are able to learn the positive leadership characteristics of both introverts and extraverts.

“Whatever the circumstances of your life, the understanding of type can make your perceptions clearer, your judgments sounder, and your life closer to your heart’s desire.” - Isabel Briggs Myers

Carroll, R.T. (2004, January). Myers-Briggs Type Indicators. The Skeptic’s Dictionary. Retrieved from

Personality and Careers. (2003). Myers & Briggs Foundation. Retrieved from

Introvert. (2005). Retrieved from

Extraversion and introversion. (n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved from

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. (n.d.) Wikipedia. Retrieved from

Nobel, C. 18 October, 2010. Introverts: The Best Leaders for Proactive Employees. Forbes India Magazine. Retrieved from best-leader-for-proactive-employees/18292/1?id=18292&pg=1

Cain, S. (n.d.). “Quiet” Excerpt. Susan Cain - The Power of Retrieved from

Louie. K. 2013, April 15. The Power of Introverts in the Workplace. Retrieved from power-of-introverts-in-the-workplace-13041501


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