2 Simple Tactics Each That Allow Extroverts and Introverts to Work Better Together

November 16, 2016

These tips allow extroverts to work better with introverts, and vice-versa.

What’s the difference between introverts and extroverts?

The two groups tend to have unique characteristics. But their fundamental difference is this: extroverts get their energy from being with people, whereas introverts get their energy from being alone.

But that disparity shouldn’t prevent introverts and extroverts from forming strong professional relationships. In fact, because introverts and extroverts generally have different strengths, they become a formidable team when they work together.

The key for both is to “flex” their communication styles to accommodate each other, according to Kelley School of Business Professor Brenda Bailey-Hughes in her LinkedIn Learning course on communication. Just by both sides making small accommodations, they can greatly increase the quality of their relationship.

Two tips for extroverts on forming better work relationships with introverts.

Two actions extroverts can take at work to form better relationships with introverts are:

  • Give out detailed agendas before meetings.

Introverts, unlike extroverts, generally prefer to process information on their own before discussing it with a group. Extroverts can accommodate that by giving introverts agendas and prep materials at least a day before a meeting, allowing introverts to form their opinions on the matter.

“Encourage them to come to the meeting prepared to comment on certain topics,” Bailey-Hughes said in her class. “Introverts always do better if they’ve had solitary processing time.”

Additionally, say extroverts and introverts have a brainstorming session. Giving introverts a night to think about it – or even five minutes of silent brainstorming before the verbal brainstorm – can help them greatly.

  • Spend time with introverts in one-on-one settings.

“Introverts, contrary to one of the myths about them, are not anti-social,” Bailey-Hughes said. “They simply prefer to socialize in pairs or very small groups.”

This flies in the face of extroverts, who generally prefer to socialize in larger group settings. However, if an extrovert wants to make an introvert feel comfortable and build a strong relationship with them, they should spend some one-on-one time with them.

Pro tip – one thing introverts hate is when they think they are going to have a one-on-one lunch with someone, for example, and that person unexpectedly invites others. If you have set up a one-on-one meeting with an introvert, try to keep it that way.

Two tips for introverts on forming better work relationships with extroverts.

This is a two-way street, as introverts also need to adjust their behavior to form strong relationships with extroverts. Two actions they can take at work to form better relationships with extroverts are:

  • Respect that extroverts process by talking.

Whereas introverts prefer to process information by themselves, extroverts prefer to process information by talking it out with someone else. So, if you bounce an idea off an extrovert, give them the freedom to talk through it with you.

“Don’t assume that everything they say is exactly what they mean, or that you have to act on everything they say,” Bailey-Hughes said in her course. “Understand that an extrovert verbalizes their thoughts to gain clarity, in the same way that (an introvert) might sit quietly and ponder or write out your thoughts to gain clarity.”

  • Schedule time on your calendar to visit with extroverts.

Just like introverts need alone time, extroverts need time to socialize. Extroverts get their energy through socialization, so an introvert literally scheduling time to socialize with an extrovert will boost the extrovert’s energy level.

“Socializing may not be a natural part of (an introvert’s) emotional need, but it is for the extrovert,” Bailey-Hughes said. “Honor that need for connection and make it a habit.”

Tying it together

It’s not as if extroverts and introverts are two different species that have nothing in common. But there are subtle differences, and both groups need to be aware of those differences if they want to form lasting professional relationships.

Ultimately though, people are rarely full-on extroverts or full-on introverts, and they might have other, more prominent traits. The best colleagues and the best managers are aware of those traits and adjust to them.

“The most important step is to ask your colleagues what kind of working environment and meeting settings help them work best and share your own needs as well,” Bailey-Hughes said.

Want to communicate more effectively at the office? Watch Bailey-Hughes LinkedIn Learning course she taught with fellow business school professor Tatiana Kolovou, Communication Tips.

Some other LinkedIn Learning classes you might be interested in are: