Everyone knows that the workplace is a mishmash of personality types. For better or for worse, there will always be colleagues who see the world differently, and have varying strengths and weaknesses. One of the most obvious ways people relate to their environments and each other is though introversion and extroversion. Both introverts and extroverts have their own unique strengths, which you can maximize in the workplace and elsewhere.
Fundamental Differences in Personality Types
Whether you’re an extrovert or introvert, accepting, owning and enjoying your dominant personality traits can lead to a happier, more fulfilled life. Studies have found that introverts are actually wired differently than extroverts. Introverts have more blood flow in the frontal lobes of their brain and the anterior or frontal thalamus, which are both areas that deal with internal processing. They are great planners and problem solvers. Extroverts hold more blood flow in the anterior cingulate gyrus, temporal lobes and posterior thalamus, which are involved in sensory and emotional experience. Other research has indicated that introversion-extraversion is actually related to individual differences in brain function.
Introverts can easily become self-aware around others, which can cause them to over-plan and overthink a simple outing. An introverted person can have a hard time figuring out the right thing to say in conversation with others, cracking a joke or while being candid. They can be social people, but still tend to reveal less about themselves than extroverts. Most introverts prefer taking some time to think before responding to a situation because they would rather develop their ideas by reflecting privately. Introverts have the ability to focus their attention more readily and for longer periods of time than extroverts. Some introverts may feel awkward or weird around a group of extroverts, but may be attracted to an extroverted person. While many introverts seem to come across as shy and quiet individuals, not all of them are. Shy people can be introverted or extroverted. Introverts prefer keeping things low key and rather than going to large social events.
Introverts in the Workplace
Introverts feel most comfortable working alone or in a small group so they can focus on solving problems without any distractions. A few ideal career choices for introverts include:
- Software Engineer
- Market Research Analyst
- Human Resource Specialist
According to renowned Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, extroversion is defined as the ability of turning the interests and energies of the mind toward events, people and things in the world around us. In psychology, an extrovert is a person concerned more about the practical realities of life rather than with one’s inner thoughts and feelings. Simply put, an individual who is keen on what is happening around him is an extrovert.
If you have ever met or know someone who loves to socialize and has an outgoing personality, he/she is more than likely an extrovert. Unlike introverts, these individuals very rarely require much time to get used to others within a group. Extroverts make the most of the opportunities that come their way, without overly worrying about “what if.” Extroverts are usually the ones who put candy on their desks at the workplace in order to encourage interactions with others. They tend to be energized around other people, and are more prone to become bored easily when alone.
Extroverts in the Workplace
Most extroverts are eager to land a job that doesn’t actually feel like one. Extroverts thrive in positions where they are able to mingle freely with co-workers when they please. They prefer jobs that entail different daily duties rather than a set routine. An extrovert would not do well as a data entry clerk or in a sedentary position all day long. Here are some ideal professions for an extroverted person:
- Public Relations Manager
- Elementary School Teacher
- Physical Therapist
- Sales Professional
After reading about both personality types, if you are unsure of which characteristics suit your personality best, taking a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment is a great way to find out more about your particular traits. Once you become aware of your specific personality type, you will be able to better prevent some of the common problems that may occur when trying to fit a square into a circle. It is also helpful in further understanding yourself and what might best suit your personality type in your pursuit of happiness. When you better understand yourself, your interactions with others make a little more sense.
The Myers-Briggs personality test can be a great resource for employers and supervisors. Understanding your employees on the deeper level allows you to maximize efficiency, communication and harmony. For example, more introverted co-workers may do better sending detailed memos, whereas extroverts may prefer a conference or demonstration. Introverts and extroverts both have fantastic strengths. And when at their full potential, either type can become a powerhouse at the office and at home!