What do Einstein, Warren Buffet (the world’s 2nd richest man), President Obama, Ghandi. Steven Spielberg, Charles Darwin and Larry Page (co-founder of Google) all have in common?
They are all introverts!
For many years the business world has encouraged executives to exude confidence, debate, be impactful, speak up, promote themselves and get out there and network.
We live in a society where being outgoing is a sought after quality.
The word Introvert refers to a person who is focused on (often preoccupied) with their private mental experiences, feelings, and thoughts. The term in this context was first developed by Carl Jung, the famous psychiatrist and original thinker behind the Myers Briggs psychometric test.
An Extrovert is a person who tends to focus on the external world and people as that is where they gain their energy from.
To be quiet and reflective rather than action orientated can be seen as a barrier to career success. Through our experience working in organisations we often observe organisations not leveraging the amazing insights that introverts have. Instead, decisions are rushed into without considering all the consequences or taking on-board everyone’s opinions and expertise.
Some of the biggest misconceptions about introverts is that they are anti-social or shy. It couldn’t be further from the truth, it’s just that they prefer small group interaction. Since they often keep things to themselves their intentions are often misunderstood, this can lead to communication breakdown, mistrust and even conflict.
Organisations are better off when extroverts and introverts work together.
In order for this to happen effectively, it’s important that both introverts and extroverts adapt their approach.
“Most people in politics draw energy from backslapping and shaking hands and all that. I draw energy from discussing ideas.” ― Al Gore
Here are some simple strategies for Introverts to ensure they are heard:
> Prepare a list (in your head or on paper) of key things you want the Extrovert to hear from you. This is to safeguard against getting so caught up in what the Extrovert has to say that you forget to assert your position
> Communicate more of what you are thinking
> Warn the Extrovert that you might want to just talk about the topic, then go away and reflect on the conversation before taking action.
> Let the extrovert talk and think aloud
Here are some strategies for extroverts to keep in mind when working with introverts:
> Send a note to the Introvert in advance of a meeting to let them know what you want to talk about. This will allow the Introvert time to collect their thoughts
> Ask questions and then pause and listen without attempting to start answering the question for the person
> Be economical in what you say
> Avoid misinterpreting an Introvert’s demeanour
> Talk about one thing at a time
> Under no condition should you finish an introvert’s sentence
“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” – Albert Einstein
According to a survey by OPP, 50% of people in business in the UK are Introvert. Yet the scales of success are often tipped in favour of extroverts.