If you type “extrovert” into Google, here is what you see:
All our lives the definition above has been hammered into our brains as the true meaning of the word “extrovert”. Don’t get me wrong, this definition isn’t incorrect. It’s just looking at a very small piece of the puzzle.
What does it really mean to be an extrovert?
Picture yourself after you’ve had a long day at work. Are you in your bedroom curled up under a warm blanket reading your favorite novel? Are you sitting in your living room with some friends explaining to them all the juicy details of your long day? Your answer to this question might vary from day to day, but can you see yourself leaning towards one option more than the other? Then there’s your answer!
Still don’t see it?
Ok. Try taking the focus away from what extroverts do, and start focusing on why they do it. Why do extroverts favor socializing with people over being alone? It’s because that’s where they gain their energy from. If the thought of interacting with people after a long day at work recharges and energizes you, then you most definitely lean heavily towards the extroverted side of the scale.
What being an extrovert doesn’t mean.
When exploring this newly expanded definition of extraversion, a few of these (incorrect) thoughts may have crossed your mind:
Extroverts don’t seek quiet time.
Extroverts gain energy from social interactions, but that doesn’t exactly mean an extrovert needs to interact with people 24/7. Jennifer B. Kahnweiler—a certified speaking professional, executive coach, and author—gave a very fitting example of this. An extrovert might listen to music through his/her headphones while sitting in the middle of a noisy coffee shop. It may not be the peace and quiet an introvert desires, but it’s still their own version of some personal “quiet” time.
Extroverts don’t listen.
Some believe extroverts love to hear themselves talk, but never listen to what’s being said. I can’t speak for everyone here, but many extroverts listen in a different way than introverts do. Introverts might stay quiet when listening to someone speak. They might need time to internally process what is being said and formulate an answer. Extroverts, on the other hand, might take more of a “thinking out loud” approach. They may externally process the conversation by asking questions while an individual is speaking to understand the situation clearly.
Extroverts are fantastic presenters and public speakers.
If you find social interactions rejuvenating then you must find public speaking to be a cakewalk, right? Not always the case. Extroverts do find conversing with other people energizing, but that is based off two-way communication. Knowing there will only be one-way communication might exhaust an extrovert just the same as anyone else. This video below is a great representation of what an extrovert might feel like while giving a presentation.
Are you uncomfortable? Good. Point proven.
Are leaders who exemplify extroverted qualities more successful?
My summarized version (you’re welcome) of a Harvard Business School case study has the answer. However, before I begin I want you to think about someone you know in a leadership position. Someone like your boss or manager who you would consider an extrovert. Also, think about your relationship with that person and how you perceive them.
It truly depends on the individuals you are managing. Guidance seeking employees saw extroverted traits in a positive light, where non-guidance seeking employees saw extroverted traits in a negative light. Thus coming to the conclusion that extroverted qualities in a leader aren’t always perceived positively in the workplace.
Still thinking about that person? Do you feel that your relationship with this person aligns with the findings of this study? Did I change your life? Probably not. But hey, at least you learned something new here.
Are there any tips on working with extroverts in the workplace?
Whether you are a manager looking for some guidance in managing your team of outgoing individuals or just a fellow coworker just trying to get by in this extroverted world, these are some tips found to be extremely helpful:
Don’t give an extrovert an agenda prior to a meeting.
Especially in a meeting focused on brainstorming, extroverts will excel when they are able to process their ideas out loud with other coworkers present. On the flip side, introverts will typically seek out an agenda because they like to have time to process things on their own before sharing their thoughts and ideas.
Round up some extroverts and put them on a team together.
In an extrovert’s eyes, two heads are better than one. An extrovert needs to talk things out rather than internally processing their ideas. Any opportunity an extrovert can get to brainstorm with other coworkers will be beneficial to everyone involved.
Assign an extrovert a few small projects instead of one large project.
Extroverts might enjoy the challenge of wearing multiple hats and jumping into different projects because it allows them the social interaction they desire. The variety multiple projects would bring might also be a positive because it would allow them to interact with different people instead of falling into a monotonous routine.
Let extroverts sit in an open area instead of a closed off cubicle.
“Nobody puts an extrovert in a corner.” – A totally real Patrick Swayze quote
Seriously, you shouldn’t. Putting an extrovert in a closed off cubicle will hinder their ability to interact with coworkers. Without acquiring the social interaction they crave, they won’t be able to perform at their highest productivity level. So just don’t do it, ok?
Before I end, there is one point I want to make absolutely clear.
No one is purely an extrovert.
Every extrovert has an introverted side to them. The opposite is also true for introverts. What about me? Well, I’m 93% Extroverted and 7% Introverted. I found that out by taking a *much shorter version* of the Myers Briggs personality exam. If you have 12 free minutes, you should learn more about your personality mix.