I have a Saturday morning habit of scrolling through Pinterest, Buzzfeed and Facebook. It’s my time to catch up on what has been happening throughout the week when I’ve been immersed in work. A few weeks ago, I was scrolling through Facebook and I noticed one of my sisters had tagged me in a post. It was an article on introverts. She thought it was interesting and fit one of our sisters and would help us extroverts better understand her. The funny thing is, I’m not an extrovert. It’s a common misconception about me. An introverted extrovert is how I define myself or the not so new term I came across – ambivert.
I went to Urban Dictionary to pull up basic definitions of what an introvert, an extrovert, and an ambivert are. I found several descriptions of each. Here are my favorites:
Extrovert: Someone who recharges their energy from being around people. Doesn’t mind being alone but prefers the company of others as it makes them excited. Doesn’t mean that they are good with people or happy all of the time, but that other people’s company is essential to them.
Introvert: A person who gains energy through low stimulus activities. These activities can include spending time alone, reading, studying, going for a relaxing stroll or jog, etc. Introverts are not necessarily shy and can, in fact, be very social, provided they have time to recharge afterward. One defining characteristic seems to be that they feel less reward from highly social situations which is why they can lose energy, feel tired or even overwhelmed when at social events such as parties, concerts, sporting events, etc.
Ambivert: The “forgotten” personality type, directly in between or with very little favor between introvert and extrovert. Ambiverts are quite adaptable, flexible, and tend to be chameleons. Like being ambidextrous but with personality.
Let’s look at what those classic or dominant skills might look like (disclosure: one size does not fit all, big picture here) for each:
Extroverts tend to:
- Process new information quickly
- Quickly apply new knowledge and information
- Talk more abstractly
- Not be as averse to risk
Introverts tend to:
- Be keen memory
- Be planners
- Be good at problem-solving
- Have strong motor control
- Be self-regulating
After going through many articles, studies, and surveys, I have come to the conclusion that whichever label you choose to identify with, the line between each “vert” is quite subtle, thin and blurred. Most of us are typically a mix of the two, hence the ambivert.
Why does this matter at work?
Several years back our organization took a day and dove deep into the DISC profiling program to help identify who each of us is according to this particular profiling program. It’s similar in nature to the Myers-Briggs. The goal was to help each of us understand our own specific traits and comfort zones and then how best to communicate with our fellow coworkers (nutshell version) and to realize that to function at a high level we need all types of people in our organization. We all bring different skills and tools to the workplace. I feel the same way about introverts and extroverts in the workplace.
Here at 501(c) Services, we have several departments that revolve around finances. Those departments attract a high level of task focused, cautious, compliance-minded people. Many would say they are classic introverts. However, our marketing staff tends to be more direct, decisive, and into quick action. Several of them seem like classic extroverts. However, not all feel that way. HR is a mix of sensitive, compliance-minded and people-oriented individuals. I believe we have the right people in the right jobs.
Knowing someone’s natural leanings can help when you are managing employees. Here are a few examples when supervising.
- Allow them to process verbally
- Expect enthusiasm and excitement
- Present options when possible
- Don’t deflate their excitement when they are suggesting ideas
- Don’t expect or demand instant feedback or answers
- When possible, calendar or schedule work (advance notice)
- Instruct and train in private when possible
- Respect their need for quiet and privacy
- Typically, they are a mix of both the extrovert and introvert.
When at all possible, ask your direct reports how they like to receive information and feedback and pay attention to both verbal and nonverbal cues. You can learn a lot when observing. Don’t let your extroverts command all the attention and don’t let your introverts fall through the cracks. Communication is key.
The bottom line is balance, diversity, and versatility make for a better workplace. When we better understand our employees; know their communication style; unique personality traits and what motivates them to come to work each day; we are bound to have a more engaged workforce.
If you have any HR questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact HR Services via email or by calling (800) 358-2163. It’s one of your many 501(c) Agencies Trust member benefits.