In a previous position I was being groomed to take over in a management role. One of the things my mentor was stressing to me was the importance of motivation and communication, I greatly underestimated how detailed the latter would be. Communication is something I always felt came easy to me. I like to think I have good people skills and could pass a message along in an effective way that could translate to any sort of person. To better myself in a wide array I signed up for a professional development/networking group to polish up on and learn new office ethics. With little to no experience in a real professional workplace setting, I was learning on the fly, and wanted to diminish my learning curve. Maybe the most interesting seminar I attended as a result of this group, was a workshop on communication to introverts, and extroverts.
Introverts are shy, and extroverts are outgoing. This was my naive attitude on the subject going into the seminar. I quickly learned that my attitude on the subject was both ignorant and short-sighted. This isn’t as black and white as I once though. I even was surprised to find out that I didn’t necessarily belong to the category I thought I did. In addition, it changed forever the way I communicate with large groups of people. I am going to tackle some of the characteristics or preferences of both class of people, and address what is really the biggest difference between these groups. I will then tackle the ways to effectively communicate to both parties.
First of all let’s identify Extrovert’s. It is true these people are the more verbally social, they are more comfortable communicating about themselves to anyone. Extroverts actually get energized by being with a crowd, they get charged by being around people. If at all possible, extroverts prefer to communicate either in person, or over the phone. As I mentioned earlier, the biggest difference between these groups is the way they think, and process information. The classic extrovert has a higher rate or arousal to new ideas. They want to talk out loud with other people as a way to bounce off ideas and organize their thoughts.
As an example I had a boss that was a textbook extrovert. An incredible person and a phenomenal salesmen. I wasn’t able to get in contact with him while I was writing this post, so I won’t use his real name. For the purposes of this article we will call him Luke. Luke was a classic extrovert, meetings with him might pop up out of nowhere and lasted for extended periods of times. When Luke was sent an email with new information, read a big with some interesting idea’s, or even just had an idea on his own he thought was worth exploring, he reacted in a similar fashion. He would knock on somebody’s door in the office, many times mine, sometimes I thought the first door he could find. He would come in like a whirlwind, talking about what had inspired him. He would list his thoughts, what he liked and what he didn’t like. He be would halfway through a sentence on certain idea, and on why an idea he had just praised, actually wouldn’t work. at times it was comical. To his credit he knew he was like this, often he would say “If I were to be diagnosed, I’m sure I am A.D.H.D.” That’s the way his mind worked, he couldn’t help bouncing from different ideas, and sharing them with people. That is how he organized his thoughts, by talking them out loud with people immediately.
Now let’s look at introvert’s. It is true introverts are more reserved around people. Especially to people they don’t know very well, they don’t like to share personal information. Introverts are more comfortable in the background as opposed to their gregarious counterparts. I will dive into this deeper later, but they also feel more comfortable in one-on-one meetings. They are also more comfortable in communicating in written form like email, as opposed to an in person conversation.
The most fascinating part for me, is the way introverts chose to process information. They want to think out new information by themselves. Introverts wish to play out every scenario before discussing it with other. They like to plan out how the future conversations might go with their associates. They might even practice talking through the conversation by themselves, but they always wish to digest new information on their own.
Now that I have hopefully broaden your thinking on these two classes I wish to give a little insight I found helpful on how to effectively communicate to everyone. I will break this down with two simple techniques.
First of all create office hours, with a catch. It is important to have office hours and be available for your people, but what I found to be effective was to make my office hours after lunch. I found this strategy gave extraverts a time to bounce ideas of others, ensure that I wouldn’t waste any time, as well as knowing that I could listen to their ideas, concerns, etc. On the flip side of this coin I felt it gave the introverts plenty of time to organize their thoughts, as well as giving them the one-on-one environment they were most comfortable in.
The second and most effective strategy I learned from this session is how important memo’s and subject lines in email are. Something I was guilty of in the past was scheduling a meeting for the next day with little to no information at all. What I quickly noticed is that in these group meeting, the lion share of the talking would be done by a few people- you guessed it the extroverts. The introverts in the room rarely spoke their mind, which led to more meeting request the following day. What I found, is that if I scheduled a meeting for the next day, it was absolutely imperative that I go into great detail what the topic would be about. I quickly found these meeting were much more productive and efficient. The introverts were able to organize their thoughts plans, and ideas. The extroverts were given time to bounce ideas off each other. The office was soon humming with a new productivity.
I encourage anybody that manages a large group of people to study the differences between introverts and extroverts. Even categorize and test yourself, you might be surprised what you find out. I assumed I was an extrovert because I was somewhat outgoing, but after doing research and testing myself was amazed to find out I am actually very much so an introvert. I prefer to organize and analytical think about ideas before I am ready to make them public to anybody. I hope you take the time to learn your people, and as importantly I hope you learn how to effectively communicate to everyone.