Lately, no matter where you turn online you’re sure to find an article, study, or blog about the importance of understanding Introverts in the workplace. Most of them are centered around making the office more comfortable for Introverts or understanding the misconceptions that people have about their introverted colleagues.
While it’s been great to see people taking a more active role in learning about personality and how it affects the workplace, now — oddly — it feels like Extroverts are being left behind.
Some people may think “so what, they’ve had their time,” but many people don’t really understand Extroverts, either. Extroverts also deal with a number of misconceptions in the workplace and, as a result of this new push for a more introverted workplace, are often forced to step outside their comfort zones to succeed.
According to preliminary results from a new study out of the University of Cambridge, this can be a bigger problem for Extroverts than their counterparts. Sanna Balsari-Palsule, Ph.D. surveyed 300 employees at a UK marketing firm about their personality and their work life, to determine whether acting outside your personality affects your work. Interestingly enough, early analysis of the results suggests that Extroverts suffer more than Introverts when they act outside their personalities.
What misconceptions are causing Extroverts to step outside their comfort zones at work?
Here are three of them that may be the norm in your office:
1. Extroverts are always “on.”
In a 2013 study published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, researchers showed that Extroverts are more likely to associate a rush of dopamine — the chemical that makes us feel good — with the environment they are in at that moment. In other words, they like to engage with their surroundings, and appear to be happy when surrounded by others.
Because of this tendency to receive gratification from their environment, most people believe Extroverts don’t need to be alone; they don’t need to cool down. In reality, Extroverts just manage their personality differently than Introverts. Where Introverts need low stimulus environments and quiet time, Extroverts choose to take their quiet time a little differently — and in shorter doses.
Instead of locking themselves in an office or quiet space, Extroverts may opt to work at a public table with a pair of headphones on. This is their way of “turning off” for a few minutes and focusing on their work. Just like Introverts, they need a break every once in awhile.
2. Extroverts are great presenters.
Outgoing and often dynamic, Extroverts make the best public speakers, right? Not necessarily. Just because a person is extroverted does not mean he or she will be able to present well to others.
A large part of what makes public speakers successful is stress/anxiety management. In personality typing, anxiety and coping are associated with the “Big Five” personality dimension neuroticism — with highly neurotic individuals being more prone to feelings of anxiety and stress from the outside world. The more neurotic an individual is, the more difficult it will be to get up in front of others and present.
Extroverts can be neurotic, too. They may feel comfortable in social situations where they can rely on conversation going back and forth, but public speaking is more of a one-way street. Before assuming every Extrovert on your team is the right presentor for the job, talk to them about how they feel about presenting and make sure they are comfortable doing so.
3. Extroverts don’t listen.
Extroverts are not bad listeners, and they are not selfish narcissists that only care about furthering their own agenda in the office. In fact, Extroverts can be very active, compassionate listeners and champions of their colleagues’ proposals.
While they may not sit back and listen quietly like Introverts, Extroverts have their own way of showing that they’re engaged. They question things. Extroverts excel at developing the kind of back-and-forth conversation that can really help develop an idea ‑ whether it’s theirs or not.
As author and executive coach Jennifer Kahnweiler, Ph.D., put it in an interview with Psych Central, “Extroverts…draw people out by their open-ended questions and paraphrasing,” which allows them to make the speaker comfortable and build a strong rapport. Saying things like “so tell me more about that” or “what you said reminds me of…” are an Extrovert’s way of showing their interest in what others are saying.
Just like with Introverts, people tend to paint Extroverts into a corner. They make assumptions based on traditional stereotypes that, in the end, can become huge obstacles in an Extrovert’s career. Take some time to really get to know the Extroverts in your office, so you’re not pushing them too far out of their comfort zones on a regular basis.
What misconceptions about Extroverts have you seen play out in the office?