Tag Archives: Extraversion-Introversion

6 reasons why introverts prefer to write

Lately I’ve been receiving voice-mails from one of my clients asking me to call him back to answer his questions. Not to ignore him, I have primarily responded to his calls with e-mails. This is preferable to getting caught in lengthy phone conversations during a busy time of the day.

Hands on Keyboard

Trying to make the best use of my time at work makes me think of six reasons why introverts—I’m included among them, in case you’re wondering—sometimes prefer to write rather than converse over the phone or in person.

Conversations can have no limit. Have you been involved in one-sided conversations, where you’re the one doing most of the listening? Although introverts are said to be good listeners, being treated as a sounding board is not their idea of fun.

When communication is conducted with the buffer of e-mail, it is two-way and the introvert feels engaged in the conversation.

Self-promotion is easier in writing. Some people call self-promotion bragging because it means speaking highly of themselves, but I tell them it’s not bragging if 1) it’s true and 2) you’re asked about your accomplishments.

Nonetheless, self-promotion can be uncomfortable for introverts, particularly if they have to deliver it verbally. When I want to make my manager aware of an accomplishment, I shoot her an e-mail.

Writing is less exhausting. An introvert feels like he’s on stage when he has to talk at extended lengths of time. An extravert doesn’t want to leave the stage.

The act of speaking is not problematic for the introvert, it’s sustaining the conversations over a long period of time that drains their batteries. Writing gives introverts a welcome break from hours of speaking.

Writing gives introverts time to think. Introverts prefer to think before speaking, while extraverts sometimes speak before thinking. We tolerate the chatty extraverts—it’s their nature. But an introvert doesn’t want to be misunderstood and writing prevents this.

One strength I admire about the extravert is her propensity for small talk, because I struggle with it. But when it comes to writing, I can write my thoughts in my own sweet time.

Writing is required to conduct a successful job search and succeed in business. That’s only part of it, though. Great verbal communication skills are necessary in networking, telephone communications, and of course the interview.

But when it comes to writing a résumé , cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and other correspondences, an introvert is at his best. At work the introvert feels most creative when he writes. He’d rather have time to reflect; leave the brainstorming to the extravert.

Writing is fun. I know I don’t speak for all introverts, but some consider writing as a release of creativity and a way to express their thoughts to a larger audience.

Because you blog, write novels or poems, or simply keep a diary; does that mean you’re an introvert? Of course not. There are plenty of extraverts who love to write. I just happen to be one who enjoys writing every day. Call me nuts.


I remember a time in college when a schoolmate asked me what I thought was more important, verbal or written communications. I immediately said “written communications,” and he argued for verbal communications.

His argument was sound and he spoke compassionately about being able to address audiences real-time. I was taken off-guard and was unprepared to make my remarks. As I was leaving the room, he seemed to be talking unaware of my absence.

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8 networking tips for introverts

Eric Qualman

And how not to arrive to an event unprepared.

I was once given a ticket to a guest-speaker event put on for a group of young professionals in my community. I was excited and grateful for the opportunity because I’d be seeing Erik Qualman speak about social media—Erik wrote Socialnomics and is a great speaker. I would be able to sit comfortably and listen to an expert on social networking entertain me. So I thought.

When I arrived at the event I discovered there would be a networking hour preceding it, and that I was woefully under-dressed. My vision of kicking back and listening to a great speaker was dashed when I entered a hallway full of people dressed to the nines engaged in conversation. I promptly went to the men’s room, looked at my sad self in the mirror, and exited the building.

I needed air. It took me a few minutes to collect myself and prepare for an unfamiliar group of well-dressed people I’d be meeting (or hiding from). I was starting to feel like I was in a dream where I was in one of my workshops dressed in my underwear only. But I promptly reentered the building and (luckily) spotted someone I knew.

From this incident, I have eight tips to help introverts prepare for a networking event, not simply go with eyes closed—I’m proof of this.

  1. Know what’s on the agenda. In retrospect the first thing I should have asked when accepting the ticket to this event was what kind of event it was going to be. Instead I gratefully accepted the ticket  from a benefactor, failing to ask the nature of the event.
  2. Ask if there’s a dress code. Had I known there was going to be a networking session before the speaker went on, I would have dressed better. There’s nothing more distracting than knowing you’re under dressed for a networking event. (Again, I think of that horrible dream of walking into one of my workshops dressed only in my underwear.
  3. Go with business cards. I have business cards for work as well as personal business cards, none of which were on my person. Had I known what was going to precede the speaking event, I would have brought a set of business cards. There is nothing worse than someone handing you his/her business card and having to say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t bring my cards with me.”
  4. Bring a buddy. Go to the event with someone or arrange to meet a person or two there. Perhaps there’s a person or two you’re interested in meeting for the first time. Reach out to see if they’er going. It’s assuring to know there will be someone you can speak with after you’ve made an initial connection. Warning: don’t stick together like groupies. Spread out.
  5. Make a soft introduction to the speaker. For introverts the soft introduction, via e-mail or LinkedIn, is a great way to introduce themselves to someone at an event. If possible, contact the person who’ll be speaking at the event. This takes some of the pressure off of approaching the person for the first time.
  6. You don’t have to stay until the end. It’s not like when you closed the bar during your college days. Oh, you didn’t do that? In any case, don’t feel like you have to stay to the end. There have been many times when I had such a great time at a networking event that I ended up staying the whole time. “Is it really time to go?”
  7. Mentally prepare for the event. Introverts have to develop a “Just do it” attitude. We need to prep ourselves to get outside our comfort zone, which includes preparing for small talk, not relying on seeing a room full of familiar faces. Preparing for a networking event might begin hours before the event, or, for some, days beforehand.
  8. Prepare an exit strategy. Related to number six, when you find yourself cornered by a selfish (did I say that) attendee who thinks he’s the center of the Universe and will not stop talking, you need a phrase to separate yourself from him. “It was great talking with you. I was planning to meet someone and I’d like to speak with her. (This is where your buddy can come in handy.)

The evening turned out to be great fun for me. I spoke to people who were no more prepared than me and others who were there to work the room. When I re-entered at the beginning of the event, I knew there was no turning back; and I’m glad I didn’t. One thing I wish I had done that evening was stay for the food, which looked awesome.

A major victory: I connected with a man who needed some work to be done on his LinkedIn profile. Had I not been there, I never would have run into him and earned his business.

Photo: Flickr, Girişimo

Introvert or extravert? Maybe you’re an ambivert

And how being an ambivert can help in your job search.

I conduct a poll at the beginning of my Myers-Briggs Type Indicator workshop. I ask my attendees to write on the back of a piece of paper if they had the choice to be an introvert or extravert, what they would choose. What do you think they choose? Easily nine out of 10 would prefer to be an extravert.

ambiverts

Their reasons for preferring to be an extravert (remember, we don’t have the option) vary from: extraverts are well liked; they make better small talk; they’re not shy; they get ahead at work; and, by large consensus, their lives are easier.

There’s good news for my attendees if they’re labeled as a slight introvert, they are an ambivert. Susan Cain’s newsletter explains it this way:

Based on your responses, you’re an ambivert. That means you fall smack in the middle of the introvert-extrovert spectrum. In many ways, ambiverts have the best of both worlds, able to tap into the strengths of both introverts and extroverts as needed. See below for information on introverts and extroverts; you’ll likely see part of yourself in both.

Although the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator doesn’t recognize it as a dichotomy, author Daniel Pink writes about the ambivert in To Sell is Human.

In his book Pink claims it’s not very clear extraverts, nor very clear introverts, who make better salespeople. It’s ambiverts who are better at selling (moving). Ambiverts are more balanced and therefore make better salespeople. (Take the assessment here to see if you’re an ambivert.)

Pink writes:

“Extroverts can talk too much and listen too little, [and] overwhelm others with the force of their personalities.” On the other hand, “Introverts can be shy to initiate, too skittish to deliver unpleasant news and too timid to close the deal,” but ambiverts “know when to speak up and when to shut up, when to inspect and when to respond, when to push and when to hold back.”

According to Pink, one out of nine people are proclaimed salespeople, but in actuality nine of nine people are salespeople because they are moving others. This is especially important to job seekers who have to move others while exercising their marketing plan, e.g., their written and verbal communication skills.

When we talk about introversion and extraversion, it generally comes down to energy level or re-charging one’s battery. Extraverts are said to have abundant energy, especially around crowds. Their batteries are re-charged by being with many people.

Introverts are more reserved and prefer smaller groups, which don’t drain their batteries. They need their alone time and, because of this may be seen as reclusive. Stealing away at times recharges the introvert’s battery.

Ambiverts adopt the traits of each side of the continuum; their batteries are charged by being with many people or being alone.

How this helps in the job search

As a general rule, extraverts prefer to communicate orally with others and tend to be more comfortable with small talk. They enjoy the back-and-forth banter. Introverts would rather communicate through writing and that’s how they learn best. Small talk can be more of a challenge for them.

Ambiverts are comfortable with both

Ambiverts have the energy extraverts have to attend networking events. They don’t give into the temptation to blow off an event after a hard day of looking for work. Ambiverts are also more open to meeting with someone for an informational meeting, whereas introverts may be a bit reluctant.

Written communications is generally considered a strength of introverts. They love the time to collect their thoughts and then write them down. Generally extraverts are impatient with written words; they prefer speaking to learn. Ambiverts also excel at writing their resumes, LinkedIn profile, and other written communications.

Do ambiverts exist?

Ambiversion is widely considered to be a farce by many members of the LinkedIn group I’m a member of, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Assessment, who claim you prefer one or the other. Yes, we have the ability to utilize all traits on the spectrum, but the consensus among the group is an ambivert doesn’t exist.

One member writes: “…I’m not offended by the word ‘ambivert’ but I do think it dismisses the idea embedded into the MBTI that we all have innate preferences and can learn to utilize skills from other parts of what are truly the spectrum, not dichotomies.”

Another member of the group explains we have a preference for introversion OR extraversion, while some are more comfortable adapting the traits of the other type. Ambiversion is merely a term to explain this: “We all have an innate preference for extraversion OR introversion. Someone with a level of type development that allows them to comfortably and adeptly execute behaviors associated with BOTH preferences is an ambivert.”


My take on all of this is that an introvert can utilize the traits of an extravert and vise versa, and should feel secure with this knowledge. However, if he/she doesn’t like to be labeled an introvert, there’s always the ambivert title to fall back on. Now, a true student of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator would tell Mr. Pink he’s practicing poetic license.

5 reasons why what you know about your introversion can limit you

BrainstormingFortuneLiveMediaToday I think about how being mindful of  my preference for introversion may affect my actions. Like a self-fulfilling prophesy, this knowledge occupies my thoughts and sometimes prevents me from doing what I’d like to, what I should do. So the question is would it be better to be ignorant of who I am?

How I direct my energy. Because I’m an introvert, I should prefer not going to an evening business networking event after a hard day at work. Introverts should take time to recharge their battery, not exert themselves by socializing after a day of being around people.

Instead: I have the energy to attend social or networking events despite believing that my energy should be saved for reading a good book on my Kindle, while munching on Gummy Bears. I must fight the generalization.

How I communicate. Extraverts rule the world when it comes to small talk. Because I’m an introvert, my ability to make small talk consists of 140 characters of carefully chosen words. Entering a room full of strangers, expected to make small talk, should make me anxious and want to run from the room screaming like a lunatic.

Instead: I can make small talk with the best of them, as long as I’m not battling a motor mouth for airtime. I’ve often dominated the conversation in the lunchroom much to the surprise of my colleagues. I must fight the belief.

How I listen. As an introvert, I’m supposed to listen to people…and like it? Accordingly I should actively listen and wait until the person has said his/her 5,000 words. Extraverts, according to common belief, are off the hook when it comes to listening intently–they’re free to talk nonstop because…that’s the way it is.

Instead: I find it hard to listen to people who believe they’re all that. If there were an off button on some of the loquacious Neanderthals I meet, my right index finger would ache. I am totally cool listening to people who believe in equal rights in conversation. I must politely end a one-sided conversation, as well as be cognizant of my over talking.

How I learn best. Introverts are said to learn best through writing and research, rather than by talking to others. This implies that we’d rather receive e-mails than talk with our colleagues’ in their cubicles.

Instead: It is true that I enjoy writing, but I don’t get my kicks by spending a whole day at my computer researching topics like the Sabin Oxley Act and writing a 30-page whitepaper on it. I like talking with my colleagues as long as it’s productive and doesn’t drain my time, so I must extend my self more often.

How about those meetings. Apparently I can’t participate at meetings because I think too much before talking and, thus, lose my chance to express my brilliant thoughts. The same goes for brainstorming. When others are coming up with hundreds of ideas and throwing spaghetti against the wall, I’m supposed to remain quiet until I have an idea that will stick.

Instead: While it’s true that some extraverts suck the air out of a meeting room, I can throw my weight around as good as the next guy. True, I’m not a fan of brainstorming, but sometimes it works if facilitated by the right person. Instead of over thinking, I must speak up more often and express my great thoughts.

I’ll be the first to admit that knowing the characteristics of an introvert sometimes shapes my actions at work, as well as in my daily life. I wonder how I’d act if I was ignorant of who I am. Would I act more like an extravert? Nah.

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2 facts about how introverts communicate and network

introvertnetworking

Career advisors, when advising certain jobseekers, have you ever noticed that small talk–breadth of knowledge–is not their forte? Rather they’d prefer to talk about more substantive topics–depth of knowledge–and appreciate the time to formulate their thoughts before talking. What you get from them is rich, deep discussion that’s very purposeful.

Have you also noticed they don’t seem excited when you encourage them to network? It’s not their thing, entering a room full of strangers with whom they have nothing in common. It drains their energy even thinking about it. They may tell you they’d rather walk over burning coals than attend an organized networking event.

If they exhibit these behaviors, it’s likely they’re introverts (read this post from the Huffington Post) and may not realize this, unless they’ve taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I didn’t know my preference for introversion until I took the MBTI when I was 45-years-old. And when I got my results I was shocked because I considered myself to be outgoing.


Communicating

As you’re meeting with your jobseekers, be mindful of how they communicate with you. Introverts are innate listeners who are not as comfortable with small talk as their counterpart, the extraverts, who are quick to start the conversation and would like you to listen. Your conversation with introverts will be deep and thought provoking, but you’ll most likely have to jump-start it.

The best approach to take with an introvert is to start the discussion by stating some observations and then following up with questions. Now stand back and wait for your introverted jobseeker to deliver some insightful statements. Try not to interrupt.

For example, “After looking at your résumé/LinkedIn profile, I am impressed with the detail in which you describe your past jobs. You list a great number of duties. But what I’d like to see are some more accomplishments. What do you think?”

This question gives them the open door to express their thoughts. “I see your point, and I think I could explain how I was close to 100% accurate in my accounting responsibilities. In fact, I was often acknowledged for this and won ‘Employee of the Month’ many times.” You give your jobseeker the opportunity to express her thoughts, and then you do what any good counselor does, sit back and listen.

Joyce Shelleman, Ph.D, offers this sage advice: “Offer [introverts] the opportunity to follow-up with you the next day with any additional questions or thoughts. It usually takes time for an introvert to think of all the things that they want to communicate if they haven’t been able to anticipate your question in advance.”

Networking

It’s no secret that structured networking makes many people uncomfortable, especially introverts. One quote I share with my workshop attendees is from Liz Lynch, Smart Networking: “At the first networking event I ever attended by myself, I lasted five minutes—including the four minutes it took me to check my coat.” This quote clearly illustrates how networking for the first time can be like trying to speak another language.

Now imagine how an introvert feels presented with the prospect of entering a roomful of strangers, expected to make small talk, and (most difficult) promoting himself. He will feel tired just thinking about having to talk to people he doesn’t know, particularly after a day full of looking for work. He may also experience bouts of reluctance prior to a morning networking event.

But here’s the thing; networking is a vital tool in the job search and it’s your job to encourage your introverted jobseeker to attend networking events. Suggest 5 points of attack:

  1. Tell him to have a goal of how many people he’ll talk to at the event. If three is what he decides, that’s fine. Introverts prefer to talk to fewer people and engage in deep, thoughtful conversations.
  2. Suggest that he takes a friend or two. There’s more comfort in having someone by his side to talk with if things are not going as planned. Advise him, however, not to spend all his time at the event with his networking buddy.
  3. Provide encouragement by reminding him that he should focus on asking open-ended questions and listening carefully to what others say. People like to be listened to, and introverts are great listeners.
  4. Enforce upon him that he doesn’t have to be fake; rather he should be natural when speaking with other networkers. He doesn’t have to launch into his 30-second commercial as soon as he meets each person, which will serve to push people away.
  5. Lastly, he doesn’t have to be the last one to leave; although, he might be the one to close the joint if he’s having a grand time. This is in the realm of possibility.

As a career advisor, be cognizant of how introverts communicate. Give them space to express their thoughts and remember that the meetings you have are not about you; they’re about helping your jobseeker express their thoughts so you can better help them. Networking can be unpleasant unless the introvert has realistic expectations, so remind him that he’s in control of the situation.

Book Cover

The struggle between introverts and extraverts

ActorI’m an introvert with a strong preference for thinking, which, in short, means I’m a fan of action and not a great deal of talking.

This sometimes irritates people in my life who desire unceasing conversation and can’t understand my need for silence and reflecting.

My attention span for people who talk incessantly is as short as a gnat’s life; unless I’m enthralled in the conversation.

I recently read an article called The Extroverted Introvert (note I’ll spell it “extravert”) in which the author talks about the introvert’s need to adapt to our society’s preference for extraverts. In other words we become actors to satisfy people who prefer conversation over action.

“Many of us don’t like social mingling.  It’s a labor to us, a chore, and frequently a curse.  We look at it with dread and we feel drained already by the looming prospect.  But in order to do what we want and get places in life, we must form connections with others.  This is where the extroverted introvert contradiction comes into play,” the author writes.

For introverts enduring incessant talking or being “forced” into conversing, this can be a demand on their patience. Someone like me in this situation will try to find the exit (figuratively and literally) as quickly as possible. There’s no disputing that introverts are different than extraverts when it comes to communicating.

Solitude is golden to an introvert

Introverts value their solitude and will go out of their way to get it. I think of the times I leave work to get a coffee and traverse the sidewalk that leads to my favorite coffee house, blinders on and walking at a cheetah’s pace. Eddie, my favorite server, is always ready to engage in conversation; I’m not. My answers are short. I don’t stand around to talk. I’m alone in my privates space, even though I’m among other consumers. There are times when I feel like talking, but usually I’ve determined that before I enter the building.

Whereas extraverts prefer to communicate through talking, introverts would rather communicate through writing. Writing allows introverts the freedom to gather their thoughts before sharing them with the world. I often tell my MBTI workshop attendees that I think I’m a better writer than speaker because of the aforementioned reason.

The ideal conversation for introverts

Introverts totally dig discussions with people with whom they want to talk. Doesn’t everyone, you might think? Yes, even extraverts prefer to talk with people of interest, but they tend to be more inclined to talk to more people than introverts would. They like talking and enjoy being with people. When introverts are presented with a situation where talking for the sake of talking is in order, it’s annoying and they’re looking for that exit.

Introverts sometimes feel trapped

I suppose everyone feels trapped at times, but introverts feel this sensation more often, especially when they have work to do and are being intruded upon by someone who won’t stop talking. If there’s a diplomatic way to say, “Leave my space immediately,” introverts would use it quite often. I haven’t mastered the exit phrases that don’t offend intrusive people, which might be due to my fear of seeming rude.

One of my extraverted colleagues often stands in the entrance of my cube when I am working intently on assignments. He shows no intentions of leaving my space as he talks about topics that are interesting only to him. He doesn’t take the hints I clearly give, such as turning my attention to my computer screen, or responding with “um,” “right,” “sure”–he continued to talk.

Introverts sometimes come across as aloof

What’s mistaken for aloofness is introverts taking advantage of their alone time or, what’s known as recharging their batteries. Introverts’ method of recharging their battery might confuse, or even offend, extraverts who recharge their battery by being with people.  My colleague, Dorothy Tannahill-Moran, wrote an article, The Introvert’s Guide to Networking and Relationships, in which she aptly puts the importance of introvert’s relating to extraverts this way:

“Even though you may get impatient with conversations that don’t seem to have a purpose, you need to understand that for others, talking out loud is part of the process of thinking, validating and relating. You do this mostly internally. You need to develop patience and consider participating, because to the extrovert this is relating and developing relationships.” 

Introverts often feel like they’re on stage

Unfortunately, the extraverted world is not yet willing to value introverted differences; rather extraverts expect introverts to fall in line and communicate like them. Introverts just don’t know how to make the extraverts see communication the way they prefer it. People who are proficient at listening and intuition, introverts and extraverts alike, are those who feel no need to make others conform to their way of dialog.

It seems unfair that introverts are made to feel different, if not odd. But this goes to show us how powerful the spoken word is. When I was in college, my roommate asked me what I thought was more important for success, written or verbal communication. I quickly answered the former, and he argued the latter. I should have taken this as a warning that I was in for a lifetime of being on stage.

Misconceptions about introverts. 4 facts about both types

I always want to know the inner thoughts of people, so on occasion I’ll ask my Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) workshop attendees if they had their choice what they would prefer, introversion or extraversion.

Most of the participants enthusiastically say they’d prefer the latter. Usually these are the true extraverts or extravert wannabees–the introverts, secure in who they are, don’t volunteer their opinion quickly.

My next line of inquiry would be asking the group how extraverts are perceived by society. Usually the extraverts and wannabees are the first to speak. They each take turns extolling the characteristics of the extravert: fun…outgoing…full of energy…friendly…confident…they like to party…loud….

Fair enough. Now I ask the group how they perceive the introverts; again the ones who speak up first are usually the extraverts and wannabees who talk without giving it much thought: shy…quiet…secretive…withdrawn…boring…don’t say much….The introverts reserve their comments for a better time to speak.

I help the group to see a pattern; extraverts are described in more favorable terms, save for “loud”; while introverts are described in negative terms, save for “quiet.” Enough articles have dispelled the belief that introverts are shy, secretive, withdrawn, and boring; but society still sees them as the less desirable of the two…ergo my attendees’ desired preference for extraversion.

Here are some facts we learn about both dichotomies:

  1. Extraverts are talkers and learn best by bouncing ideas off one another; introverts prefer written communications and enjoy the process of researching on their own.
  2. Extraverts are great with small talk, the envy of introverts; but introverts are known for their capacity to listen.
  3. Extraverts feel confident in large groups, whereas introverts prefer smaller more intimate groups. This is not to say, however, that introverts can’t function in large groups–it takes more effort and getting outside their comfort zone.
  4. Extraverts are uncomfortable with silence, while introverts relish it. Introverts feel no need to fill empty space and need time to re-charge their batteries.

Perhaps because my workshop group trashes introverts, or because I’m an introvert, I feel the need to defend the less desired of the two. I stress that introverts can be outgoing and fun…for a certain amount of time. Then it’s time to recharge their battery. Read an article,  7 things extroverts should know about introverts (and visa versa)on how extraverts and introverts can better understand each other’s behavior.

It’s not that introverts are necessarily quiet, don’t talk, or are boring; they like to process information before speaking. What they say can be as brilliant as what extraverts say; introverts just say it when they’re ready. (Unfortunately we sometimes miss the window of opportunity.) The article mentioned above says it nicely, “If you want to hear what we have to say, give us time to say it. We don’t fight to be heard over other people. We just clam up.”

The final question I ask the group after we’ve discussed the accurate personality traits of both factors is, “What do you think I am, an introvert or extravert?”

Usually the extraverts and wannabees say without thinking, “Definitely extravert. How could you get up there and talk if you are an introvert?” Others who have been paying attention and shuck off the stereotypes say I’m an introvert who has the ability to demonstrate more “extravert” type tendencies. These are the introverts who speak up with conviction. And they’re correct.

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