When attending a work party, do you thrive in the social scene, or does the thought of mingling make you nervous? In business meetings, do you tend to feel energized, or does the constant interaction make you feel burnt out? The answers to these questions might determine whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. When taking inventory of your staff, it’s important to consider these two personality types and their place in the workplace. Both introverts and extroverts have strengths that can help them flourish in certain work situations, but both types have different needs and expectations.

So what makes a person an introvert and what makes a person an extrovert? Typically, we identify introverts as being quiet and shy, while extroverts are loud and outgoing. But this not always the case. According to Carl Jung, 20th century psychologist who popularized this personality theory, introversion and extroversion refer to where individuals find their flow of energy. Extroverts are energized by people and the outside world, therefore they seem to thrive in social situations. Introverts turn to their inner world to gain energy, and often times recharge by spending time alone.

How do introverts and extroverts differ in the workplace?  This simple guide will help you understand the differences between the two, and how you can best manage each of them.


Strengths and Weaknesses

In a work setting, an extrovert’s greatest strength is his ability to network. Making conversation tends to come easily to extroverts, therefore they look forward to being in a setting where they can mix and mingle with potential networking contacts. Extroverts also love situations where they can collaborate with a group. They can think on their feet and are tenacious about presenting their ideas.

However, an extrovert’s weaknesses are usually a result of their strengths. Because they are so stimulated by variety in the outside world, they have a very high arousal base, meaning they tend to get bored very easily. Though they are excellent at conversation, they may not always be good listeners, which is why many of their relationships stay at a superficial level. It’s important for extroverts to find a balance between talking and listening in order to become a resource for others, as well as maintain a solid meaningful relationship.

Working with Extroverts

Working with extroverts can be intimidating because they have a lot of ideas, but remember to give them direction and feedback to keep their ideas focused, not scattered. Let them dive right in to a variety of projects to keep them stimulated and productive, and give them the chance to collaborate with a team as often as possible.


Strengths and Weaknesses

Introverts are often more productive because they thrive in quiet situations and have a lower base of arousal, meaning they can sit at a desk alone and work, yet still feel stimulated and energized. Introverts tend to reflect on one idea at a time, and genuinely listen to and seek to understand the world around them.

Introverts may doubt their ideas and opinions because they are not as vocal and forward about them as extroverts. They also tend to get  burnt out by business meetings and interaction, which makes it hard for them to network and make a good impression in a professional setting.

Working with Introverts

Though they may seem closed off at times, introverts are actually very easy to work with. They may seem like they don’t like you, but don’t take it personally; that’s just how they like to work. Remember that introverts just need space and time to recharge, so don’t force them to attend meetings or events that they don’t necessarily have to. They may not be as outspoken about their input and opinions as extroverts are, so go out of your way to ask for it. Their ideas are just as valuable, they may just not feel comfortable vocalizing them unsolicited.

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