How to Work with Introverts and Extroverts


When I met my wife years ago, she would periodically comment that I was an extroverted introvert. I found her observation puzzling because I considered myself a thorough introvert. After considering this over time, however, I began to agree. I do enjoy my quiet time and prefer to work in a quiet environment. But when I find myself around other people, I enjoy their company and am also energized by it.

The general traits of introversion and extroversion could have some implications in the work setting, which I think is worth examining. Through my own experience and study of psychology, I regard each major personality type by how the individual recharges their battery. The extroverted charge up by being around people and activity while introverts prefer solitude and quiet. I think that if we gain an awareness of how our general personality type fits into the workplace, we can more fully use strengths to the advantage of all.

Borrowing again from a previous article about physical space, finance people generally are more productive and comfortable in a quiet space somewhat separate from other functions. The type of work that finance professionals do requires an environment which allows for focus on accounting, budgets and reports. This may seem obvious but what may not seem so apparent is that there is a somewhat introverted personality trait involved with finance and IT work.

The preferred method of communication may be email with this group. This is contrasted with personalities which are more outward facing; people who are comfortable or even energized by being around others while they work and having accompanying communication preferences. These are the personality types who are most efficient working on tasks and projects while having conversations or verbal communication with others.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not assigning value to the general traits of introversion and extroversion. Each has its equal value and furthermore, many people are a blend of both. Though everyone has predominance to one or the other at varying degrees. The reason that I find interest in this topic is that I have worked in both finance and in management within program areas in government and have found that each function seems to work better for one or the other skillset and personality type.

So, let us celebrate and leverage our own personality type as we as we keep in mind the strength of others and how they best contribute. Whether working in the buzz of everyday tasks or in the quiet of a more relaxed setting and written communication, the world needs both introverts and extroverts.

Tim Dendy is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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