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Welcome to this issue of our free E-zine, People Skills for Skilled People!
In this issue, and in the next three to follow, we’re going to take a look at several pairs of psychological patterns, clarified through the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator™, that have a huge impact on how all of us communicate. We frequently see the first pair (Extraversion and Introversion) played out in social situations. And they’re summed up by the question:
“Do We Get To Go,” or “Do We Have To Go?”
Your answer to this question not only identifies what kind of partygoer you are but typifies which of two very different and distinct approaches to communication you favor. That is:
Are you an Extravert or are you an Introvert?
By identifying which of these two you are, we can tell you an amazing amount about how you and others communicate. Anyone who has taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator™ has a pretty good idea of what these terms mean, but for the rest of you, this article will be truly eye-opening. Managers who have a good grasp of these opposites hold an incredibly valuable key to building rapport with others and motivating them. They also possess a way to enhance their own executive presence, sophistication, and “polish.” [Note: Myers-Briggs professionals use the less common spelling "extraversion" and "extravert" with an "a."]
The effective executive sees the impact of extraversion and introversion in several areas, which we will call “styles.”
Extraverts and introverts deal with personal energy in predictable ways, and how they deal with it affects every other style. To extraverts, energy (including physical energy) is limitless. They’re shocked when their introverted colleagues reply that energy is highly limited. (The introvert’s definition of death could simply be when you finally totally run out of energy!). Take the telephone. The typical extravert is energized by each successive phone call, while the introvert does everything possible to avoid calls (introverts LOVE email! You get to communicate while remaining so delightfully alone). To “recharge their batteries,” extraverts need activity and people—just the things that drain the introvert’s “batteries.” Introverts renew their energy by being alone.
Our title says it all: the extravert “gets to go” to a party or social function, and the introvert “has to go.” Then, once the introvert realizes she’s been there “long enough,” she’ll say to her partner, “Do we get to go home now?”, to which her extraverted companion replies, “We don’t have to go yet. We just got here!”
On the most basic level, we see how differently extraverts and introverts deal with sharing information. Because they get their energy from outside themselves, extraverts usually have a good grasp on how much information their colleagues need, then supply it. In the extreme, extraverts can fall into giving you an “information dump.” Introverts don’t read others’ needs as well, hence often give too little information. Ever had a conversation with your introverted car mechanic about what’s wrong with your car? When he promised to call you with a report, did he? And when he did, how much detail did he give you? Did you have to pull every bit of information out of him with numerous questions? You know what I mean.
The Russians have an expression that in translation goes, “What he has on his mind is on his tongue.” The typical extravert’s brain is hard-wired to his tongue. Ask any extravert, and he or she will tell you that speaking out a thought pattern helps clarify it and engage others in the process. Introverts are used to figuring things out by themselves. They wait until they’ve thought through an idea before presenting it to anyone else. These habits of mind pour over into the next two styles:
Extraverts like to engage their audiences. The interaction gives them a big charge. They establish good eye contact, so much so that audience members often feel that the extravert gave the talk directly to them. Extraverts can often get up to speak at a moment’s notice, believing they’re already prepared, or if they aren’t, somehow the words will be there. Introverts have a deeply felt need to be prepared. They will stay glued to pages of hardcopy notes, focusing more on them than on the audience.
An amazing phenomenon happens when extraverts and introverts come together in a meeting, particularly when its purpose is to solve a problem. The extraverts begin talking immediately and “brainstorming” the issue. After all, they get their energy from the group process, and feel they show their colleagues great respect by involving them immediately. The introverts, predictably, hang back. Their “take” on the situation is that they are showing respect to their extraverted colleagues by not putting out half-thought-through ideas (remember, they need to be prepared and are used to thinking things out for themselves). The result is a Catch-22. Both sides think they’re showing respect to the other, and both sides are concluding that their counterparts aren’t “team players.” The extraverts think the introverts don’t want to join in, and the introverts think the extraverts are wasting time “jabbering.” When building a team, extraverts will seek to tap the resources of everyone. The introverts will often wait to see what’s happening.
Extraverts with their outward-directed interests have long since learned to read body language well. Not so the introverts. A great example happens when Jan (a massive extravert) and I (Neal, a massive introvert) go into a restaurant. Often by the time we reach the table, Jan says, “Did you get a load of that young couple to the right as we walked through the restaurant? Boy, was she giving him the royal freeze-out!” Guess what I answer back. You guessed it. “What couple?” Pop quiz. Why do extraverts go to restaurants? You guessed it again: for a social experience, right? Why do introverts go to a restaurant. You guessed that, too: TO EAT!
Extraverts and introverts differ on a number of other styles also.
Work style. Extraverts can juggle a lot of balls in the air at once. Introverts specialize in concentrating on one thing at a time.
Interpersonal style. Extraverts easily converse with a number of people at once. Introverts meet off in a corner with other introverts for deep conversations. Extraverts are WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) people. They’re easy to get to know, particularly because of that “hardwired tongue!” Introverts are great people, too, and as one of them would typically add, “once you get to know me” (which can take a while).
Conflict-handling style. Extraverts are likely to openly confront and deal with conflict. Introverts, again predictably, will avoid conflicts, sometimes at all costs.
These two styles account for the greatest achievement and the knottiest problems in executive life. The leader who can make the most of these very different styles can take his or her team to the heights.
In our next issue, we’ll look at the next Myers-Briggs pair, Sensing and Intuition, and show how they determine what we see and what we don’t. Till then,
Yours in great communication,
Jan and Neal Palmer
Interested in learning more about how we use Myers-Briggs to help train executives in interpersonal communication, public speaking, and team-building? Give us a call at (800) 410-4CEI (4234) or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be glad to talk with you.
And that's our People Skills for Skilled People for today!
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