Communication Tip: Introvert or Extravert as an Effective Communicator?

Tips for Using Your Preferences to Optimize Your Performance With Internal Communications. 

Whether you identify as an introvert or an extravert, we know that the self-awareness is a measure of your preferences and not necessarily your behaviors. We also know that when we are stressed it is easy to default to our preferences whether they are adaptive or not. Communication is necessary and brings results we need, but is sometimes stressful and there is no doubt certain behaviors lead to greater (or lesser) success. The following observations are based solely on the experiences and observations of Change Management Communications Center, LLC and are in no way formally studied or “scientific”.  However, we hope they will still help you have more rewarding and successful Internal Communication experiences as possible.

Introverts:  You are energized from your inner world more so than the outside world so tend to be more quiet and contemplative.

Strengths – You may think about your customers’ problems and your plans more completely before sharing them and thus appear more independent and knowledgeable if you speak up. You may be more observant during business encounters such as meetings and in-person handoffs as you may be less engaged in talking and more engaged in observing.

Pitfalls – If you don’t speak up and share your thoughts, at best your team won’t know how you are doing, but at worst this can be perceived as disinterest. You may feel more comfortable being off on your own quietly reading or getting your work done, but if others can’t find you or don’t know what you’ve been doing, you may not seem like a “team player”. Oral presentations may be one of the most stressful aspects of work and as a subject matter expert for you. You may also find it difficult to find enough quiet time to prepare.

Tips:

  1.   Make sure you make lots of eye contact and smile, particularly if you are on a more extroverted team.
  2. Practice presentations by yourself or with someone you feel comfortable with before you present to the team.
  3. Make sure you are sharing your thoughts with your immediate supervisors even if it is one-on-one outside of team activities.
  4. Do your quiet reading where team members can find you and share what you are reading (even if it’s simply bringing in an article you think is relevant or a written outline and samples of a special case study during a team meeting).
  5. Ask how you can help often as this conveys a sense of interest and caring no matter how quiet you are by nature.
  6. Ask for specific feedback about your level of engagement- don’t expect people to volunteer that they think you are too quiet or not engaged enough.  They still may place it on your evaluation if asked by others!
  7. Team work is critical in medicine so it is not bragging when you let team members know what you’ve been doing.

Extroverts: You are energized by being around others and the outside world so you will tend to thrive in the team-based settings of work like meetings, social events, and interactions with customers.

Strengths – Engagement with people, whether customers or team members, is a major part of business and you thrive being around people. You will tend to rapidly integrate into teams and enjoy speaking with customers and team members. You will not be as intimidated by presentations or asking for help. You also will tend to be quicker to speak up whether it is when being asked by another person or by simply letting the team know what you’ve been up to. This is frequently interpreted by team members as being very interesting and engaged, which is a good thing.

Pitfalls – At times you may be too quick to speak up or ask questions before thinking about what you plan to say or how to find the information yourself. If done too frequently, this can be interpreted as being too dependent on the team for answers or as being less knowledgeable (if you are frequently blurting out wrong answers as you talk through a problem).

Tips:

  1. Use your outgoing nature to facilitate communication among the team and advocate for your customers.
  2. If you are paired with a quieter co-worker or team in general, watch that you don’t dominate discussions too much as this can be interpreted as being a gunner.
  3. Be careful that you do not interrupt customers or team members in your enthusiasm to be involved in the work that needs to be done.
  4. If you tend to have a particularly vibrant and enthusiastic personality, be very careful about tempering it in the presence of customers and coworkers who are in distress or more reserved as it can seem overwhelming at best and insensitive at worst.