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Working with Introverts and Extroverts

Generally speaking, extroverts get their energy from social interaction while introverts recharge with quiet or alone time. But the truth is, this understanding only touches the surface of introverts and extroverts and their personality traits.

Consider these examples:

Introverts

  • Crave alone time
  • Get excited by ideas (internal activity)
  • Gain energy through inner reflection and solitude
  • Feel drained after socializing, even if they enjoyed it
  • Prefer a few deep relationships instead of many casual ones

Extroverts

  • Crave people and activity
  • Get excited by external activity
  • Gain energy from socialization
  • Feel drained with too much alone time
  • May always seem “on the go”
  • Can come across as confident, friendly and assertive

It is important to understand these traits, but to also consider that an individual’s personality type is not absolute. Instead, it exists on a spectrum. You can move up and down the spectrum throughout your life or even your day. However, there are real differences in the brains of introverts and extroverts. These differences do not mean one type is smarter or better. They are simply differences between the two.

  • In Introvert Advantage, Dr. Marti Laney explains extroverts are less sensitive to dopamine, a chemical in the brain that makes us feel happy when we act quickly, take risks or seek novelty. Therefore, someone who is extroverted needs to talk, move and socialize more than an introvert to feel the pleasant effects of dopamine.
  • On the other hand, too much dopamine can overstimulate introverts. So, when they read, concentrate or spend time alone thinking, their brains release a chemical that is more subtle than dopamine, making them feel relaxed, alert and content.

Because most people spend the bulk of their days at work, it is important to know the personality of each member of your team so you can place your employees in the right roles, have appropriate expectations of their actions and needs and not mistake their natural processing – whether internally or externally – as something it is not.

Want to learn more about how introverts and extroverts offer unique skill sets to your team? Join this Blue Cross® Virtual Well-Being webinar to discuss the differences between introvert and extrovert employees and how you can modify the way you interact with each to bring about positive and productive results. You can also sign up for future employer-focused and general interest webinars here, where you’ll also find past sessions and resources.

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