04 Nov 2014 4 Unique communication styles of Introverts and Extroverts
4 Unique communication styles of Introverts and Extroverts
To be different is to be human. If we were all the same, it would be pretty boring after a while. Having said that, differences in personalities and communication styles can and do cause problems at work and at home.
Knowing a little about what drives these communication style differences can be especially helpful.
MBTI Myers Briggs
Whilst there are many personality assessment systems, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator is one that has stood the test of time. It is not a panacea for solving all your communication issues, but it can help us understand differences in the way people may prefer to communicate.
Being mindful of where we and others sit on the Introversion/Extroversion scale, means we can readily adjust our own preferred communication style to suit.
The MBTI® is one of the most widely used psychological instruments for self-awareness in the world today. Psychological type theory describes four pairs of preferences for:
- How you are energised (Extroversion or Introversion)
- What you pay attention to (Sensing or Intuition)
- How you make decisions (Thinking or Feeling)
- How you go about your daily life (Judging and Perceiving)
The combinations of these eight preferences results in 16 psychological or personality types, each with a natural, created way of being , each with its own distinctive approach to life. According to the MBTI framework, these differences are not wrong but are in fact to be valued.
People who prefer extroversion focus their energy on the outer world. They are more energised by being with people. In parties and social gatherings, they tend to be the more outgoing ones.
They have their own unique communication style. They tend to tell you about themselves quite easily. In meetings, they tend to speak up readily. They are generally uncomfortable with silence. They will often answer their own questions if no one else does!
They are also prone to act first, and then think afterwards! In fact they often think out aloud. That is, when they talk, they are in fact, often processing their thoughts.
On the other hand, people who prefer Introversion tend to focus their energy inwards. They are more interested in the inner world of thoughts and reflections. They like to retreat to find time to be alone and think. This tends to energise them.
They also have their own unique communication style differences. Often they are harder to get to know due to being a little more reserved. In meetings, they are often quiet and may not even seem involved. (Especially to Extroverts). They generally like time to think and gather thoughts before they have to respond.
Naturally, we all use both of these preferences at different times, but we usually prefer one over another or are more comfortable in one area than the other.
So what does this mean when communicating with someone who seems to have a completely different communication style?
Here are a few some strategies I hope you find helpful.
Communication Style Differences of Introverts
When communicating with Introverts:
- Allow them time to pause and reflect before expecting a response. This could mean sending them an email or message in advance. Agendas are very important to Introverts.
- In a meeting, you may have to ask them directly for an opinion or response. (Note that introverts are often frustrated that the conversations in meetings can tend to be dominated by extroverts.)
- Remember Introverts usually prefer intimate one to one conversations rather than a large group. You are more likely to get a response or an opinion in smaller group settings.
- In meetings or conversations, allow some space for Introverts to speak up.
Communication Style Differences of Extroverts
When communicating with Extroverts:
- Remember that what you first hear may not in fact be their final position. Often you will have to question them a little and allow them time to formulate their opinion. (Remember, this will probably be done out aloud!)
- Extroverts often do their best work in groups, they are energised by being with people, so sending them a long winded (even if well thought out) email, will often not get read.
- Allow Extroverts time to voice and re-voice their opinions whilst they gather their thoughts. Ask them if this is their final position on the matter.
- Speak Up! Introverts often need to speak up more. No one can read minds; therefore it is necessary to let Extroverts know exactly what you are thinking. Introverts, please don’t assume they have heard you.
I hope you can see how these subtle differences in communication style and preferences can often lead to misunderstandings or miscommunication.
So next time you are communicating with someone or in a group setting, consider who might be the Introverts and Extroverts in the group and adjust your communication style and strategy accordingly.
Geoff Prior – Lingford Consulting, November 2014
Workload & Email Management Training/Coaching. MBTI Consultant
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