I’ve sometimes struggled with being an extrovert in an introvert-dominant workplace. It’s funny because if you research “how to thrive in an introverted world” it’s hard to find anything. There’s more advice given to the introvert on how to deal in an extroverted world.
What about us extroverts? How can we be more respectful and thrive with those who focus more on their mental energy than physical energy?
Here are 4 ways you may be causing stress and discomfort to the introverts in your life, and how you can address those.
1. Watch Your Volume
No matter what you do, no matter how quiet you think you’re trying to be, to an introvert, you’re always too loud. And to an introvert, loudness can feel akin to a physical force.
I’ve found I could walk into a room and not say a word and still be too loud! It’s in our body language. I walk heavier and faster than most of my coworkers (the heals don’t help). When I talk, my hands fly all over the place. Extroverts sometimes exude a demeanor that can be intimidating to introverts.
The trick is to be mindful of your body language, and especially your voice. Start out as quiet as you can be, because most of the time they think it’s a normal tone anyway. A better suggestion, pretend you’re in a library, because more than likely, you’re too loud there too.
2. Listen as Much as You Talk
Sometimes it’s hard for us extroverts to get to the point. We have drawn-out, expressive stories that take the long way of getting where we want to go. This one I struggle with the most. It’s hard for me to slow down my mind, take my time, compose a thought, and then speak it. It’s way easier to talk as I think—and that one right there always gets me in trouble. You might not mean any harm, but if you speak before you think, you’re on a fast track to potentially offending someone… or many people.
Slow it down and listen. Even if you think you’ll lose your train of thought if you don’t continue to repeat the next thing you want to say, over and over again in your head, you have to listen. Take your time, repeat back what the person said to you, and then respond.
3. Watch & Respect their Energy
Be respectful of other people’s space and their energy level. Though the energy of a room filled with people fuels you, introverts commonly feel the opposite. To introverts, extroverts can be like energy vampires. We can easily suck the life out of them with what we think are casual conversations. (Does that sound weird? Read this comic for an excellent illustration.)
If someone seems to be losing interest, learn how to cut things short and walk away. On the other hand, if you get the feeling that they want to talk, welcome the conversation by asking them more questions about themselves and their interests. You’re curious by nature anyway, so it won’t hurt to show interest in their interests. Waiting until they approach you is a good tip/sign too.
4. Stay Open-Minded
It’s easy to feel offended when people are quiet and/or want to be by themselves. They’re really not ignoring you. They just need their space. They take their time when forming a relationship. It’s important to be patient and understanding. Their privacy is important to them. Keeping an open-mind and preventing yourself from telling an un-factual story, is key.
There can be many misconceptions when it comes to what we think defines an introvert or extrovert. Introverts aren’t always shy, and extroverts aren’t always as happy and outgoing as one would think. In any workplace, as long as we strive for diversity, we have to be respectful and open-minded. I hope these tips help, and if you have more I would love to hear from you.