Introversion or Extraversion
Bernd was faced with an important decision. He had enjoyed thinking his way into problems and programming solutions. He was completely on his own and proceeded step by step. Sometimes he joked that he didn’t need a holiday because he enjoyed his work so much. But since the new IT manager joined the company, Bernd’s work had changed. Of course, he was still programming, but now he had to present his solutions himself. The former IT manager had collected all the innovations and made a big presentation to the management. The new IT manager had introduced that each of his employees should present his part of the work himself. Now Bernd regularly stood in front of the management. He had been working on his PowerPoint slides for days so that everything he wanted to say was on them. The mere thought of speaking in front of an audience was enough to tie his throat – it was absolutely impossible to speak freely. His hands were damp, his mouth dry and he wished for nothing more than to sit at his desk and write program code. Was it really a solution to change jobs? And would it get better in the next company?
Introverted and Extraverted
Introversion and extraversion are two sides of the property that describes a person’s interaction with his environment. Introverted people are therefore regarded as inwardly directed, extraverted people as outwardly directed.
Neither of the two expressions is good or bad. Well balanced, the strengths of the introverts and extraverts can not only balance each other out, but also support each other. In one situation a special strength of the introvert such as caution can be important, the opposite strength of the extravert, courage, is necessary in another situation. The same applies to perseverance and spontaneity or analytical thinking and energy. And, of course, listening and presenting.
Bernd was a classic introvert. He liked to analyse and was persistent. He preferred to work alone and in peace, he was happy to be sitting in a small office with only one colleague. On the other hand, he was very reluctant to stand in the spotlight.
Where does the energy come from?
Nobody is exclusively introverted or extroverted. Rather, each of us has characteristics in every direction. So it can happen that someone has a strong empathy, which points to an introversion, but at the same time is often very spontaneous, which rather points to an extraverted personality. So it’s only possible to say that someone is more introverted or more extroverted.
Of course, you can’t tell which direction someone is tending in by looking at him or her. Also the aversion to an event or the desire for peace cannot be seen as a general indicator. In order to find out whether someone is introverted or extraverted, the question of where one gets the energy from helps. The introverted person gets his or her energy from the rest and time he or she spends alone with himself or herself. People read, do yoga or go for a walk. Then they feel rested, strong and recharged. An extraverted person needs other people around to regain strength. After work, they go to a network meeting or meet friends in a bar and recharge their batteries.
The new IT manager, on the other hand, was a rather extraverted person. He was thrilled to present the results of his work to the management. And he wanted to give something of this enthusiasm and visibility to his team. However, he hadn’t considered that some of his team members wouldn’t see it as a gift.
The successful cooperation
As already described at the beginning, no characteristic is good or bad. For some situations, one expression simply fits better than the other. However, this usually does not make dealing with each other any easier. A few simple hints can help you to classify your colleague better and to deal with each other:
Is he an intro or an extra?
Maybe you don’t want to ask your colleague how he can best relax. You don’t even need that – you can get many hints from an everyday conversation. Talk about the next weekend and pay attention to what situations might have done your colleague particularly good. Do his eyes start to glow when he tells you about the great book he’s read, or when he tells you about his best friend’s huge birthday party that lasted into the early hours of the morning?
What can you give the extra?
You yourself are more introverted, but your colleague is more extraverted? He definitely needs your understanding. Everything he does is not directed against you, even if it may feel that way. It’s just his way of being spontaneous and present. Give him the space he needs to feel comfortable. And be honest – isn’t it nice if someone likes these hated presentations and is completely in his element? If you need a quick decision, he is the right address for you.
What can you give the intro?
If it is exactly the other way around, it is of course also necessary to show understanding. Your colleague is careful and thinks the matter over three times while you have already made a decision. Give the intro time to do just that. It is wonderful when someone digs himself into the details while you are already a few steps further in your mind. If you need someone to weigh up the pros and cons of a situation in detail, he is just the person for you.
Bernd took all his courage and talked to his new boss. He told him how his predecessor had collected the information about innovations from the programmers and then presented it to the management. He didn’t have to go into detail and tell how he felt during the presentations. The IT manager also understood that he hadn’t done Bernd any favors by taking this step.
The leopard cannot change his spots
As so often in life, it is not enough to stay in your own comfort zone. You can only develop further if you leave the comfort zone and try something that is unusual and not always pleasant. For the extravert, it is sometimes hard work to rein in one’s own spontaneity and engage in deeper conversations. Introverts, on the other hand, don’t manage so easily to turn out of the back angle and show their skills.
The new solution was a successful compromise for Bernd and his boss. In the future, Bernd would accompany all presentations made by the IT manager in front of the management as a listener. In the run-up to the event, both had already identified one or two points on which the IT manager wanted to pick up a question and hand the ball over to Bernd. Bernd nevertheless presented a much smaller part than before. In addition, he was able to answer a question that did not extend the scope of the answer excessively. This made him feel much more secure than just a few weeks ago. He was thrilled when he felt the recognition of his boss and the management in the feedback on his answers.
Stephanie Selmer has published more articles in the t2informatik Blog, including
Strong companies do not only rely on new IT systems for the way into the future, but especially on their employees. Stephanie Selmer assists organisations with change, improving collaboration and achieving common goals. Her customers include medium-sized companies from all industries who see digitalisation as an opportunity to strengthen their employees.