Look to your left. Look to your right. Everyone in your office probably falls into one of two camps. You’re either in the happy, fun camp versus the quiet, loners camp. Or you’re either in the serious, focused camp versus the shallow, mindless camp.
One camp is full of extroverts and the other is full of introverts. Do you know which camp you’re in?
If you’re an extrovert, you thrive in loud, social environments, but find quiet rooms a drain. It’s unlikely you look forward to spending a quiet evening with a good book. If you’re an introvert, you find loud, social environments draining after a short time and feel the need to retreat to a quiet room to recover. It’s unlikely you crave parties with lots of people you don’t know.
Still don’t know which camp you’re in yet? If not, you can take this easy online test.
You should know neither camp is better than the other. However, both groups need different things from each other to understand each other and work well as a team in terms of communication, collaboration, and work environments.
Introverts and extroverts like to communicate differently. Extroverts thrive on meeting new people, making small talk, and finding common ground with others. Each new interaction energizes them. They like to work a room and get everybody involved.
Introverts, on the other hand, like one-on-one communication. They prefer fewer, deeper conversations. They like to listen and take on the role of advisor. When there is a group, an introvert tends to find the other introvert in the corner and talk to them deeply.
For communicating, extroverts should seek out introverts when they need a good listener or some advice. Introverts, on the other, can learn a few common small talk gambits (weather, traffic, weekend plans) to find common ground. When roles can be divided, introverts can be great sounding boards, while extroverts are excellent networkers.
When it comes to collaboration and meetings, each camp has its preferences. For meetings, extroverts might like to have lots of small talk before chatting about a variety of issues, jumping from topic to topic.
Introverts, on the other hand, prefer to stick to solid agendas, talking in-depth about a few issues, and then going off to work on those issues—alone.
For collaborating, extroverts should know introverts love to collaborate, but not as much in person, and not for long periods of time. They like sharing their ideas through email or chat, and then getting to work. Likewise, introverts should know they can’t always hide. They need to meet face-to-face for short periods of time with extroverts to create group cohesion and a quick exchange of ideas.
Work environments can be difficult to navigate for both parties if the office is not designed to accommodate both personality types. Extroverts like to be in louder, more active environments. They work better in stimulating environments, such as open-office spaces. Introverts, on the other hand, like to work alone in quieter spaces.
If you’re in a large office, try to design work areas to allow for areas for active collaboration and quiet work. Otherwise, noise and interaction levels can affect each group’s productivity. Headsets are an ideal compromise for both. Each group could use headsets to enjoy music at their preferred level, or to reduce noise levels, if need be.
When it comes to introverts and extroverts, everyone can get along. They just need to have a better understanding of the needs of the other so they can accommodate each other’s work styles.
Kyle Crocco is the Content Marketing Coordinator at BigSpeak Speakers Bureau, a graduate of UC Santa Barbara, and the lead singer of Duh Professors. He regularly publishes business book reviews and thought articles on Medium, Business 2 Community, and Born 2 Invest.