How to Support Introverts and Extroverts at Work

 Marketing Director   October 11, 2022  Career Advice

Confident introverted higher ed professional posing in front of campus building

Being mindful of and proactive in how you work with and support introverts and extroverts helps foster a sense of belonging in the workplace.

As an introvert, I think I’ve truly benefited from the impact of the COVID pandemic on the workplace. During that initial lockdown, my extroverted colleagues were not as happy as I was about shifting to working remotely. Despite our difference in feelings about the situation, we worked hard to support each other during a particularly harrowing, uncertain time.

So how can you help introverts and extroverts on your team feel accepted and supported? Don’t be distracted by the stereotypes that introverts are shy and reserved, while extroverts are social and loud.

Remember that everyone needs to feel connected and valued to be engaged and productive. How to accomplish that for each group may differ. One difference to keep in mind is the contrasting ways that they process information and restore their energy: introverts process information, focus best, and reenergize when they are alone or in a quiet space, whereas extroverts want conversations to process thoughts and ideas and thrive in social settings.

How does that play out in the workplace? Here are some quick tips:

How to Support Introverts

Give Time

Introverts need time to reflect before responding. If you want feedback on something, send it and give them a deadline for when you need feedback. If you’re hosting a meeting, provide an agenda and state meeting goals or objectives in advance. Set aside time during the meeting for any last-minute thoughts – this gives introverts an opportunity to speak up without having to compete with their extroverted colleagues.

Be Flexible

Everyone appreciates flexibility, but when it comes to collaborating and engaging at work, introverts may be more grateful. During work meetings – in-person or virtual – offer a variety of ways for interaction. Provide post-it notes or encourage the use of the chat function to share their thoughts with the group. When defining and delegating tasks, provide opportunities for both group and solo work.

Mind How You Communicate

Written communication is often preferred by introverts – through writing, they get the needed time to be thoughtful about what they say. But it never hurts to ask about communication preferences. You may come to an agreement on the appropriate communication channel for different types of messages, like if it’s urgent, a phone call or an unannounced office visit might be warranted. Lastly, if you’re thinking about scheduling a meeting, consider if the goals or objectives can be accomplished by email instead.

How to Support Extroverts

Let Them Share

Extroverts are energized by interactions with people. They’ll want to bounce their ideas off others and have brainstorming sessions. Don’t be afraid to interrupt with your own ideas – extroverts will not be offended by interjections. If anything, your input will inspire them to produce more ideas. Consider scheduling regular check-in meetings that give your extroverted colleagues an opportunity to speak their minds and engage with you.

Set Goals, Expectations, and Boundaries

Extroverts can get distracted by their many ideas or need for social interaction. Be clear about what needs to be accomplished and by when to help them focus and be more productive. During group meetings, extroverts can take over the floor, making it challenging for others to contribute.  By establishing boundaries, you will help extroverts know when they need to give space for others to share or lead.

Give Encouragement

Positive feedback and recognition can really motivate an extrovert to work harder and better. As noted many times in this article, extroverts thrive on social engagement – adding praise is like the cherry on top of a sundae of regular human interaction. Your efforts to avoid expressing negative thoughts and instead focus on solutions and lessons learned will provide a positive environment where extroverts can flourish.

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About the Author: Marcia Silva is the director of marketing and communications at the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium. She strives to create engaging, research-informed content that empowers job seekers and employers committed to creating inclusive workplaces. She is passionate about using digital media and technology to encourage participation and strengthen communities.