12 Most Absurd Debates Between Extroverts and Introverts
Success at work means adapting to your colleagues as you work toward a common goal. Success means adapting and growing! As I consult and train teams to do this well, I have learned to laugh at the ever present debate about and between introverts and extroverts. When oh when will the debate end?
Recently, as I read the 12 Most Expeditious Ways to Alienate Your Introverted Colleagues, 25 years of the introvert/extrovert disconnect connected clearly in my mind.
Success in business is about bridging disconnects and making sides disappear. The more introverts and extroverts hold on to differences, the less likely the teams are to reach success. So here are the 12 most absurd debates between introverts and extroverts — and bridges to build instead!
1. You talk too much; you talk too little
There is no rule or standard about how much talking is OK. There are differences depending on situations, impact, deadlines, and a host of other factors. Debating a rule that doesn’t exist is absurd. Build bridges with each other by communicating your needs. If you need some quiet to absorb what someone said before they continue, ask for it nicely. If you need feedback from someone who is very quiet, ask for it nicely.
The true issue is not introversion or extroversion. The true issue is: do you have the desire to accommodate others’ needs — to build a bridge and reach success together?
2. Quiet means agreement; quiet means thinking or disinterest
In truth, quiet means different things to different people. Declaring or debating what quiet means is quite absurd. Everyone starts with an assumption or inference about what quiet means to them. If you act on the assumption rather than clarifying it, you walk a perilous road.
The true issue is not introversion or extroversion. The true issue is confusion. Success comes through clarity.
3. A good leader is an extravert; a good leader is an introvert
Another absurd debate. A great leader is self-aware and willing and able to adapt! This doesn’t mean that an extravert becomes an introvert or vice versa. It means that you modify your behavior as needed to lead others well!
4. Extroverts are arrogant; introverts are humble
Look around at diverse people in the world. You will find both arrogance and humility irrespective of personality type. Arrogance — thinking you are above others, always right, and no need to learn and grow — exists in both extroverts and introverts. Humility — respecting others, empathizing, and continuous learning — is a trait you can find in anyone who chooses to develop it.
The true issue is not introversion or extroversion. The issue is defining arrogance and humility beyond the behavior of conversation.
5. Extroverts speak without thinking; introverts are doing nothing
I think I laugh the most when I hear this particular debate. It has swirled around and around for eons and yet the truth is so simple. Extroverts are speaking what they are thinking. Introverts think quietly and speak at the end.
The issue is not who is thinking and who isn’t. The true issue here is timing. End of debate.
6. Extroverts give, introverts take; extroverts take, introverts give
The absurdity of this debate is that both extroverts and introverts are saying the same thing about each other! Huh? Extroverts often feel drained by an introvert’s silence, yet see themselves as contributing much to the topic at hand. Thus they claim that introverts take without giving. Introverts feel drained by an extrovert’s energy yet see themselves as giving thought-filled care to the topic at hand. They claim that extroverts take energy without refilling it.
The true issue here is energy flow. If you want success together, all must moderate their own energy flow to avoid sapping others. Put simply, both must give and take! Those who give to others before they take achieve success through generosity.
7. Teamwork thrives with extroverts; teamwork thrives with introverts
A team of extroverts can be just as successful as a team of introverts. The challenge is that most teams have both introverts and extroverts. The ability to adapt — once again — is the key to success. If you are leading a team, are you expecting, inspiring, and modeling adaptability?
The true issue here is not extroversion or introversion as fixed immutable behaviors. The true issue here is diversity. Are you turning it into success? Establish a mantra and live it: respect the differences, learn to love the differences, find the fit!
8. Participation matters a great deal; participation is overemphasized
This absurd debate keeps us all from the finish line. Of course participation matters in the workplace. We are being paid to accomplish end goals. Note, however, that participation is not just interaction. The key to success is defining participation as the full gamut of excellence — thinking, analyzing, interaction, and action. Action without critical thinking is risky. Yet just quiet thinking doesn’t hit the mark. Time alone to prepare is necessary, yet all solitude with no interaction delays progress.
The true issue once again is — are you willing to adapt? Or do you believe that you need not stretch to succeed? History is against you on this one! Flex and adapt to stay vital to any company.
9. Extroverts are needy; introverts are shy
All humans have needs and not all introverts are shy. In fact, it is the difference in needs that underlies extroversion and introversion. Why pigeonhole people into categories (e.g. needy or shy) that are not categorically true? Pigeonholes are not where humans live or excel. Pigeonholing undermines business success.
Abandon this absurd debate. Learn about each other and adapt to succeed.
10. It’s easier for extroverts to be silent than for introverts to speak
I’ve heard people debate this point to no avail. First of all, extroversion and introversion are not two fixed points on a graph. People have degrees of extroversion and introversion. Ability to modify one’s preferred behavior is dependent on desire (motivation) and how much of a stretch it is. The higher the level of extroversion or introversion — or for that matter any trait — the greater the challenge in stretching and adapting to others. High extroverts have just as much of a challenge as high introverts.
To me, this debate is actually the statement — “I don’t want to adapt that much” — disguised as logic. The true issue here is giving someone else the job of adapting instead of everyone doing it themselves.
11. Extroverts invade; introverts retreat
The absurdity of this debate stems from its vantage point. Invading and retreating where? In the workplace, if people are working toward a common goal they need to move toward the same end point. On the journey, there will be different situations and conditions that require more or less interaction at any point. Labelling it as invading quiet space or retreating from action divides the team with disrespectful claims at the very moment they need to stick together.
The true issue here is that stress often exaggerates our natural tendencies. So extroverts may become more extroverted and introverts, more introverted. Make everyone aware of this phenomenon and they will be able to laugh at themselves instead of demeaning each other.
12. Extroverts dominate introverts
I have witnessed introverts who dominate a meeting with their silence and extroverts who dominate with conversation. Domination is the unwillingness to understand others, the resistance to welcome differences, and the decision not to adapt. Anyone can dominate; anyone can adapt. Which do you choose?
If you — introvert or extrovert — come to work thinking you need not adapt and grow, leaders will subconsciously sideline you. Resistant teams who engage in absurd debates create unnecessary risk and lose.
If you see each day as a fountain of learning and a chance to evolve, you bypass these absurd debates with the desire and action to succeed. Leaders see you as infinitely valuable, for you grow as the business changes. Agile teams win.
Your adaptability, humility, and continuous learning will make you highly desirable. These traits and behaviors even catch the eyes of leaders doing succession planning. You can be on their list regardless of your personality type.
Develop and show your agility!
Featured image courtesy of Maulbagi licensed via Creative Commons.