12 Most Absurd Debates Between Extroverts and Introverts

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.

Kate Nasser

http://katenasser.com

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers keynotes, consulting, in person workshops and distance training on teamwork, leading change, and customer service to large businesses in diverse industries. Now celebrating 25 years in business, she continues to combine her natural intuition about people (her human GPS), a Masters degree in Organizational Psychology, and years of gritty real life experience to help teams hit the bulls-eye. Kate runs the #Peopleskills Twitter chat every Sunday morning and the Google + PeopleSkills community. She invites you to join both! View Kate on YouTube and read workshop info and blog posts her website.

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15 comments
AchimNowak
AchimNowak

Kate - such a needed post, thank you! We tend to imprison ourselves by adopting quick labels after taking a personality profile. The Jungian introversion/extroversion language, if we seize it too tightly, becomes the most limiting label of them all. I celebrate Dan Pink who toys with the term "ambivert." I celebrate the notion of exploring our personal range (that comes from years of coaching actors). These mind-sets, to me, are more helpful than our attachment to any psychological construct.

atlumschema
atlumschema

This is great. Thank you. There is a huge problem of people finding identity and self-definition through labels. 'I am an introvert therefore...' It has become an excuse, a self-justification for particular behaviour. I think you hit the nail on the hear perfectly here, getting down to the core issues. We love splitting a very grey world into a dualistic, binary, black and white reality and these debates are very familiar to me! 

BelindaSummers
BelindaSummers

It all boils down to one thing; we should never separate ourselves from other people because no matter how different we are from each other, what would still matter in the end is how you understand and accept each other likeness and differences. :)

DanOestreich
DanOestreich

Oh, Kate, this is really a great post, and I am so in sync with you. I was done with this silly debate before it began. Introvert and Extrovert are social constructs, aka "labels," ones that are generic in nature and do not account for the experiences, conditioning, or self-awareness of individuals. We all have parts of ourselves that are more or less introverted and extroverted -- that's the way Carl Jung, the Swiss psychoanalyst who coined the terms expressed it.  But to somehow make better and worse out of it -- that's to indulge our Shadow side, another of Jung's constructs, meaning our blindspots, often expressed through our judgments and projections onto others.  As someone more on the introverted side I've been told that "all introverts are fundamentally damaged people," that introverts are not naturally leaders, that my ideal job would (should) be as a librarian!   I do understand why people get angry about the labels -- because they are a way of not seeing the whole person who is there. 

As you say so ably, we are all growing. We are all learning.  There is no one "type" that has success in its corner. It is the beautiful, challenging, stunning differences, the possibilities of synergy that make the world go round. Bravo for that final word, "absurd," as a way to describe this depleting and meaningless debate.

Arie Baan
Arie Baan

Thanks, Kate, for bringing this in. When you read it all together, it becomes like a theatre of the absurd. 

But it is great as a facilitation tool, to have available when a session runs into these shallow waters - as has happened to me several times over the years.

susansilver
susansilver

Kate, you are making a brilliant point here that I hope people don't miss. Introverts and extroverts just need to accept themselves! Bam, no superiority or inferiority implied. 

I was thinking recently about how I experience life first as a deep feeler. The thought then came into my head that I bet there are plenty of people who are deep thinkers. You would think this would lead to lots of miscommunication, right? But truthfully, it depends on how willing you are to bend to see another person's point of view. It isn't always easy. And it won't always be appropriate. But it is possible.

Same with extroverts and introverts. We should recognize that there is a little bit of ourselves in each other. If we can honor that it will be easier to work with each other without so much need to argue over the way we get things done. 

singandsew
singandsew

Thanks for this. I lost a good job because I was the only introvert in the management team. I had been doing my job very well until a management consultant had us do the Myers Briggs test and when it was revealed that I was the only introvert, the game changed overnight. I am a high performer and turned lemons into lemonade, but this is a very good lesson about how people's assumptions are so incorrect about this subject.

KateNasser
KateNasser

@AchimNowak   Thanks Achim.  Love your imagery "seize too tightly" we are limited.  It underscores that inflexible is not safe it is risky!  Stretch and find your range and you will always be more secure.  Sounds odd to many yet it is true.


Thanks for your comment here.  And yes, I love Dan Pink's work too!!

Kate

KateNasser
KateNasser

@atlumschemaYes .. binary feels good to many.  It can be valuable in learning moments and in stressful moments yet the value disappears when we try to LIVE always as if life is binary.  A label represents a choice not to change behavior.

 Thank you so much for weighing in on this discussion!

Kate Nasser

KateNasser
KateNasser

@BelindaSummers   So nicely said Belinda.  In truth we cannot separate from other people. We can choose to distance ourselves yet in the end we like the universe are connected.  Agility and adaptability is survival of the fittest.

I wrote another post you might like to read or share with your stream:

---------------

<a href="http://katenasser.com/adaptability-genius-generosity-people-skills-teamwork/">Adaptability is Genius and Generosity</a>

Thank you for adding your voice to this discussion!

Kate Nasser

KateNasser
KateNasser

@DanOestreich   And there it is Dan as you say "The beauty of stunning differences and possibilities of synergy that make the world go round!"


Thanks you!

Kate

KateNasser
KateNasser

@Arie Baan Hi Arie, I am so pleased that the post created the "big picture" -- theatre of the absurd.  That's exactly my point.  And I do hope many will use this in the workplace to create more successful interactions!

KateNasser
KateNasser

@susansilver Yes ... bend, be flexible, adapt -- it doesn't mean you are giving up who you are!  When we take the introvert/extrovert issue out of the picture it's clear that people listen and consider other views all the time!  


So why create an absurd divide that just keeps everyone from the finish of collaboration!  Thank you Susan ... I am grateful for your contribution here.


Kate

KateNasser
KateNasser

@singandsew I feel for you "singandsew" and also know that with your positive self-image and commitment to contributing and making a difference -- the sky's the limit for you.   


Thank you for sharing your personal story for that alone teaches everyone to consider the talents and greatness in **everyone!


Warmest regards,

Kate

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