You probably have some preconceived notions when it comes to the differences between introverts and extroverts. Introverts are quiet, shy, and keep to themselves, while their extroverted counterparts are outspoken, outgoing, and just seem to thrive around people. While some of this is true, people can fall anywhere along the spectrum, although they do tend to lean towards one side. Neither is better than the other, but understanding how to manage introverts and extroverts and what makes them tick is crucial for your success as a business owner.
What makes people more introverted versus more extroverted is the makeup of chemical reward network in their brains. The neurotransmitter dopamine plays an important role in everyone’s bodies. When dopamine is released in the brain, it motivates us to seek external rewards. Extroverts tend to have a more active dopamine reward network, which drives them to accomplish what they’ve set out to do. Introverts have the same amount of dopamine in their brains, but they become over stimulated at the same levels of dopamine that extroverts become excited and driven at. Introverts favor a different neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, which causes feelings of pleasure when a person turns inward. Introverts prefer calm environments so they can reflect, think deeply and focus on what needs to be done, instead of being over stimulated in a loud or busy environment. This is why some people shine in a large meeting and some people sink back into their chairs. It’s not that introverts hate talking to people; it’s just that it becomes exhausting for them. Providing spaces for both introverted and extroverted employees to thrive is paramount for your business to grow.
So, what can you do to get the most out of your diverse group of employees? First, you need to talk to your employees and ask how they prefer to work and learn. This will set them up for success and in turn, provide you with a stronger workforce. You don’t have to acquiesce every request, but allowing them to work in the way that benefits them the most is a win-win for both parties.
Next, you should take a look at the workspace you’ve provided for your employees. Introverts work better when they have a private place to get things done while extroverts tend to like open floor plans that encourage socializing. It may not be feasible to give everyone their own office but creating a few quiet, private workrooms that your employees can duck into if they’re feeling overwhelmed can help a lot. It’s also important to have space for people to gather and collaborate on ideas to bring out the best in your more extroverted employees. Striking a balance between the two can be challenging, but it will allow your workforce to fire on all cylinders if you create space for both introverts and extroverts to excel.
Lastly, create environments that allow each to share their ideas in the manner that best suits them. If you ask for ideas in a meeting, the more extroverted people will have no problem voicing their opinions. But the introverts in the room may not be comfortable speaking up just yet. Allow them to take some time to think and get back to you in a one-on-one setting or give them a heads up a few days before the meeting so they can be better prepared. There’s nothing worse than putting an introvert on the spot. Their mind becomes over stimulated, they can’t think straight, and you won’t get any good ideas out of a person when they’re in that state. Understanding how best to extract ideas from your employees is critical for getting the most out of them.
Figuring out how to best utilize your team is an essential skill for great leaders. By accepting that you will always have introverted and extroverted employees, you can set yourself and your business up for lasting success. So get out there and talk to your employees about how you can create a work environment that will bring out the best in everyone. They’ll thank you for it and your business will be stronger because of it.