Updated: Apr 28
This week, I met a colleague for a quick cup of coffee/tea and to get to know one another. While we both work for the same company and in the same state, we had never met in person as a result of remote working. Thanks a lot COVID!
I’m actually a huge fan of remote working though and have been doing it for almost 15 years. It affords me and others the ability to work outside the office and the flexibility of meeting the needs of your career while managing other aspects of your life. The downside is the loss of personal interaction and the pleasant, fun, and sometimes just plain “ah ha” moments in-person interactions can provide.
That’s what got me thinking about personality types, specifically extroverts and introverts. Extroverts are assumed to be outgoing and overtly expressive while introverts are thought to be shy and reticent within the tightly drawn confines of the formal definition of each. In reality, while someone may feel more closely in line with one or the other, it’s never really who they are concretely. Whatever side of the line you fall on, you’re not wrong, you’re just you!
I made the incorrect assumption that my colleague was going to be extroverted as he works in an outwardly facing business development role. I also wrongly assumed that since I work in a more inwardly facing, process-oriented role, he would have thought I was more introverted. Turns out, that wasn’t the case for either of us! After getting to know one other, he’s actually an introvert that does what he needs to do for work and looks forward to recharging his internal batteries at the end of the day with family time and rest. All the personality tests I’ve taken point to me being an introvert as well and while that is true, I very often exhibit characteristics of both types. These people are referred to as ambiverts, a person whose personality has a balance of extroverted and introverted features and that’s who I am. I mean, how can I be a coach if I don’t like to talk to people! But I really love a nice quiet office too. I need that time to recharge by batteries as well so I can come back into into the world once more. After a meeting, coaching session or presentation, the last thing I want to do is go right to the next thing! We need to be aware of these characteristics in ourselves as well as those around us and be able to work with and around them to get the most out of each other.
All personality types have their pros and cons, but a balance of all of them in any family, business or other group is what adds variety and value to our experiences and interactions. The person that’s quiet may not speak up during a meeting but might add huge value to written pieces or shine in one-on-one discussion. The person that’s more outgoing may be able to motivate everyone, move things along and open doors with persuasiveness and energy.
In some cases, problems arise when a person is either pushed or required to work against type. This could be a major source of stress. It’s always okay to try and adjust your working style or offer adjustments to someone in this position that needs it. However, in the end, if it will cause you great discomfort as a person or unbalance the rhythm of a team as the leader, don’t push it. As an individual, be clear about who you are, how you work and how you approach things. As a team leader, read the room. Is there someone in a role that you know does not feel comfortable? Is there someone with the required skills that may be a better personality fit to move that task forward? Look into it. Slight adjustments in the team dynamic could reap big rewards.
If you are an individual that is willing to go the extra mile and work a bit against type, that's great, but don’t stretch too much out of your comfort zone. Do what you can but don’t compromise who you are to please someone else. I can guarantee you this approach is not going to work out well for either of you in the long run.
It is often said that opposites attract, and this happens in many couples and partnerships. One is the life of the party, and one is the homebody. There’s truly something about each other that drew you together and in a lot of ways you likely complement each other as a result. But if you are the partygoer, be respectful of your homebody partner and don’t make them feel bad for wanting to stay home or skirt the edges of an event instead of being in the thick of it. For the homebody, don’t hold your extroverted partner hostage at home or shame them for wanting to go out. Everyone gets their energy from difference sources. We need to communicate and the find the balance of that energy. Compromise is very important marriage and intimate partnerships and when the right compromises are made and balance achieved, we can actually benefit from our differences and flourish together.
My colleague and I talked a lot about how we differed in personality in our marriages and professional roles and how we have found the right balance in them. We also talked about how we are always evolving and changing as well and while you may not venture into a specific area today based on your current experiences and knowledge, who knows about tomorrow? No one is defined or confined by their personality type as long as you are willing to keep learning and growing.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that the world needs all kinds of people to add the diversity, interest, adventure, security, innovation, creativity, and advancement needed to make our lives a well-rounded experience. Bring what makes you unique to every interaction you have and welcome the uniqueness of others without criticism or judgement. You never know when you may benefit from stepping out of your box or letting someone step into yours.
Changing who you are to fit another person’s expectations? Need support in stepping into your true self?
Advocate for and embrace who you are! Let’s talk about it.
Take care and be well,