Last week we explored how extroverts can to relate to introverts and better understand their perspective. Now we'll tackle the other end of the spectrum. If you are part of the 40% of managers who happen to be introverts, taking charge of a conversation might be more of challenge. You can learn to communicate more effectively if you understand extrovert tendencies and embrace your leadership role.
Understand the Extroverts
The first step to effective communication is to understand who you are communicating with. Extroverts are not flaky babblers with no attention span. They simply approach problems by working them out as they go. They are action-oriented and need other employees' energy to fuel their own.
Extroverts Can't Help It: Extroverts are hard-wired to act first and plan later. They respond to experiences much faster than introverts and approach every moment as an opportunity for expression. They observe situations and vocalize their observations as they go, instead of processing first. Extroverts approach work as they go and live in the moment.
Extroverts Act and Act Often: Introverts focus on one task at a time, but extroverts need to multitask. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by stimuli, they crave it. Extroverts brainstorm in order to come to a conclusion and thrive in a consistent loop of feedback. Interaction and immersion is how they learn.
Focus the Extroverts
Since extroverts spend more time acting than planning, it's important for you as a leader to keep your team on track. Embrace your strength of looking at the big picture and don't let the extrovert get side-tracked by the details.
Speak Up to Extroverts: In group situations, extroverts will tend to dominate the conversation by expressing their feelings about each task. While the input is welcomed and necessary, the dialogue can drift off topic. Steer the conversation to keep it productive. You may have to step out of your comfort zone and become a more active listener. If you feel an extrovert is digressing, it's ok and (necessary) to politely cut them off. You're in charge so guide extroverts in the right direction.
Open Up: The extrovert is programmed to share and automatically assumes everyone else should too. They may mistake your reserved personality for being disinterested or aloof. If you want your extroverted employees to respect you, try having a short meeting at the start of each day. Share what's going on in your mind. Try to be vocal with encouragement and support. Communicate exactly what you're feeling, even if you think it should be kept private. They will appreciate your interaction, because the feedback motivates them.
Adapt to the Extroverts
Extroverts live moment to moment. You can create a productive environment by adapting to their pace. Give them tasks as they go and don't overwhelm them with long-term plans.
Keep It Short: When giving assignments or instructions, give short, simple descriptions. Introverts often need to know why something is import in order to process the value. Extroverts will be distracted by the reasoning and go off on tangents. Stay on track by giving them their short assignments at the start of each day. Communicate the important deadlines and milestones and then let them work at their pace.
Be Patient: Extroverts will probably want to talk with you and brainstorm more than you would like. They will probably provide more updates than you need and ask more questions than you want to answer. However, remember, they work as they go. They need the feedback loop to function. Try to be more open and available to frequent collaboration.
Establish Boundaries: The frequent communication does have its limits though. You shouldn't allow yourself to be overwhelmed by distractions. As we learned in How to Balance Productivity and Accessibility, analyze patterns and enforce priorities. For instance, if you notice the extrovert tends to drop by your office more in the afternoon, schedule a window between 2-4 pm. Explain to him if needs something, he's welcome to come chat during that time frame. If you know that you've got a meeting at the beginning of each day, allow yourself time to refuel after. Communicate to your staff the specific times you'd prefer not to be disturbed.
If you trust your own strengths for planning and problem-solving, you can bring out the strengths of the extrovert. Simply plan to be flexible and you'll adapt to a more interactive environment. Communication is always key and the more you share, the more you'll mesh with the group. A healthy mix of eager extroverts and insightful introverts makes for an effective team. So make like an extrovert and take action!
Want more tips on how to break out of your shell? Learn to reshape your thinking and master confidence with The Power of Self-Talk.