There are significant differences in the way extroverts and introverts communicate at work, and introverts need to be aware of these differences if they’re to get the most out of workplace communications. Perhaps the most noticeable difference is that extroverts are quicker communicators than introverts – quicker in terms of starting conversations, and in the speed at which they talk. Extroverts tend to ask a lot of questions and shift quickly from topic to topic, and introverts can be overwhelmed by listening to an extroverted speaker while processing their own thoughts about what the speaker is saying. Have a look at Boosting Workplace Communication for more info on this.In contrast, introverts often hesitate before talking and may take a long time to explain things. Introverts may also mumble to themselves, start talking in the middle of a thought, or suffer from a tip of the tongue problem where they can’t retrieve the word they want to use.
Introverts can also struggle to be fluent in a conversation if they aren’t very familiar with the subject they are talking about. This is partly because extroverts tend to know a little about a lot of topics, while introverts tend to have more in-depth knowledge of a smaller range or subjects. Extroverts also tend to be better at using humour and body language to keep a conversation flowing. Here’s some communication tips for introverts who want to get more out of workplace communications:
– Always do a bit of preparation or research before important meetings, phone calls or interviews (that way introverts are more likely to think of something to say when put on the spot or engaged in debate with louder, faster-thinking extroverts)
– Take notes during meetings – this allows introverts to be less dependent on their weaker short-term memory and frees up mental resources so they can be more fluent in conversation
– Check for indications of understanding when you finish making a comment (sometimes introverts make incomplete statements and don’t realise the person, or persons, they are talking to hasn’t heard or understood what they have said)
– Talk more loudly – introverts tend to talk too quietly, so if in doubt it’s better to up the volume a bit
– At social events and conferences, talk to quieter extroverts or more talkative introverts, rather than loud extroverts or retiring introverts (loud extroverts can be poor listeners while it can be hard to initiate conversation with very quiet introverts)