Extroversion is one of the most widely talked about personality characteristics of all time. There have been books written about extroversion and introversion, TED Talks have been given, and there are dozens of online tests and opinions about this every present personality characteristic. It might be the most widely talked about personality characteristic because it makes a lot of sense and people can easily self-identify their own level of extroversion.
In this post, we'll discuss the relevance of extroversion as it relates to the workplace, the pros and cons of extroverts on the job, and how to become extroverted.
What we'll cover
What is Extroversion?
Extroversion is the quality of being outgoing and directing attention to things other than yourself. It’s characterized by sociability, assertiveness, talkativeness, and excitability.
People who are high in extroversion seek out social stimulation and love to engage with others. Those who are low in extroversion (introverts), on the other hand, tend to be more quiet, reserved, and less involved in social situations.
In the simplest terms, extroversion and introversion refers to the way a person “recharges” and processes stimuli. People with high extroversion gain energy by spending time with other people, while introverts gain energy through solitude.
Western society often values and celebrates extroverts, but that doesn’t mean that extroverts are better in the workplace. Introversion and Extroversion both have strengths and weaknesses that can affect performance as an employee, manager, or leader.
The strengths of people HIGH in Extroversion (Extroverts)
People with high extroversion tend to relate well to others, and are often well-liked in their teams and offices. They form quick and easy friendships, and their outgoing nature leads to effective group-work.
- Capable of quickly forming close associations with others
- Comfortable forming friendships with a large number of people
- Remember names and faces
- Tend to be straightforward, candid, and often charismatic
- Communicate easily with a variety of people
- Work well in group settings
- Invites others to participate who might be less inclined
- Willing to assist others with difficulties
- Highly sociable, prefer to spend majority of time with others
- Ideas and comments are well received in group settings
- Upbeat, chatty, and able to speak publicly
- Confident in social settings
- Usually very determined, likely to take charge, and confident
- Highly self-reliant tendencies, likely to become a leader
The weaknesses of people HIGH in Extroversion (Extroverts)
People with high extroversion may struggle with keeping their emotions in check. At times, they can come across as aggressive or abrasive, but are also intent on pleasing people. This can lead to easily swayed opinions and unfinished projects.
- Often unable to make analytical, emotionless judgements
- May lack independence and gumption
- May value too highly the validation of others
- Tendency to get lonely
- May occasionally come across as harsh and aggressive or controlling and arrogant
- May not have the best judgment
- Can be too intense or lively
- May struggle to concentrate on what others are saying
- May be inconsiderate or sometimes socially unaware
- Can sometimes make others uncomfortable
- Likely to stand in the spotlight more, rather than giving it to others
- May appear to be too confident or cocky
- Desire to spend time in the company of others may affect personal work
- May attempt to do more than can be realistically completed in a set time frame
- May struggle to complete projects
The strengths of people LOW in Extroversion (Introverts)
People with low extroversion are precise and detail-oriented. They depend less on encouragement and are good, logical leaders. Their ability to focus on projects leads to high group effectiveness.
- Not hugely affected by emotions or feelings
- Less dependent on common encouragements
- Impartial and critical
- Insists on precision and being detail-oriented
- More inclined to take charge in situations that require a logical and fact-based perspective
- Prefers to focus on one project at a time rather than bounce around
- Ability to be self-reliant and think purposefully
- Independent, with the ability to lead group endeavors
- Dependable, cautious, and deliberate
- Often well-suited to manage potential pitfalls
- Tend to have a very steady mood
- Often mild-mannered, accommodating, and good listener
The weaknesses of people LOW in Extroversion (Introverts)
People with low extroversion can come off as unfriendly or shy. They struggle in social events and can struggle working in groups with people they do not like. Once they have an idea in their head, they can be difficult to compromise with. They are often perceived as unfriendly and elitist.
- May prefer privacy to working in groups
- Value making their own decisions outside of others’ opinions
- Social events can be awkward and uncomfortable
- Often don’t enjoy group events
- Can be difficult to compromise with
- May feel an intense sense of inferiority which can result in workplace shyness
- Not inclined to take charge, and often constrained in social situations and personal relationships
- Difficulty working in groups
- May ignore others and follow own opinion despite consensus
- Form harsh negative opinions on others, very critical
- Not a risk taker
- Hard work/accomplishments might not be remembered or appreciated
How do I test for Extroversion?
Testing for extroversion is one of the easier characteristics to spot in people. Look for the following attributes when interacting with individuals you work with and you'll start to get a good sense of how extroverted someone is.
Signs of HIGH Extroversion (Extroverts)
- Quick to answer questions
- Uncomfortable with silence
- Often talks loudly
Signs of LOW Extroversion (Introverts)
- Thinks before responding
- Needs to be prompted
- Comfortable with silence
- Sometimes soft spoken
Looking for these signs can help you spot those high in extroversion vs. low. The reality is that everyone is on a spectrum. Some people are in the middle or sway one way or another. The important thing is to look for the tendency to pull one way or another.
How to become extroverted
There will likely be times in your professional career when it’s advantageous to be more extroverted. For example, it can help to be more comfortable with groups, meet people easily, and hold conversations naturally without wondering what to say.
That begs the question: can an introvert become more extroverted? The answer is yes, with certain strategies. The five tips below can help bring out your more extroverted side.
1. Realize the benefits of both
Sometimes people who are more introverted feel negatively toward those loud, disorganized extroverts, and vice versa. Realize that both tendencies have strengths and weaknesses. Expanding your ability to behave more extroverted when the situation calls for it is a valuable skill in the workplace.
2. Learn from others
Identify the extroverts you interact with personally and professionally and observe them closely. See what they do differently than you, and learn from their actions.
3. Practice extrovert behaviors
While “fake it till you make it” is just a saying, there is some truth behind it. Practice behaving like an extrovert—strike up conversations even if you don’t have specific reasons to talk, make eye contact and smile, be more present and get out of your head, share information about yourself, etc. The more you do what may not come naturally, the more comfortable you will become.
4. Plan for challenging situations
Social situations or times when they are the center of attention are draining to introverts. If you know that you have something coming up that requires you to be more extroverted, give yourself the time and space to prepare beforehand and recharge afterward.
5. Use active listening skills
People enjoy being with those who actively listen when participating in conversations. Since introverts are often gifted listeners, this is an area where you can excel. Instead of simply listening, though, use this natural ability to join in and ask questions that show genuine interest in what others say. You might be surprised how others respond, and that when you put your mind to it, you can converse like an extrovert.
The spectrum of Extroversion
We all have tendencies that typically fall somewhere in between pure extroversion or introversion. Plus, it’s natural to act differently in different situations.
So can you be shy and an extrovert? Yes. Shyness doesn’t mean you want to be alone, just that you have a fear of social judgement. An extrovert can crave being with people but fear possible judgement.
And if you’ve heard of being an introverted extrovert, or an extroverted introvert, that’s when you need to remember that this personality trait is a spectrum. It’s natural to be more extroverted in certain situations, and more introverted in others.
Recognizing this has given rise to the term ambivert—a person who has a balance of both introvert and extrovert qualities. The truth is, as humans we like to neatly categorize and label, but personality is often more fluid than we’d like.
Extroversion in the workplace
There is no right or wrong amount of extroversion to seek for in the workplace. We all have strengths and weaknesses. The goal is to learn how to best work with people of different levels of extroversion so we can utilize their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses.
Understanding someone’s level of extroversion/introversion can be a valuable tool when hiring, especially for positions that require a lot of social interaction, like sales or customer service. Journeyfront’s pre-employment assessments can help you find candidates that are the right fit for your job and culture.