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Career Development

Key Differences Between Introverts and Extroverts

January 28, 2020

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Introversion and extroversion exist on a spectrum, and most people exhibit both introverted and extroverted traits. Where people fall on this spectrum may impact how they work, the career that they choose, their personal life and how they interact with coworkers or clients. Knowing the differences between introverts and extroverts is important for building successful, productive relationships with both types of people. In this article, we will explore what you should know about the differences between introverts and extroverts.

Related: Guide: 16 Personality Types

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Introverts and extroverts are both essential

Introverts and extroverts typically have different characteristics, and they are likely to use different techniques to complete work. Introverts and extroverts complement each other, and both types of people are equally likely to be successful in their chosen careers. When they are working toward important goals, introverts and extroverts may do things that do not come naturally to them.

For example, an introvert may not particularly enjoy team meetings or company parties but do enjoy and thrive in one-on-one conversations. An extrovert might not enjoy working for long periods of time at their desk without much contact, but they will complete the task if their supervisor or a coworker asks it of them.

Related: Setting Goals to Improve Your Career

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The characteristics of introverts

If you agree with the following statements, you may be an introvert. Here are some of the most common characteristics of introverts:

  • You only talk to people at work if you need to.

  • You like to keep all your interactions at work short, but meaningful.

  • You prefer to work alone and thinking things through in your mind helps you more than talking with others.

  • If you are interrupted, you might get agitated easily.

  • Interacting with other people drains your energy.

  • You prefer to give others the chance to volunteer before taking on a new duty or assignment.

  • You acknowledge the personal lives of others, and you are a good listener.

  • You do not enjoy all social discussions or small talk.

  • You sometimes choose not to attend gatherings or parties that are not related to the business. For example, you will attend the launch party for your company’s latest product, but you probably will not want to go out with coworkers afterward.

  • You are an excellent problem solver who tries to think of potential problems before they become realities.

  • When you present a plan or suggest a policy shift, it is detailed and the reasons for the change are thorough.

  • You observe people’s behavior more often than you interact with them.

  • When needed, you can act as a diplomat or interpreter to resolve conflicts and explain different points of view while remaining emotionally objective.

  • You have a realistic understanding of your own abilities.

  • You have the patience to learn new skills and to eliminate many of your flaws.

  • You like to start your day with solitary tasks like reading your email or making updates to your calendar.

  • You usually choose the least risky action, if possible.

  • You enjoy intimate conversations more than large gatherings.

Being an introvert can have some drawbacks. Sometimes, introverts may have to work harder at building relationships in the workplace. This can keep them from taking advantage of networking opportunities, for example. Since introverts are not usually the first ones to volunteer for tasks, some people may believe that they lack initiative. They also may not feel comfortable speaking up when a supervisor asks for input.

While introverts rarely suffer from burnout from making excessive commitments, they could need to take a break because they do not delegate enough of their work to others or because they feel too isolated. They may find trusting people difficult, and they tend to be nervous during interviews.

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The characteristics of extroverts

If you agree with more of these statements instead, you may be an extrovert:

  • Approaching new people is no problem. You look at everyone as a potential client or a possible friend.
  • You like to work with others and exchange ideas.
  • The energy that you get from interacting with others motivates you to do more and increase your performance.
  • Talking to people can inspire you.
  • You enjoy volunteering for committees or organizing company events.
  • You can make friends quickly.
  • You talk about your personal life with coworkers.
  • You can use your charisma to inspire your team members to do their best work possible.
  • You check on the progress of your subordinates often.
  • You like to start your day by meeting with people.
  • You often participate in informal brainstorming sessions with coworkers or subordinates.
  • You often explain your plans at meetings.
  • You take risks often, but they do not always pay off
  • You trust people easily.

Like being an introvert, there are some cons to being an extrovert. Extroverts could easily volunteer to take on more additional work than they can handle. It is harder for them to concentrate because they have a tendency to stop whatever they are doing to start conversations that are unnecessary to do their job. Sometimes, friends or coworkers can take advantage of their trust by exploiting extroverts’ willingness to give favors and help people.

Using their energy to impress others and earn their respect can make extroverts more vulnerable to burnout. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, learn when to sometimes say no to responsibilities that are not part of your job description. If you need more help, ask for it.

Extroverts are often so enthusiastic in meetings that they can keep others from having a chance to speak. They must remember to let others talk about their ideas and to designate time for each employee to contribute to discussions. They should also make sure they maintain proper boundaries at work and keep their decisions transparent to avoid problems.

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What is an ambivert personality like?

Ambiverts or omniverts are people in the middle of the extroversion or introversion spectrum. They can enjoy both a meal with friends or a night alone with a good book equally. According to Barry Smith, the director of the Laboratories of Human Psychophysiology at the University of Maryland, about two-thirds of all people are ambiverts. You may be an ambivert if:

  • You can adapt easily to a variety of different situations. You are comfortable networking with coworkers at parties or concentrating on a task alone, and you can be assertive and charismatic or quiet and thoughtful.

  • You do not feel drained by being outgoing or by being alone with your thoughts and feelings.

  • In conversations, you know when to talk and when to listen. People rarely interrupt you or keep you from speaking, and you do not interrupt them when they are talking.

  • You can use different approaches to communicate effectively with introverts and extroverts.

  • Your flexibility and your ability to change the way you interact with different people could make you an excellent salesperson and advisor.

While ambiverts enjoy the best of both worlds in many situations, there are still some drawbacks to being an ambivert. They often have a harder time choosing between private and social events. They can feel bored by solitary tasks and they can become irritable or unusually quiet in a social situation they are not in the mood for. Ambiverts could also be unsure about their long-term career goals.

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The physical differences between introverts and extroverts

Different people have naturally different levels of dopamine in their neocortex, the part of the brain responsible for higher mental functions like language and conscious thought. Individuals with higher levels of dopamine tend to be introverts because additional social stimulation is more likely to make them feel anxious, nervous or overwhelmed.

People without as much dopamine in their brains are usually extroverts. Without enough stimulation, they can feel bored easily, and they look for social stimulation to feel satisfied. However, introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts will all seek out stimulation at some times while avoiding it at others. An extrovert will read sometimes or enjoy other solitary activities, and an introvert will occasionally seek out group conversation.

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The best jobs for introverts

Introverts have many characteristics that employers look for, and many jobs are ideal for introverts. If you are an introvert, look for jobs that:

  • Involve lots of independent work
  • Have quiet environments for working
  • Require excellent active listening skills
  • Let you pay attention to one task at a time
  • Requires you to instruct individuals
  • Let you set your own schedule and make some decisions without asking upper management
  • Involve making plans or analyzing data

Many introverts become landscape designers, accounting managers, content managers, writers, teachers, private chefs, graphic designers or librarians.

Related: 15 Best Jobs for Introverts

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Great jobs for extroverts

Many employers value extroverts as much as introverts. Here are some job requirements that are suited to extroverts:

  • Plenty of collaboration with customers, subordinates and coworkers
  • Opportunities for speaking in public often
  • A busy workplace with lots of people nearby
  • A need for multitasking
  • Allows you to interact with other people often
  • Frequent change of pace or scenery

Extroverts often become sales representatives, event planners, mediators, psychologists, contraction managers, financial advisors, hair stylists or speech pathologists.
Introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts can be successful at a wide variety of jobs. If they enjoy their occupation, they will complete tasks they might not find necessarily pleasant. These personality types often team up and help each other. A business with too many extroverts could take unneeded risks while a company with too many introverts could miss out on new opportunities by playing things safe. A combination of these personality types will help your business make the right decisions and interact well with everyone.

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