How I ‘Manage’ being an Extrovert
Being a ‘high E’ as referred to by some assessment specialists, I know that I can be more than talky and enjoy spending time in social situations. It is no surprise that I might be described as social, outgoing or fun. With clients and in meetings I am never one to struggle with providing input or leading with a new idea. For my entire working life, I have understood this about myself and contribute my success partly to wearing the badge of ‘extrovert’.
However understanding one’s self and having a true ‘awareness’ of self can be two distinctly different things. Working over the last several months with personality assessments within the context of leadership and professional development initiatives, I have gained a deeper understanding of how I show up for people. What I might see as being ‘highly engaged’ might seem overpowering to someone else. Where I see great ideas and initiatives, others ponder real possibility or sustainability. Working with clients on how they are perceived by others and the impact on their effectiveness has given me an opportunity to move from just understanding to being deeply aware.
Extroverts share two distinct characteristics; they process information by talking and they ‘recharge’ by seeking social interaction. I can identify intimately with both of these characteristics. Go ahead, ask any of the women in my life…if I have an idea, a thought, a problem to work through, I will reach out to any of them to process it. What many of them don’t know is that if I can’t reach one of them, I will reach out to the next…and the next…until I find one that can listen while I talk something through. And as for recharging, I am not one to shy away from coffee with friends or a Friday night ‘happy hour’.
So what does this acute awareness mean as I work to interact with my fellow introverts…those colleagues that process information by thinking and aren’t exactly inspired by socializing in large groups or attending events? How can I best manage my ‘extrovertness’ in a way that enhances communication?
- 1. I ask myself ‘Do you really need to say that?’ Being aware that I can monopolize a conversation or overshare in a meeting, I now check myself by silently asking if what I am about to say is really necessary or adds value to the conversation. In meetings I now sit back and ensure that everyone has a chance to talk and offer up questions to discover rather than statements.
- 2. I seek out insight and opinions from thoughtful introverts. Understanding that meetings were made for extroverts ( a place for extroverts to get together to process by talking), I am acutely aware of those that tend to share less. Also knowing that introverts need an opportunity to think through and process before providing insight or ideas, I wait until after the meeting to reach out and inquire about their opinions on a topic. Giving an introvert the option of talking after the meeting, or even the next day, I know I will gain insight that I would have missed out on simply because I didn’t know how to access it.
- 3. I ask for feedback. In my extrovertness, I can show up as a steam roller. In my openness and availability to share my thoughts, I can tend to miss out on subtle cues from others. In an effort to ensure I haven’t missed out on what others have to share, I am cognizant of asking if I have missed anything, is there anything else anyone needs to share?… what other thoughts are there?… are we moving in the right direction?… anything that takes me outside of own thoughts and facilitates others’ ideas.
I don’t apologize for being an extrovert, nor do I wish that I was any different. I do, however, enjoy a deeper awareness of who I am, how I am wired and how I show up for people.