Monday Mornings with Madison

Why Personality Type Matters at Work – Part 1

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Estimated Read Time: 8 Min.

Psychologists universally agree that personality plays a huge role in our everyday lives.  Everything people do reflects their personality.  It is always with us, influencing what we think, what we feel, and how we behave.  One might say that personality is embedded in our behavioral DNA.  Personality affects how people interact with one another and how well-suited people are for the type of work they do.  So while we can override our natural personality inclinations, it is not advisable or wise.

Based on what a huge role personality plays in how people interact and work together, it helps to have a solid understanding of the elements that make up personality and how it works.  Personalities are made up of five major traits (OCEAN):

  1. Openness to experience
  2. Conscientiousness
  3. Extroversion
  4. Agreeableness
  5. Neuroticism

Like height and weight, these personality traits do not come in a single size.  Each is more like a spectrum, with people’s personalities falling on a scale or spectrum of less to more, except that some people can and do jump from point to point on that spectrum.  Depending on where they fall in each of these personality traits helps to shape how they behave and connect.  Understanding personality traits helps a person not only choose work that aligns with his personality, but helps one navigate the complexities of working with people with different personality types.

Today, let’s dig down into one of the five personality traits:   the Extroversion spectrum.   To understand this personality trait, there are four terms to know:  extroverts, introverts, ambiverts and omniverts.

Extroverts

On one end of the spectrum are pure extroverts.  Extroverts thrive on the energy of the people and things around them.  They have big social networks, are active on social media, and like interacting with people.   With the advent of phones, newspapers, the World Wide Web and social media, the world has become increasingly geared toward extroverts.  Since the nature of extroversion makes people with that personality type more visible, modern society is more accepting of extroverts.   Here are some of the common traits of extroverts.

1. The key characteristic of an extrovert is that he/she gains energy from being around other people.  Extroverts enjoy lively social engagement.  They find that refreshing and energizing.  No matter how much time is spent in a big gathering, an extrovert feels invigorated afterward.  It is as if they can absorb the energy others are expending.

2. Extroverts tend to “think out loud” and have a tendency to problem-solve by discussing with others any challenges and obstacles.

3. Making quick decisions is an extrovert’s modus operandi.  An extrovert will take action before giving him/herself time to think things through.  Extroverts are spontaneous.

4.  A pure extrovert will feel easily bored and restless when spending time alone.  He/she likes to be with lots of people and really enjoys being the center of attention or at the center of a lot of activity.

5. Extroverts tend to be outgoing, enthusiastic, and positive in their attitude and view on life.  Their body language and facial expressions are confident and upbeat.

6. Extroverts thrive in team-oriented activities and open work settings.  They are inherent collaborators and enjoy working on group projects with others.  This activates their creativity.

7. Since extroverts tend to have larger social circles, this is thought to make a difference in how big life events affect them.  They are able to draw on more people to provide comfort and social support.

8. Because extroverts tend to have good people skills, they are generally better at making connections, going on job interviews, and going on dates.  They are more likely to join clubs, be part of fraternities, and participate in team sports. This is part of the reason extroverts are chosen for leadership roles and gravitate toward people-centric careers like sales, marketing, and public relations.

9.  Extroverts love being in the spotlight.  They tend to monopolize conversations and draw all eyes to them.  In a room full of extroverts, there is a lot of jockeying for attention.

While extroversion sounds great, it is not a panacea and not the only part of a person’s personality.  It is just one component which, when combined with other traits, can come across very differently.  An agreeable extrovert can be persuasive and an agent for change while a disagreeable extrovert can be loud, rude and obnoxious.  So while it might seem that extroverts are the best hires, it depends on the job and on the rest of the person’s personality traits.

Introverts

On the other end of the spectrum are pure introverts.  When most people think of introverts, they think of people who are shy.  But that is incorrect.  An introverted person thrives on spending time with his/her own thoughts and ideas, whereas a shy person is alone because they are anxious and insecure about being around others.  Shyness has a negative aspect to it driven by a lack of confidence.  Shy people are worried about whether other people will like them or if they will be accepted.  On the other hand, pure introverts don’t feel anxious about being alone.  They are content to be alone.  Introverts simply do not need as much social contact, and they are fine with that.  Here are some common traits of an introvert.

1. An introvert enjoys spending time in solitude.  To an introvert, alone is not lonely.  Introverts are fine being alone with their thoughts.  Because of this, they may seem distant or aloof, but that isn’t always the case.

2.  Introverts, who are not prone to hang by the water cooler, gossip or engage in idle chatter by the coffee machine, also do not play office politics.  This ensures they don’t waste time with work-place drama or inane pleasantries.

3.  Introverts don’t want or need to be the center of attention.  They are fine to be sit back and observe.

4.  Introverts value close, one-on-one relationships.  They don’t necessarily have a lot of acquaintances but the relationships they do have are just as deep and warm as those of extroverts.

5.  Most introverts are good listeners and will think before they speak.  If asked, they are fine to share their thoughts after they’ve had more time to think. They don’t need to monopolize the conversation and are generally not as talkative.

6.  Introverts don’t care for small talk.  They prefer to by-pass trivialities in favor of sharing information they consider important and useful.  They tend to communicate thoughts about concepts and ideas.  Their goal is to get to the point so they can get back to work.

7.  Whereas some are energized by interacting with others, that’s not the case of introverts.  Being in large groups can be draining to them, and they need time alone to recharge and reflect.

8.  An introvert does his/her best work in a quiet, independent environment.  They are comfortable with silence.  They don’t need to work collaboratively to be creative or solve problems.

9.  When learning or working, an introvert likes to focus deeply and think about specific interests.

10.  Used to being alone with their thoughts, introverts tend to be good self-starters, able to work with little to no supervision.

11.  Most introverts react quickly and strongly to new, clear stimuli.  However, they might be slow to notice small, nuanced changes from one situation to the next.

Introverts can be just as successful in their careers as extroverts, although extroverts are the ones who get more attention and praise.  Introverts simply gravitate more toward roles that have more solitude, such as accountants, engineers, writers, limnologists, hydrologists, chemists, wildlife biologists, written language translators, astronomers, computer programmers, radiologists, zoologists and long-haul truck drivers.  But if you put an introvert in a job that requires a lot of interaction with others, they will likely struggle or feel stressed and drained at the end of the day, every day.

Ambiverts

Then there are ambiverts.  Ambiverts are all over the spectrum.  Ambiverts don’t quite fit either the introvert or extrovert label but kind of fit some aspects of each.  They have some aspects of both temperaments but not all.  Here is how ambiverts are often described.

1. They don’t necessarily shy away from attention, but it depends on the context. In a lot of situations, they’re happy just quietly observing.

2. They might enjoy being in a party or group event for hours…but then suddenly their energy is gone. When this happens, they just want to get out of there.

3. Ambiverts prefer meaningful talk.  Like extroverts, they enjoy conversation — but, like introverts, they hate small talk.  They are able to make small talk, but just feel it is trite and less sincere.  So when conversations turn to the weather or something equally banal, they want the conversation to end.

4. There are limits to an ambivert’s social comfort zone. While they are comfortable socializing (most times), they usually don’t push to assert themselves or dominate the conversation.  They don’t need to be the life of the party or the one doing all the talking.

5. Ambiverts can be very reserved in certain situations, and present a very different persona at work — even with colleagues they know well and like.  But with close friends they come out of their shell and are able to be friendly and engaging.  No matter the setting, if they don’t know someone well, they tend to be more aloof and distant.

6. Like any pilot, ambiverts like to have a wingman.  They really enjoy meeting new people, but prefer to have friends around when expanding their social circle.  Ambiverts are unlikely to go up and introduce themselves to total strangers while alone but are okay to do it when accompanied by a friend or colleague.

7.  Ambiverts are okay to just hang back.  While they are excited to attend social functions, such as conferences or parties, they usually start out observing everyone before deciding to engage.   They are more likely to wait for someone to approach them.

8.  Ambiverts want alone time, but just in small doses.  Although they know they need and enjoy some alone time, one night a week is plenty.  A whole weekend alone would leave an ambivert restless and yearning for interaction and connection.

9. An ambivert generally thinks before speaking.  The ambivert doesn’t have a problem putting thoughts into words, like introverts might (unless they are writers).  But like an introvert, an ambivert will often wait to hear what others say first before speaking.  That’s because ambiverts don’t particularly like being put on the spot to speak first.

10. Like a chameleon, an ambivert adjusts, balancing out the surrounding people.  If an ambivert is with a talker, he will be quieter and listen. If he’s with someone quiet, the ambivert will talk more.

Ominverts

What are Omniverts and how are they different than Ambiverts?  While an Ambivert is someone whose overall behavior is a mix of introversion and extroversion, an Omnivert is someone who can be either an introvert or extrovert at different times.  They simply jump from one to the other, depending on the situation.

If you want to know what personality type you or someone you know is?  Take the SAPA Project Personality Test.  The SAPA-Project Personality Test: Explore Your Personality (sapa-project.org) It’s free and gives some good insights on personality.  Just remember that there’s no right answer.  Just different.

 

Quote of the Week

“Introverts enjoy people-watching. Extroverts enjoy people watching.” Jomny Sun

 

© 2021, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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