The terms introvert and extrovert have been used to label individuals ever since Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud pioneered psychoanalysis and popularised theories on the power of the unconscious mind at the start of the 20th century.
Ever since, categorising people within particular frameworks has become more and more popular as a way of understanding personal behaviours, actions and future developments of character.
Understanding how an individual prefers to work, communicate, socialise and spend their time, will help you to understand what makes them tick, what makes them happy and what you can to do to get them to open up or carry out a task on your behalf.
Within a business environment, it’s critical to understand how to communicate with people with diverse personality types in order to maximise their personal success and the wider success of a team and entire company.
So, how might we go about analysing personality types and compare them in a work setting?
The problem with a simple comparison
Ultimately, there’s no winner when it comes to which personality type is best suited to a business environment. It depends on the willingness of a business to engage and understand its workforce based on the individuals within it.
Here’s a thought experiment to highlight the point:
Let’s imagine that two businesses operating in the exact same sector with the exact same number of employees and resources were founded at the same time. One employing what you would usually associate as 100% introverts and the other employing 100% extroverts.
Which one do you believe would be the most successful?
You might immediately ask, are all the extroverts ‘typical?’ Are they all loud, confident and boisterous? Or are there some who are not as forthright?
You might also question whether the team of introverts are all bookish, thoughtful, quiet, creative, solitary, and moody?
Even boiling down the question and posing a simple 1v1 situation, there are still too many questions that you would need to ask to come up with an answer; How determined is one v the other? What do they want from the role? What are their ambitions in life?
The complexity is simply too great to make an astute prediction, a point which is understood by modern behavioural psychologists.
The spectrum of personality types and communicating effectively
To be able to compare and contrast the variety of personality types we all have, we need a better model to identify individuals within, which is where the Myers Briggs personality test comes in.
It is also sensible to use the Ambivert Personality Continuum Scale to understand the point we’re making here!
According to some recently published research, where we all sit on this scale as well as our intrinsic character traits are fixed into our genetics just like hair and eye colour, which highlights how important it is to recognise the real scale of variety when it comes to comparing introverts and extroverts.
However, even though we’re doing our very best to show that the typical introvert/extrovert labels need to be expanded, we’re not suggesting that people don’t fall into some form of these categories.
So what does this mean within a business environment?
Once you understand the members in your team down to this level, it is important to communicate with them in a way which is aligned to their natural manner as this could be the difference between the success and failure of an individual in a new role.
Ultimately, this answers the question about how different personality types perform and communicate as it doesn’t actually matter what type of person you are; the focus ought to be more so on how those around you communicate and how you communicate with those around you, to ensure that you’re harnessing the natural characteristics of those in your team and they’re able to do the same for you.
If you’re an extrovert who is not managed and communicated with properly they are less likely to be successful than an introvert who is innately understood by those surrounding them, who provide the correct type of support and understanding.
This is exactly why many companies demand that new starters undertake the Myers Biggs test, they understand the importance of a bespoke approach to management and communication.
Identity and communication in an evolving world
The human brain is, inarguably, the most complex structure in the known universe. Our ability to apply our cognitive powers of planning, imagination and creative problem solving, to design and build the world around us, is truly miraculous.
And yet, scientists know more about the deepest areas of the ocean, which are the least understood regions on the planet, than they do about the brain.
Furthermore, the way in which we communicate and interact with each other online is literally changing the structure and chemistry of our brains, so the nature of our identity and personality may change faster than it ever has in human history, who knows where it could lead?
Here is a fantastic article that makes you think about your social media use.
The most important point from all of this is that you understand that with small changes in your own communication with colleagues, you could enjoy incredible benefits, whether that is from a team that works for you or with your senior management.
If somebody feels that you intrinsically understand them, you will be in the best position to get what you want from them.
It is also just as important to tell those around you, which is the best way to communicate information and how you like to work so you give yourself the best chance to succeed.