How to Be More Effective: Tips for Extroverts

In a recent comment, Cary remarked, “what I’d really like to see is productivity/interaction tips aimed at extroverts. I get a little fed up with so much advice being aimed at introverts as if extroverts don’t have any behaviors that can hinder them.” This is a good point. I think the reason that so many articles address introversion is because North American culture is so rewarding of extraverted-type behaviors.

But just because one is extraverted does not mean that they have good social skills. Actually, extraversion can actually sometimes get in the way of social graces because extraverts tend to think out loud, sharing information faster than they are able to censor. With that in mind, here are some tips for using those natural talents and making up for the quick tongue.

Interruption Fix

Don’t interrupt; easier said than done, huh?  Stop yourself and apologize as soon as you realize you’ve done it, even if you are mid-sentence. When you and another start talking at the same time, insist they share their thoughts first. Realize that every time you cut someone off, you are preventing the flow of new ideas.

Be a Boundary Spanner

Leverage your propensity to socialize into a career and organizational advantage. Establish relationships with colleagues outside of your department, function, geographical location, business sector, or industry. Things often come up in casual conversation that can help break down organizational silos or bring new life to stalled projects. Be generous with connecting people within your network.

Quick Tips

  • Listen. When others are talking, listen patiently, and pay attention to nonverbal and potential hidden meanings.
  • Pause yourself. Ask if you have answered the question or check for understanding. Are people listening or simply being polite?
  • Be concise. You may be long-winded with sharing experiences and giving examples. If you cannot keep it short, be sure to summarize.
  • Ask for an opinion. It is likely that everyone is familiar with your stance on a subject. Allow others to share theirs.
  • Create stimuli. If the office is too quiet, play some music to help you work. Use headphones to be considerate to nearby introverts.

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  • Cary

    Thanks for taking my comment and turning it in to a really helpful blog post.

    Your right American culture awards extroversion so it isn't seen as being a “problem”. When I read Introvert Power I was floored by Laurie Helgoe's description of the more introverted Scandinavian culture. It fits in with my own experience as I loved Oslo when I visited. I secretly imagine that the Scandinavian blogosphere is filled with articles like Extraverts: Learn to Introvert to Succeed.

  • I'd like to add one: “Read _Really READ_ the emails from introverts”.

    I am an innie, and I get my best stuff out in writing when I have a chance to think it through and mull it over. Every single word of my email matters. I try to keep them short and to the point, and I try to creatively use bold and other stuff to let the extroverts skim easily.

    But my extroverted honey and bosses have always just used my emails as jumping off points for what I see as useless conversations. They don't read them. they gist them. and then they ask me questions that I've already answered in that email that they didn't read.

    I struggle with not feeling heard a lot. In conversation, and in general. Having my emails and texts gisted and then ignored drives me ABSOLUTELY CRAZY.

    The other thing I use a lot in conversations is my “loading bar”. I tell my extroverts that I have a loading bar, that the system hasn't crashed, there's just a delay as I think through the thing we're discussing. Admitting that there's a loading bar – that I've heard their question and am working on it often helps slow them down enough to get them to wait for me to finish processing.

    So, what I want is for an extrovert to READ my fricking email, to say “I've read your email and I see that you've already got the basic numbers, but what I want to ask you about is this…” use the email for a springboard for ACTUAL useful conversation, rather than just ignoring all the hard work I've already done.

    Sorry for the vent.

  • Eva, nice job addressing an underserved audience! I have seen tons of advice geared towards introverts but this is the first time I've seen extroverts addressed.

  • Donna Dunning

    Hi Eva,

    Great tips. I totally agree with your comment that many people assume Extaverts are skilled at communication when really they have their own typical strengths and challenges. I can add another couple of practical tips. Extraverts can learn to pause after speaking (especially when they ask a question) and wait for a response. This gives others a chance to gather their thoughts and contribute more (Alicia has learned to ask for this space in a very clever way, but she shouldn't have to). They can also let people know when they are thinking out loud, so others can recognize this process and not misinterpret what is being said as well developed ideas. I think extraversion and introversion are both positive ways to gather energy and orient to the world. Everyone needs to reflect and act. Hopefully articles like yours will build appreciation and understanding of these differences!

  • Yup! I haven't read Introvert Power, but I've lived in Eastern Europe and one of the most noticeable cultural differences has been just that. It is seen as normal to be calm, reserved in your demeanor there but if I am not bubbly and smiley at all times of day here, people assume something is wrong.

  • That's a good one! I can't stand it when people don't read my emails.

  • Thanks, it's a good feeling to know I've written something that is not redundant! Speaking of which, any introverts out there dislike redundancy or is that just a personal preference on my part?

    • Anonymous

      I can’t stand repetition unless it’s intential and consistent, like in a *good* lecture — then it’s helpful because I can dial back my attention receptors and relax, knowing that I’ll hear what’s important enough times not to have to focus on trying to remember it or worry about missing it if I’m not paying attention once or twice.

      It’s only a problem when the person repeating is *incoherent* or unaware that they’re repeating or they think I’m arrogant (and a dummy– because I “couldn’t possibly” have understood them the first time). It’s really just because they think they’re communicating more effectively simply by repeating. They don’t understand that it’s much like speaking louder in the exact same foreign language to someone who has already indicated that they don’t and won’t understand, or yelling at a mute who’s already indicated they’re not deaf.

      The real kicker is when they continue to expect extroverted-gauge “feedback” and “body language” when they continue to monologue on something they already said 5 times or are spilling a torrent of what you know are irrelevancies only to get to the point 10 minutes later.  I feel like, if they want my energy and attention, they better darn well have the courtesy to expend some of their own and think about what they’re saying before or while they say it and say it in a clear and concise manner: I’m not going to be the only one paddling this boat!

      But then, outside of learning formal public speaking, I’ll bet many extroverts never have to learn that *good* communication involves *skills*  that *earn* others’ engagement and that attention and positive feedback are not a birthright…

  • Good tips, thanks for sharing!

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