When working in a team, it’s likely that you will have to work with people who aren’t like you. The differences between introverts and extroverts are well-known. While introverts prefer less stimulation and need to spend time alone to focus and develop their thoughts, extroverts’ brains require higher levels of external simulation and dopamine to function and thrive in group settings.
Introverts and extroverts are simply wired differently. But these differences in temperament can cause several challenges when these two personality types have to work together. “Because the two personality types communicate in different ways, they won’t always understand the other’s traits and temperament,” says Dr. Jeff Nalin, licensed clinical psychologist and cofounder and chief clinical officer at Paradigm Malibu Treatment Centers. Without this proper understanding, extroverts can feel that introverts are antisocial, while introverts see extroverts as overbearing and impulsive.
Yet despite their differences, Nalin says introverts and extroverts can work together effectively. More importantly, they can learn new skills from each other. “Each personality type brings something different to the table. Where one is weak, the other is strong. The magic happens when people stop focusing on the disparities, and choose instead to appreciate each other’s innate skills and personality traits,” says Nalin.
Here are six lessons introverts and extroverts can learn from each other.
1. Introverts can learn to make conversation like extroverts
For introverts, socializing and making conversation doesn’t come naturally. Some may even avoid group settings for fear of being uncomfortable. By observing how extroverts engage in small talk, introverted individuals can improve their conversation skills and their confidence in group settings. “Learning to master small talk with a few coworkers is a great way for introverted people to increase their confidence without venturing too far from their comfort zone,” says Nalin.
2. Extroverts can learn to listen like an introvert
Introverts tend to be strong listeners and have keen observational skills. They tend to speak less in conversations, focusing on what the other person is saying instead of their own response. Extroverts, on the other hand, are often so busy engaging with others that they fail to listen well to others. By learning to take a step back, pausing before they speak, allowing others to speak, and thinking about what others are saying before expressing their own thoughts, extroverts can allow themselves to gain critical insight into people.
3. Introverts can learn to step outside their comfort zone
Extroverts tend to be open-minded and a little daring, while introverts tend to prefer routine and predictability. By paying attention to the way extroverts experience new things, introverts can allow themselves to expand their horizons, experience new things, and uncover new skills and talents they didn’t know they had.
4. Extroverts can learn to deepen conversations
While extroverts are comfortable socializing in large group settings where they can engage in small talk with several individuals, introverts thrive in small group settings that allow for deeper conversations. As a result, extroverted conversations are typically lighthearted. “It can be valuable for extroverts to delve in deeper, seeking out more meaningful conversations that inspire, fulfill, and help form deeper connections,” says Nalin.
5. Introverts can learn to ask for help
Extroverted people usually have a sizeable support network that they reach out to when they need help. This comes from their ability to ask for help. Extroverts enjoy brainstorming in large groups where they can vocalize their ideas, inviting others to help them work through the idea, while introverts prefer quiet reflection and idea development in the privacy of their own surroundings. Introverts can learn how to ask others’ opinions and build their professional network.
6. Extroverts can learn the benefits of quiet reflection
Introverts tend to prioritize time to recharge their batteries. They may set aside time in the early mornings or evening hours to allow for quiet reflection or mindful meditation. Extroverts, on the other hand, tend to de-emphasize self-care. “Because extroverts are always on the go, they may neglect self-care and forget the importance of mindfulness,” says Nalin. Learning to set aside some time for gratitude and mindful meditation can provide a host of mental and physical health benefits, allowing extroverts to perform even better.