When it comes to hiring, people sometimes like to put you in a neat category, which is why the Myers-Briggs test is still a thing during some recruitment processes. When I had to take the test on joining one of my previous companies, I fell in the middle - both extroverted and introverted. Of course, that made sense to me. I’ve always been client facing in my career, and I love it but it simultaneously exhausts me. When I worked in sales, by the weekend I didn’t want to speak to anyone, I had run out of chat.
But my experience of taking the test twice and getting different results are not unique, in fact the publishers of the test also found that 50% of participants change at least one of their four types when they retake the test.
People often describe an introvert as someone who is shy or quiet, while an extrovert is someone who is outgoing and likes to be heard. It is actually better to think of where you draw your energy from in social situations. When an introvert and an extrovert are in social situations, the introvert gives their energy to the people in the room, and needs to take time out later to recuperate that energy. In comparison, an extrovert gets their energy from people, but still needs some downtime to recuperate from people fatigue.
Which one sounds like you?
From these descriptions, it’s actually clear that neither personality type is better than another, but it useful to understand where you draw your energy from. Below are some tips to get ahead without turning into an extrovert.
Don’t try and force being an extrovert
Being a fake extrovert can be exhausting. Every day can feel a like a performance which can lead to burn out. Some people are naturally ambiverts, and arguably everyone at any one time can be a mix of introverted and extroverted characteristics. The MBTI sorts people into 16 personality categories, but most psychologists agree that individual differences in personality are better described by continuous traits than discrete type categories. They note that distributions of scores on the MBTI scales are continuous, with most scores in the middle rather than piling up at the low and high end, as type theory might predict. So don’t try to be something that you are not!
Introverts tend to be good listeners, allowing other people the opportunity to share their ideas with them fully without interrupting and offering unsolicited feedback or opinions. Listening is an important skill in a leader, it encourages a team dialogue, increases morale and can foster innovative thoughts.
An introvert’s comfortable space in a meeting is listening and taking in all the details presented into consideration, which can be mistaken for shyness. Challenge yourself to speak up and contribute constructively to the meeting within the first 10-15 minutes. This way you are recognised as engaged participant, and you can use the rest of the meeting time to continue to gain all the information as you would before.
Recognise your strengths
Introverts are not natural self-promoters, so it is useful to have a personal pitch prepared so that when a situation arises that you have to present yourself, you have something on hand. Extroverts may find this easy, which is one of the reasons it seems that they get noticed more.
Having trouble thinking of some strengths? As introverts tend to be able to work well alone, they need very little supervision. This can be highlighted as a strength! Try leading with: “I can take charge of a task and run with it, with very little guidance.”
And A Tip For Extroverts...
Take a leaf out of the introversion book! Introverts can be more reflective and considerate about their ideas. Extroverts could benefit from taking a moment before blurting out their ideas just to be heard! Are you an extrovert that needs some advice on how to listen? Learn how to really, really listen here!
We should stop pitting extroverts and introverts against each other, as diverse personalities in a team are a benefit, not a drawback! If you do think that you are an introvert, try a couple of these steps to get your voice heard.
Are you an introvert? How do you get your voice heard in a crowd of extroverts?