Being an extrovert on an introvert team.

Today’s post is being written with one of my favorites! A big cup of Brazilian roast coffee with a pinch of cinnamon, 4 spoons of sugar, and vanilla creamer. A perfect drink to get you going!

When I was in high school I got a job at McDonald’s. On my very first day of work they taught me how to drop fries, pull them up, salt them, and bag them. After a good fifteen minutes of working the fries station the manager left the floor and disappeared. There was only two people working up front; the front drive worker and the person working

counter. The window worker needed someone to bag the food and clear the orders off. Naturally, I filled up enough fry boxes and then began bagging food. After an hour or so doing this alone I found my self dropping fries, bagging food, and delivering food to counter. The manager eventually came back and noticed how I took charge. After that day my career at McDonald’s took off. Before I knew it I was a crew trainer for the grill department and eventually made my way up to management. I was the youngest manager in history of that store. Having worked there for sometime I met new workers. Some came with much enthusiasm to dive right in and others much more timid. I felt that working at McDonald’s everything was self-explanatory and easy. It never occurred to me that someone who is shy and more to them self would find working in this environment overwhelming and chaotic.

My second time experiencing this was when I worked in the dorms as a Resident Assistant. Very few RA’s were assertive and able to “lay down the law”. The other RA’s were more timid and laid back and didn’t like confrontation. I had a very difficult time understanding why it was so difficult for some of the RA’s to be firm in their approach. When there is a problem among the residents the RA’s are supposed to step in and take control of the situation and guide residents to a mutual agreement. Yet I found myself being the one everyone went to for conflict control.

It wasn’t until RA training last fall semester when I realized why they had chosen some introverted RA’s to be on staff. There are some things that extroverts struggle with. I had seen this first hand. Being an extrovert I struggle with my patience with others. I’m quick to speak and I neglect to realize the outcome of my quick tongue. My fellow RA Sharon on the other hand, is more of an introvert. She was amazing at handling personal situations that I would have found annoying and a waste of my time. Despite what I thought about the certain situation I still took the time to try to solve the problem or be comforting. Sometimes I didn’t do the best job at this. Thus, I would ask for advice from Sharon or I would call her to come help take care of the situation.

So my question is, what do you do when you’re working with your opposite? Most of us would agree that communication in any type of work is key, especially when you have to work together on a project.

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My first semester of being an RA I really struggled with communicating with the other RA’s in my building as well as some of my residents. I came into the RA job mid semester so I was new compared to everyone else. One of the RA’s was really loud and out spoken and had no problem taking charge and telling everyone what to do. The other RA was quiet, timid, and pretty much stayed in his room. Communication between all of us was seldom and so it was until the end of the semester. My third semester of being an RA I went to  two-week training that would prepare us for the coming year. This is when I learned everything I needed when it came to communicating with others in the work place.

During this two-week training the Resident Hall Managers told all the RA’s why they were chosen to be an RA. They divided us up based on being an introvert or extrovert. They put one extrovert in every building with two introverts. They believed this would balance out the building. From there the RHMs gave us mock scenarios and asked us how we would solve the situation. Within our group we presented what our plan of action would be. This was one of the biggest eye openers for me, I learned a lot about a less aggressive form of action and how sometimes taking a more reserved and quiet approach to something is more effective than diving in and taking charge. We also talked about our strengths and our weaknesses. I found that where I lacked, the introverts really shined, and vice-versa. After a long day of training everyone would go back to their building and spend time with the people in their building. Taking the time to get to know the people I was working with gave me a good idea of who I was working with and how to work with them. People who are introverts enjoy the quiet and slow pace of life. A small get together doing a calm activity is the speed of an introvert. I found that doing little activities like this with a smaller group was not only relaxing, but the kind of event I was going to need to do with the type of residents that I was going to have.

Throughout the year, I took my experience with my fellow RA’s and utilized it to make a connection with my introvert residents. This allowed me to make a relationship with them, so when something was going on and they needed help I made it a comfortable environment for them to approach me. If I needed to approach them and talk with them, staying calm and patient with them made them feel comfortable to talk about what was going on. Knowing how to communicate and provide fun activities for my introvert residents also helped me create bonds between the introverts and extroverts. Most people made new friendships with people they would have normally never talked to.  This made for a great year.

Where ever you work you will come across a variety of types of people. No one can be all introvert or all extrovert, people are generally somewhere in the middle leaning towards one side more than the other. I didn’t realize how important it was to a have a mixture of people on a team. Knowing which one you are and what the people around you is will help you communicate effectively and work together in harmony.

Below are two charts on how to care for extroverts and introverts. As an extrovert I agree with the 10 listed below. I am very independent and driven and I love to figure things out on my own. Having friends who are introverts I would agree with the 12 items listed for them, especially number 12. If I’ve learned anything from my introvert friends it is that you can NOT force and introvert to be an extrovert. Introverts are comfortable in their space and won’t venture far from their space unless they want to.

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Extroverts shouldn’t push or pressure introverts. Approaching introverts calmly with an open mind will create a comfortable opening for a conversation. Being an extrovert don’t hesitate to take charge, but make sure you ask an introvert for their input. Give an introvert a specific job that they can work on, on their own that allows them to contribute to the project. Don’t talk over or quiet an introverts thoughts and opinions. Take the time to get to know an introvert on a one-on-one basis.

Overall, my experiences have helped me relate to and communicate with introverts. I myself have even adopted some introvert habits that have helped me be a better team player.

Let me know what some of your experiences working with an introvert or extrovert. What have you learned that helps you effectively communicate with them?

Click on the link below and take the assessment. Which one are you? Do you agree with your results?

http://www.danpink.com/assessment

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