Part of the reason I took a break from blogging has to do with on onslaught of people arguing about the validity of terms like introvert and extrovert. It got me to thinking about these terms and how accurate and relevant they are. And, here’s what I’ve decided. They are incredibly relevant.
No one is claiming that these terms are scientific in any way, but studies do show that some groups of people are energized by large crowds and interactions with lots of other people, and some people are drained by the same interactions. This doesn’t mean that this second group of people don’t enjoy social interaction, in fact some introverts are incredibly social, they just come away from the experience feeling differently than extroverts and they need quiet time to re-charge.
I fit squarely into this second category as do many people I know, and in an increasingly social world with open concept offices, more condos going up all around us and populations continuing to grow, an understanding of what introverts need to be productive and happy is more important now than ever.
So if you find yourself wondering how to reach that quieter employee or how to get your “homebody” friends to come out with you more often, remember to practice a little patience and consider a different approach. For example, maybe that employee would feel more comfortable speaking up in meetings if they knew they wouldn’t be interrupted by their more extroverted colleagues. Some offices use the “spirit stick” policy. You know that idea where only the person with the stick can speak? It might be a little cheesy, but at least it gives everyone an equal chance to contribute and makes it more obvious when someone interrupts or talks over someone else.
It is this kind of discussion that has brought me back into the game of writing about what it means to be an introvert or an extrovert and why that conversation is so important.
Lastly, I’d like to share a video of an office that seems to be doing it right! When I first saw this, I’ll admit I called them out on not creating an environment where introverts would thrive, and possibly being at risk of not having a diverse workforce with a good balance of introverts and extroverts. Well, they promptly tweeted back assuring me that they have nap rooms where anyone can go to re-charge, as well as ample meeting spaces for quiet work.
Check out the offices of FreshBooks: