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Introverts VS. Extroverts in the Workplace

Would it surprise you that extroverts are generally happier people? Research published in PeerJ stated that outgoing people are happier because they have higher quality social relationshps and greater ability to regulate their emotions than introverts. If you think about the happiest people you know personally, they tend to talk to everyone with greater ease. They seem happy in […]

Would it surprise you that extroverts are generally happier people? Research published in PeerJ stated that outgoing people are happier because they have higher quality social relationshps and greater ability to regulate their emotions than introverts. If you think about the happiest people you know personally, they tend to talk to everyone with greater ease. They seem happy in many situations that introverts find distasteful or intimidating to say the least. In this piece, we discuss how introverts are more easily distracted and how that affects the sales world. In the end, it won’t be surprising that we need to adapt our workplaces to meet the needs of both extroverts and introverts.

The Background on Introverts

Have you ever been bothered while you are trying to work by something as mundane as the dog scratching at the door to get in? But it’s not time to let him in yet, and it’s completely understandable that you want to finish your work before the rest of the family gets home. We could argue that the introvert would keep working until being finished while the extrovert will stop and greet the dog upon his return to the house (although he really didn’t go anywhere). Similarly, the noise of a TV show or the neighbor cutting his grass could drive anyone crazy who needs silence to focus. Having the radio on helps other people to concentrate. These are usually extroverts who like to have such noise in the background because it is a subtle replacement for human dialogue or even office chatter while they are working on some task. Extroverts are frequently focusing their attention outward even when they should be taking the time to focus inward. Just put on ear buds and then everyone’s happy. Or, so you are inclined to think.

How Things Have Changed

The truth is that people didn’t always work like this. When people live together or work together, they must work to find a balance in their relationship. They have to invest time in learning each other’s habits and to make adjustments through frequent negotations. If you crave stimulation, then you wouldn’t mind working in an office with an open floor plan or sharing a loft apartment with a romantic partner or a roommate. If you crave quiet and the ability to concentrate on work, then you need a cubby away from the world. If you have ever been to the Apple store in a retail mall, then there are examples of open floor plans and workstations at different heights where associates can casually meet with customers. While one sales transaction can take well over an hour, this occurs in a noisy, busy customer area. Employees use iPads or other computers to meet each customer’s needs.

What You Should Know About Open Spaces

While you may want to work in a space with an open floor plan, you are typically limited to what your employer offers. That is, unless you can get permission to work from home or spend a lot of time working at the nearest Starbucks. Some people find it completely unacceptable to work in an open area because they cannot escape constant movement and noise. Too many distractions render them less productive than they would be working in a private room.

What is Your Personality?

It’s easy to tell if you are a person with an introverted or extroverted personality. You could take an online quiz or invest in a formal assessment such as the Myers-Briggs personality test. You can easily determine if you are able to work in a noisy workplace. You can also wear headphones at work in a noisy place, but then you have to play music at a high volume to block out the noise. However, wearing headphones will help you get a reputation as an introvert or a loner. Many of us are willing to take that risk.

Are There Any Brain Differences Here?

Typically, extroverts perform better when exposed to louder noise even wearing headsets playing sound content at higher volumes. On the other hand, introverts need the quieter atmosphere or at least trying to maintain a low volume on their headset. That’s because they are more sensitive to noise. The difference here is in how the brain works. People have different noise preferences. Therefore, the extrovert will seek out noise even when he or she is not surrounded by other people. Introverts will be drawn to quieter places and will do their best thinking alone. Both types of personalities love to people-watch because they can read the body language of others and infer many intimate things about total strangers.

In conclusion, there will be some exceptions to these general patterns but not often in the typical workplace. In a sales environment, employers should provide at least one room where employees can take clients for a quiet chat. Introverted sales associates will receive the opportunity to perform better minus the noises and distractions of an open workspace.

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