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Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Are You Dealing With Introverts or Extroverts?

Interesting piece on Mashable recently, suggesting that most social networkers are in fact introverts. That means they are driven by their own thoughts and feelings, whereas extroverts are driven by external interaction (I think you could be neither - i.e. somewhere in between on the continuum - but not simply "both", as the Mashable poll suggested).

For any online service provider this begs the question whether your customers are introverts, extroverts or neither, and how you should manage your marketing and communications for each type. However, assuming your objective is to generate passion and connection amongst your customers as a community, then perhaps its better to view your staff and customers as a team comprising all types who need to get along.

Further, as Idea points out, the introvert/extrovert dichotomy is but one aspect of personality and how personalities interact in a team scenario:
"In the Myers-Briggs assessment, personality characteristics are categorized along four continuums: Introvert/Extrovert; Sensing/Intuition; Thinking/Feeling; and Judging/Perceiving....
Whereas introverted team members need extroverts to initiate spontaneous verbal discussions, extroverts value an introvert’s capability for problem solving based on careful reflection and consideration of all ideas....

intuitive members need sensing personalities to remind them of facts and limitations. Conversely, sensing individuals need intuitive members to remind them to think outside of the box....

As team members, thinkers are effective in articulating logical reasons behind decisions, while feelers can bring people together....

A team needs the right mix of judging and perceiving personalities to ensure adaptability as well as adherence to project boundaries and deadlines."
Now I don't want to stifle debate, but some takeaways might be:
  1. An extrovert staffer could be asked to initiate discussions and debates, but might need to take some care to leave the discussion and conclusion open to engage the introverts;
  2. Provide opportunities for people to think outside the box;
  3. Articulate not only the reasons for decisions but also acknowledge how the decisions make people feel;
  4. Demonstrate flexibility, but set expectations about any constraints on flexibility, like resources and deadlines.
Discuss?
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