The Extravert’s Advantage

Why the personality trait may deliver a career boost.

By Matthew Hutson, published October 11, 2019 - last reviewed on November 19, 2019

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Shutterstock

Introverts who struggle to speak up in meetings or resist attending networking events may suspect that their more outgoing coworkers have an unfair career advantage. Now a massive study confirms that, fair or not, extraverts do appear to have a real edge on the job.

The study, which reviewed 97 previous meta-analyses on extraversion in the workplace, found that, overall, the personality trait had a small but consistent positive effect on 90 percent of measures tested. Extravert advantages fell into three broad categories: motivation, emotional well-being, and quality of interpersonal interactions. These benefits were likely responsible for workplace success—higher performance appraisals, larger salaries, and more promotions.

The picture became more complex, however, when studies focused on different facets of extraversion. Some, such as assertiveness and enthusiasm, had consistently positive effects. Sensation-seeking, on the other hand, was less advantageous because it tended to spur procrastination and unsafe behavior. What’s more, other research suggests that some other personality traits, such as conscientiousness, may be even more beneficial for one’s career than extraversion.

All employees should recognize when extraverted behavior is called for at work and do their best to deliver, says lead author Michael Wilmot, a psychologist at the University of Toronto Scarborough. His advice to introverts: When prepping for a meeting, “gear up, execute—then take a break.”

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