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Conquering the Introvert-Extrovert Communication Gap, Part 2

Extroverts: Let introverts finish; then count to three before speaking.

I recently shared what every introvert needs to know to communicate well with extroverts*. Now let's look at the other side of the coin, from my book, Self-Promotion for Introverts®: The Quiet Guide to Getting Ahead:

How extroverts can communicate well with introverts

  • Welcome introverts to state our opinions, but avoid putting us on the spot. Distribute an agenda and ask for our input privately, by e-mail, prior to a meeting to give us time to compose our thoughts.
  • Avoid asking introverts questions that we may experience as too personal or invasive; be patient with our need to get to know you over time.
  • Limit chitchat to the beginning of a conversation, and get to the more substantive parts more quickly.
  • Just as you may have a breadth of knowledge on many topics, appreciate introverts for our depth of knowledge about a few topics.
  • Make appointments with introverts rather than dropping by unannounced.
  • Respect introverts' need for private space. Do not stand too close during a conversation or reach into our space.
  • Remember that what you find stimulating (e.g., multitasking) may be overwhelming for introverts; many of us need to quietly focus on one thing at a time.
  • Consider meeting with your introverted colleagues in a quiet space to help ensure minimal interruptions. Do something more social before and after the meeting if you need more people time.
  • Give introverts time alone to do our best thinking and allow for sufficient breaks during meetings.
  • Recognize that introverts tend to undersell our accomplishments and potential contributions.
  • Let introverts finish speaking, count to three (to yourself!), and then speak; do not fill in the pauses.

For more stories about introverts and extroverts, see "5 Things Every Introvert Should Know About Extroverts (and Vice Versa)" and "Secrets to a Successful Introvert-Extrovert Team."

Excerpt adapted from: Nancy Ancowitz, Self-Promotion for Introverts®: The Quiet Guide to Getting Ahead, McGraw-Hill, 2009, pp. 217-219.

*Also spelled "extraverts" by Carl Jung and the communities of the MBTI® and other personality assessments such as the Five Factor Model.

© Copyright 2010 Nancy Ancowitz

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