There are essentially two types of personalities that exist in the world around us. They are introverted and extroverted each type have a subset called “OK” and “Not OK” (which is discussed next). Introverted describes a personality that is inward thinking, they recover from life by being with themselves and reflecting. The will normally enjoy nature or a good book, prefer quiet areas where not a lot of people distract them. These people will often be found alone and prefer jobs that don’t involve a lot of people and that they can do independently. Being introverted doesn’t mean that a person is antisocial and it’s not a personality deficiency, it only means that someone is more comfortable being alone with their own thoughts than being in the spotlight. Extroverted people are the very opposite. They find social situations necessary and stimulating and “recharge” by hanging out with friends or going out. The like being in busy places like malls or city cores, in acting outwardly and garnering attention through telling jokes or acting funny.
Physiologists now believe that there is an actual physical difference between the nervous system of introverts and extroverts. Introverts are more easily stimulated by social interactions and quickly become oversaturated to the point where they become agitated and feel a need to withdraw. Extroverts can’t find enough stimulation and constantly need to find people to be around, and socialize with, and use social contact to feel satisfied. How you use your time most often will tell you which of the two personality types you are. With every classification, there are variants however, and people can be a mix of the two or can fall in at the extremities.
The body language of introverts in public places will be rigid; they will zone out more quickly or find quiet places and park themselves. They are at ease being alone even when at parties and might even take breaks away from the noise to ‘chill out’. They’ll spend more time at home and less time in nightclubs. The nonverbal language of the introvert will show more closed body positions. Their shoulders will pull in, they will orient their bodies away from others, they might be less animated and they will often be the first to stop speaking and resort to listening or observing others instead. They might even keep their distance more frequently, be soft spoken, initiate touch on others less and avoid eye contact. Extroverts are the opposite and tend to spontaneously turn toward people, they will start up conversations with random people, they will touch more in conversation and talk more frequently to keep the conversation going. They’ll use more gestures in speech in attempts to draw attention to themselves and generally take up more space. They will also tend to move about a room more and jump from person to person trying to get as much stimulation from others as possible. A quick test to verify extroversion from introversion is to watch how people break gaze. Generally speaking an introvert will break their gaze by looking to the right whereas extroverts will break their gaze to the left. This fact alone suggests that the differences we see between these two personality types has less to do with environment and more to do with how the brains are hardwired.
To work productively with the introverted, formulate groups as small as possible. For the introverted one on one represents the best scenario. Set up meetings in quiet areas with little distraction. Maintain as much space as possible, talk quietly, reduce eye contact, use touch infrequently or not at all. To work with the extroverted do the exact opposite. Talk louder with more expressions, touch frequently, be dynamic, move in closer, and give plenty of eye contact. Extreme extroverts and extreme introverts will be happiest at the end of their respective spectrum.
Above: Susan Cain on the power of introverts in TED talks.