Introverts or extroverts: which one makes the best employee?

Oh, how I adore this theme…

What is an introvert?

By definition, introverts are “individuals who are predominantly concerned with their own thoughts and feelings rather than with external things”.

According to Carol Bainbridge’s article in About.com, “an introvert is a person who is energized by being alone and whose energy is drained by being around other people”.

According to Thesaurus.com, the definition for introvert is : “reserved”. And some of the synonyms are: bashful, cautious, quiet, secretive and soft-spoken.

What about the extrovert?

Thesaurus.com defines an extrovert as a “sociable person”. And cites some synonyms such as: gregarious person, show-off, exhibitionist.

Oxford Dictionary defines as “an outgoing, overtly expressive person”.

And Vocabulary.com, defines as  “someone who’s outgoing and social”.

Hmmm, let’s see. My definitions for introvert would include: analytical, observant, calm, reflective and listener.

The extrovert would also get from my definition: outgoing, cheerful, enthusiastic, expressive, contagious and persuasive.

So, which one would make a better employee?

Well, it all depends on what kind of role we are talking about!

Let me give as an example a call center, where associates receive “sales calls” and “customer care calls”.

Let’s say the associate has to sell clothes. Think about the store environment, where you can show the clothe, the customer can touch it, try it on. Where you can pick different options and put together outfits, so you can show the versatility, how the same item can be used can be used for work and weekend, for day and for night.

Now, remove the associate from that environment and put him/her on the phone, where the most he/she will have will be a computer screen with description and maybe some photos of the product. He/she will have to count on one’s enthusiasm, ability to involve the customer emotionally, to persuade the customer into buying something that he/she cannot touch or try on.

Who do you think would have a better chance to sell? I would say the extroverts. For the simple reason that they will naturally talk with the customer, and explain on the positive features of the product (or service), ask about the customer lifestyle, adjust their pitch to fit the customer’s need. And they can involve the customer emotionally (you know when the salesperson starts asking about the kids, and that soccer game or the boyfriend’s birthday party?), offer several options, sound cheerful and confident and are likely to close the deal.

How do you imagine an introvert making the same sale?

On a different situation though, the customer called because the product that she bought on clearance was not the color that she expected, and although she knows your policy of not accepting clearance items returns, she really wants to send t back and be reimbursed. Sounds familiar?

Guess what? She first wants someone who will listen to her: she is frustrated, mad and needs to talk to someone.

Than she needs someone who will work with her, keep a calm tone, analyze the situation and find her a solution. She needs someone patient, who will listen to her complaints over and over again.

Who do you think would be the better listener? Who would have the patience to look into her specific situation to find a solution? I can tell you – the introvert!

Same work environment, sale “role” – customer care/sales agent”, completely different characteristics.

You can think about other roles inside the same company: who would be better for a customer face role, who would be a better researcher, who would better analyze the business, who would be better presenters, and the list goes on and on.

What I mean with all this is that there is the need for both the introvert and the extrovert in most workplaces, and as long as we can identify them and respect their strengths, the good results will blow in our favor.

Balance your team by getting the best of each one of your employees, respecting their personalities and assigning them to the right projects, handling the right tasks, taking the right responsibilities. Listen to their body language and empower who they are.

Your rewards will be countless!

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