How to Thrive In an Introverted/Extroverted Workplace

image source: http://wildhairmedia.com/2011/10/30/introverts-vs-extroverts-who-benefits-more-from-social-media/

image source: http://wildhairmedia.com/2011/10/30/introverts-vs-extroverts-who-benefits-more-from-social-media/

This guest post was written by Jabril Robinson, a Career Development intern and graduate student in the College Student Development and Counseling program here at NU.

Personality is defined as “the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s unique character” (Psychology Today). Understanding one’s personality type is crucial, not only in adapting to a workplace environment, but also selecting a workplace to be a member of in the first place. One of the most common examples of personalities comes down to extroversion and introversion. Although these may be widely used terms, I’ve noticed in my experience that relatively few people actually understand what encompasses an introvert or an extrovert, and what essentially makes them different. If you are one of those individuals who find the subject to be perplexing (or just have a general interest), please read on!

Q: What is the difference between an Introvert and an Extrovert?

A: Introvert: Not surprisingly, introverts are re-energized by having “alone time”. Even when working with small groups of people, they can be quickly overwhelmed by unfamiliar situations or surroundings. Depending on the situation, a large crowd of people can be an instant red flag to an introvert. When it comes to work, introverts prefer to concentrate on one task at a time, and observe a situation (or group of people) in advance, before jumping in.

Careers that promote the strengths of introverts include scientists, writers, and artists. Famous examples of introverts include actress Julia Roberts, actor Clint Eastwood, host David Letterman, and author J.K Rowling.

A: Extrovert: Often referred to as “social butterflies”, extroverts make a living through social stimulation. They focus on elements of the external environment (in contrast to an introvert’s inner mental realm), such as the people on activities around them. Extroverts thrive in active, fast-paced jobs, such as sales, teaching, and politics, where skills such as adaptability, problem-solving, and quick decision-making are critical. Extroverts learn firsthand by doing, and prefer to talk through ideas and solutions. Multitasking is an extrovert’s bread and butter.

Famous examples of extroverts include Oprah Winfrey, President Barack Obama, actor Tom Hanks, and former NBA player Michael Jordan.

Q: Are there misconceptions regarding Introverts or Extroverts?

A: Indeed! For instance, shyness is a trait commonly used to describe introverts. Firstly, both introverts and extroverts can be shy. Shyness is essentially a feeling of uneasiness of anxiety experienced in social situations. Here’s the key difference between shyness and introversion: while introverts prefer less social stimulation, shy people often desire social interaction, yet avoid it for fear of being rejected or criticized. Boom! Introverts rejoice!

A misconception involving extroversion is that all extroverts are loud, annoying, and talk too much. While this may be true for some individuals, not all extroverts are such. Extroverts simply prefer to think out loud, whereas an introvert may do more internal thinking before speaking–just a style difference.

There are several other misunderstandings when defining introversion and extroversion, which brings me to my next point….

To be a successful employee, it is crucial to understand not only yourself, but also the personalities of those around you in the workplace. Issues can arise when introverts and extroverts interact. Introverts may see extroverts as bossy, while an extrovert may see an introvert as shy or withdrawn. Whether an introvert or extrovert, here’s some advice that may help you understand what is going on across the fence:

What extroverts should know about their introverted colleagues:

1) If we need alone time, it is not because we don’t like you, rather because we need it–don’t take that as a personal insult.

2) If you want to hear our opinion, please be patient. We aren’t in a rush to speak up–we know we will have our turn eventually.

3) We are not lonely people, but we are choosy about who we associate ourselves with. If you try to turn us into extroverts, you will not be one of those people!

What introverts should know about their extroverted colleagues:

1) If we try to get you to loosen up, we aren’t doing so to annoy you. Honestly, we mean well.

2) If you are struggling with small talk, we can help with that–it is a useful skill, whether you like it or not.

3) We are not all the same–just like introverts. There are extroverts who have a quiet side too–you just have to keep an open mind.

Not sure where you fit on the extroversion/introversion spectrum? Set up an hour-long appointment with a counselor in the Office of Career Development! Utilizing personality assessments, we can help you identify your strengths, weaknesses, and what career paths may best serve your abilities.

Jabril Robinson is a Career Development Intern at Northeastern University. He has a growing interest in personality assessment, such as Strengthsquest, True Colors, and several others. Currently enrolled in Northeastern University’s College Student Development & Counseling Program, Jabril seeks a Master’s degree within student affairs. Send him an email at j.robinson@neu.edu!

Keep Calm and Body Language

Image Source: http://www.quickmeme.com/

Image Source: http://www.quickmeme.com/

This guest post was written by Mike Ahern, a Northeastern University Career Development intern and graduate student studying higher education at Salem State University. 

Body language; it’s important. Stepping into the hiring manager’s office, shaking his/hers hand and sitting down you have an invaluable opportunity to impact your chances of landing the job. Whether those chances increase or decrease is entirely up to you and how you present yourself. Below you’ll find a few simple but effective ways to leave a lasting impact and project your brand as a potential employee. Let’s talk body language strategies.

Smiling: Too often candidates will miss this incredibly easy way to leave a lasting impact on the hiring manager. Due to the gravity of what getting a job “means” sometimes candidates will approach the interview in a very serious manner, which is understandable. But consider this; would you want to hire a candidate who’s stuck in Blue Steel mode during the interview? (…yes that was a Zoolander reference, you’re welcome…) Smiling can convey a variety of messages in our society not the least of which can be confidence, calm and last but not least a friendly demeanor.  Studies have even shown that smiling can greatly affect your self-perception, with more smiling leading to a happier psyche.  Also keep in mind it’s impossible to smile 24/7. Ever have to stand for a photo and keep smiling through multiple takes? Not the most comfortable feeling in the world, it’s ok to stop smiling or display a neutral facial expression. Just don’t frown your way through the conversation.

Posture:  Job interview or not, you should sit up straight. For a variety of reasons correcting bad posture will work wonders for your overall health. As far as body language is concerned, slouching or other displays of poor posture can negatively impact a hiring manager’s impression of you. More often than not leaning back or slouching down can portray boredom or disinterest. Conversely leaning too far in can crowd the interviewer and possible invade their personal space. Try to settle for a happy medium with a straight back and attentive expression. Sit up in the seat and position your feet evenly apart in a comfortable manner. Also pay attention to your arm position. Don’t cross your arms as it can imply that you are uneasy or closed off. Understanding the impact of posture on body language can go a long way to projecting your brand as an invested potential employee

Eye Contact: In Western culture eye contact is an important part of any conversation. It can portray respect, attentiveness and understanding. Equally important, it shows the hiring manager you can focus on the task at hand. Making eye contact and following the conversation is vital. If you are distracted and taking time to consider the generic artwork on the walls, chances are good you’ve missed an opportunity to connect with the interviewer or even worse, missed a question. Similar to the concept of neutral posture, there is a fine line between too much eye contact and not enough. Intently staring at the interviewer without breaking eye contact can be seen as aggressive or, quite frankly, awkward. On the other hand shifting your eyes back and forth between the interviewer and the floor isn’t a good look (pun intended). Consider following along with conversation, frequently making eye contact with the interviewer while briefly breaking eye contact to consider a point or take time to think of an answer.

Ultimately there are hundreds of body language strategies to subtly impact your chances of landing the job. These are three simple yet often overlooked aspects of body language that can portray an invested potential employee. Another thing to consider is that if you are an NU student or alumni (which you probably are if you’re on this blog) log into Husky Career Link on our website www.northeastern.edu/careers. Navigate to “Interview Stream” at the bottom of the home page. Here is a tool provided at no cost to current and former Northeastern University students where you can literally film yourself during an interview then reel back the tape and take in how you present through body language. After all, keep in mind that only you can prevent frowning, poor posture and a lack of eye contact when interviewing for a position.

Mike Ahern is a Career Development Intern at Northeastern University in Career Development. Currently he is pursuing a graduate degree in Higher Education in Student Affairs at Salem State University. Connect with Mike on LinkedIn at  https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikeahern1 or on Twitter @MIkeAAhern