In your organization, you can probably easily identify which of your employees are extroverts! But besides being extroverted, what else do you know about them?
Perhaps you are tainted by this preconceived notion of who extroverts really are and what to expect from them. They may be gregarious and excitement-seekers, but they can also be misunderstood due to this outward behaviour.
Here are a few myths about extroverts that should be dispelled in order to better comprehend and support them!
Myth about extroverts #1: They only care about what they have to say
Although extroverts are capable of embarking on lengthy discussions with just about anyone and bouncing ideas off others, this does not mean they are indifferent to what you have to say.
Sure, they might enjoy the sound of their own voice, or have a presence similar to a tornado of energy, but their social easiness does not imply a lack of sensitivity or consideration on their part. They might naturally like to steal the spotlight, but they can also be very caring and attentive to your feelings.
Let’s not forget that they are likely to be more approachable and warm at first contact than their introvert counterparts. So despite maybe having to work a little harder to get a word in with an extrovert, know that your words matter, and that they can still be considered important and memorable.
Myth about extroverts #2: They all love public speaking
There’s a reason why public speaking is among people’s top fears. Studies even suggest that people fear public speaking more than they fear death. It can cause physical distress, and intense anxiety prior to presenting, which is not exactly related to a person’s sociability, aka, being introverted or extroverted.
Perhaps there’s a likelihood that more introverts are susceptible to this fear, but we mustn’t overlook extroverts. Sure, they might get their energy by being surrounded by people and enjoy numerous social activities, but this does not eliminate their potential to feel vulnerable, fear being scrutinized or rejected by their audience, or put pressure on themselves to deliver a perfect performance.
So remember that sometimes all an extrovert wants to do is be among a crowd of people at a social gathering, not necessarily the one entertaining them.
Myth about extroverts #3: They are all good public speakers
Extroverts that enjoy public speaking and being in the spotlight are not necessarily the BEST public speakers. Of course, their natural tendency to be demonstrative, fill a room with energy and welcome an audience of strangers are definitely strengths, but these are only a part of the success.
Now, depending on the size of the group, extroverts may need to develop their capacity to listen, not only to what the audience has to say, but also to pay attention to their body language. They may crave the attention so much that they can forget to think before speaking, slow down and take pauses in order for the audience to process what they just heard, or ask the audience questions so they have a chance to contribute and share opinions in a two-way communication.
Their ability to be concise and remain within the allocated timeframe of a presentation may also be a little more difficult. Prior to a presentation, some extroverts might not feel the need to prep as much (or enough), or even want to practice certain techniques because they think their social exuberance will take them to where they need to go.
So make sure you help them develop other aspects of public speaking, not just the drawing attention part.
Myth about extroverts #4: Their high energy means they are happier than most
Happiness is very subjective, and people demonstrate their happiness in various ways. We may assume that because of their outgoingness or social displays of enthusiasm, extroverts are always way happier than, let’s say, introverts. But let’s try to break this down.
Could it be that when extroverts are happy, you are likely to know about it, hear about it, or even see it, more so than if they are introverted? Or perhaps it’s in the way extroverts describe or project their happiness. They might jump up and down and loudly define to the joy they are feeling at the moment, while others, probably more reserved, might hint a smile, or discuss their joy in a more discreet way.
So remember to check in with your extroverted employees, don’t assume that their energy, although infectious and exciting, are signs that everything is fine and that they don’t need any support. They can be just as vulnerable to stressors and having their feelings hurt.
Myth about extroverts # 5: They are all intentionally distracting
Personally, I find their energy and enthusiasm quite contagious. Of course, put them in an open office where everyone is focused on meticulous tasks, then ok, maybe there’s more of a chance that their exuberance becomes a source of distraction to others. But how I see it, if you put them in the right situations and context and BOOM, what was once distracting is now considered a strength!
The same way assigning a spontaneous person to a long drawn-up and detailed project is counterproductive, so is keeping extroverts from spreading their wings. Similar to a fish out of water, extroverts may feel out of place, unnatural and therefore unproductive in positions that require a lot of silence, solitude and minimal exchange, for instance, working from home. It’s no wonder they could seem distracting to others!
Make it a point to send them to conferences, networking activities and company events where their capacity to initiate contact and stand out are big advantages to your organization. If given the opportunity, they can be your company’s little advertisers just by being themselves. So where some see a distraction, I see a strength in need of a new setting.
Myths about extroverts exist, but so do their qualities, it’s just a matter of pointing them in the right direction and letting them shine. Don’t assume that their social easiness and extensive dialogue mean they don’t care about what you have to say, or that they are always happier than most. Just because they like to be in a crowded room doesn’t mean they are automatically experts in public speaking, or that they even enjoy doing it.
Finally, when it comes to being a distraction, there are many ways to utilise their exuberance in a positive way so that your organization can benefit. This is a strength that may prove to be a distraction when not put in the right environment or on the right task. So start effectively aligning your workforce!