In the spirit of complete transparency, let’s begin this by stating that I am an introvert.
This confession comes as a shock for some people. I mean, seriously – a recruiter who is an introvert? I mean, aren’t introverts supposed to be intensely shy, quiet and hate having to talk with people?
So why am I writing about this? I’ll be upfront; I will occasionally get briefs from clients who state, clearly, ‘must be an extrovert’. When I challenge these clients on why that point exists, I’ll often hear the same reasons recycled over and over.
“The current person we have in a role is just too shy. They don’t talk to anyone. People find them hard to talk to.”
That’s not an introvert. That’s probably just someone who doesn’t communicate all too well. The reality is, unless I’m going to force people to do a Meyers Brigg Personality Profiling or sit there and really overly analyse what comes out of their mouth, chances are you’re not going to be able to tell the difference between an introvert and an extovert if they were sitting in front of you.
In fact, it becomes increasingly obvious that people fail to understand what they mean when they use these terms.
Put simply, introvert and extrovert refer to where we get our energy from. An introvert is someone who has their energy depleted by being around people constantly and need to have a little alone time in order to recharge. An extrovert, on the other hand, will often find that they get recharged from being around people.
It doesn’t mean that an introvert can’t be the life of a party because they most certainly can. I can assure you my partner gets very worried if we’re out and I get ‘that look in my eye’, as it has been described. I’ve been told from that point, you can never be entirely sure just what I might do.
It doesn’t mean that they’re terrible networkers. In fact, throughout my own career, the majority of jobs I’ve done have involved networking and being around large groups of people, whether it be retail, music industry or, over the past decade plus, recruitment.
All it means is that at the end of the day when I’m exhausted, I need to get home, rest up and have some alone time so that I can be sure I will be refreshed in the morning.
It has actually be shown that introverts are better at asking considered questions at networking events and tend to delve into conversations of substance, hating superficial small talk. In fact, both inc.com and Fast Company have both written articles talking about how introverts make BETTER networkers!
And then there is the third category that now exists – ambiverts! What are we going to do with those?
When it comes to job briefs, if we’re going to talk about personality and ‘cultural fit’, it may be more important to state that you’re after someone who is articulate, professional, approachable, personable. Ask for someone who has the ability to build rapport and develop relationships with the people that matter in their job. I can assure you that, with the right resources, people skills and better communication can most definitely be taught. For those interested, a fantastic book called ‘People Skills’ by Robert Bolton is a great place to start where it will highlight how to listen to others, how to become more assertive and how to resolve conflicts; skills that are definitely going to be a massive advantage in anyone’s professional career. The fact is this; you’re going to be dealing with a broad range of personalities over your career and, within that, you’re going to love some of them and, well, not love some of them. Having those strong communication skills is going to be a fantastic asset, especially when you find you’re dealing with people who are stressed or your own stress levels are interrupting your performance.
So, how about we stop the ‘introvert bashing’, yes? When you break it down, both introverts and extroverts have something to offer however it shouldn’t be used to define what kind of person they are at work, just how they might prefer to be when they’re at home. Let’s focus instead on increasing our ability to communicate and to build better rapport.
If you have any thoughts, questions or simply would like to get in touch with me and offer up a topic for the next Ask Lawrence, you can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or you can find me and connect with me on LinkedIn. You can check out more jobs by going to our website or you can search for them on Twitter via #CRJOBS.