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Why product managers need to understand introverts and extroverts
If you work with other people, and I think that is just about all of us, you are going to love this episode. People are either extroverts or introverts. For everyone leading a team or working in a team, you can improve the team performance by improving how introverts and extroverts interact.
To help us improve team performance, I went to the person who has spent her professional life researching, writing about, and speaking on introverts. That is Dr. Jennifer Kahnweiler.
She helps organizations harness the power of introverts. Her recent book is Creating Introvert-Friendly Workplaces: How to Unleash Everyone’s Talent and Performance.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[6:30] What are the definitions of introverts and extroverts?
The identifying factor is where they get their energy. After being with people all day, introverts need to recharge during quiet time. Extroverts get charged up by being with people.
There is some misunderstanding about introverts. Many introverts are labeled as shy, which is seen as a problem. Shyness has to do with anxiety, and it can be overcome. Introversion is a natural way people are wired.
[9:49] How can we identify introverts and extroverts by their characteristics?
Introverts tend to be calm, take time to think, embrace silence, and be humble. Extroverts can get people to talk and like to be in a large room where they’re having multiple conversations. Usually, someone can determine whether they’re an extrovert or introvert by their characteristics. There are also ambiverts, people who identify with both extroverts and introverts.
There’s a myth that introverts aren’t in people-facing roles. That’s absolutely not true. A study a few years ago showed that introverts make the best leaders for extroverts because they’re very good listeners.
[14:20] How can introverts better relate to the people around them?
Introverts will do well to prepare for their interactions with others and to connect one-on-one. Consider some questions you would like to ask and schedule a meeting or phone call with someone for an intentional reason, such as hoping to learn from them or serving as a mentor. Having deep relationships is an introvert’s strength, and they like to get into deep conversations, but it’s also important to learn to use small talk to build relationships and then move to substance.
[19:53] How can extroverts better relate to introverts?
An important principle is “Accept the alien.” Realizing that somebody is different from you and you cannot change them takes away stress because instead of spending time trying to change them you’re learning how to work with them. Extroverts need to listen. When introverts pause in a conversation, they may be reflecting and have more to say. Extroverts can tend toward “loudership,” meaning the loudest voice gets to lead. If you do this, you’re excluding others’ ideas that you and your team need to hear. Extroverts can discipline themselves to listen, such as waiting for three people to talk before offering their opinion, or asking someone to email them ideas after a meeting. It’s also helpful to tell people the agenda for a meeting ahead of time so they have time to prepare their thoughts. Another tool is giving everyone a few minutes to write down their ideas before anyone shares.
[24:44] As an introvert, after seeing myself on video at a professional development event, I realized that even though I was engaged, my voice and body language weren’t showing that. I’ve learned to speak louder and use my eye contact and body language to show my engagement. What are your thoughts?
We want to choose behaviors that narrow the perception gap, which is the difference between what we’re intending to show and what people are seeing. Being self-aware is important for all of us. Watching yourself on video can be very helpful. Even if there’s not a real camera, imagining you’re being videoed can cause you to focus on the attitude you’re projecting. Another useful strategy for introverts is to have an advocate in the meeting. When everyone ignores your idea only to accept it when someone else brings it up, your advocate can point out that you just brought it up and ask you to share more.
[30:17] How does remote working affect introverts?
Some pros of remote working for introverts are solitude, the ability to arrange your day to work at your peak, and others’ openness to having deep conversations. The loss of connection is a challenge. We all need to be intentional about having conversations with others. There is a lot of stress in people’s lives right now, so we need to be deliberate about checking in and seeing how people are doing.
Action Guide: Put the information Jennifer shared into action now. Click here to download the Action Guide.
- Check out Jennifer’s website
- Connect with Jennifer on LinkedIn
- View Creating Introvert-Friendly Workplaces on Amazon
“Life is a dance between making it happen and letting it happen, and never forget that no matter how caught up we are in the world, life is shaped from the inside out.” – Arianna Huffington
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.