Introverts vs extroverts: how to engage both types of personalities in a coworking space
The common mistake we all make is assuming we all feel, respond, interact, function and recharge the same way. “Don’t just assume, it makes an ass out of you and me” we have been told countless times yet it is so natural to assume when it comes to interacting because we have nothing else to go on but our own experiences.
I feel very put out when people push others to respond in a certain way. We’re all different right? Well, that’s what we have been told but the intolerance and pushy nature of some people makes me wonder, do we really believe it?
I’m a Community Manager at Inspire9. My job is people. What I find so interesting about a coworking space is generally, the people that use the space are more often introverted. They are quiet, reflective and more likely than not, inwards. What a coworking space requires to be a thriving and energetic environment is people chatting and connecting, bonding over tech, pets and plants. This is hard when most people have their heads down. Even if people want to chat, the sheer horror of striking up a conversation with a stranger is debilitating for most.
When I started writing this I realised the perception of extroverts and introverts has become somewhat confused. Introverts aren’t “shy” and extroverts aren’t ‘loud’. I found an article by Beth Belle Cooper, a content crafter at Buffer, which laid this out nicely; it is all about where we get our energy from, not how loud or quiet we are.
Introverts recharge alone and tend to lose energy in big groups. Extroverts recharge in big groups and tend to lose energy when they are alone. This is important to know when engaging with both types. While large networking events, pot luck lunches etc, are great for business growth and getting to know others, this can be overwhelming and not effective for introverts. So how do we accommodate both personalities without overwhelming some and stifling others?
Well firstly, the most simple thing to do is listen and observe. People are easy to read if you are patient and watch their behaviours. What comes next is how to care for these types of personalities. Introverts will appreciate their privacy. NEVER embarrass them in public; remember what may come easy to some will be water torture for others so don’t push. Give them the chance to connect with one other person, this will fill their desire for social contact but not overwhelm them. Don’t assume that they need what you need, that they want what you want. Let them be.
Extroverts will appreciate if you let them shine. Appreciate their difference, encourage their enthusiasm, compliment them. Allow them to explore and dive right in. Obviously most of us will sit in the middle of this spectrum and most of us will swing both ways on the regular.
As a Community Manager, I see myself as the default person for an introvert to connect with in the space. I am here to respect their space, but be all ears if they want to chat. I will be their ‘safety net’ in big social groups; a beacon of light to come to when they feel overwhelmed. With extroverts, I will encourage their ideas, encourage their energy and always let them shine in social scenarios.
The fact of the matter is, everyone will feel uncomfortable 100 times a day, no matter where on the spectrum you sit, but as a Community Manager you can do your best to soften this blow. The only foolproof way to engage any type of personality in a community is to listen, observe and never assume.