Depending on the nature of your workplace, chances are that half your team (give or take) is likely to be extroverted. Probably less than half if you are running a library and more than half if you are running a sales team. Either way, knowing how to communicate effectively with extroverts is a skill worth having, especially if you are more introverted yourself. That’s not to say that extroverts have special needs as such but if you want to bring out their best, communicating effectively is key.
We talked about our top ten tips for communicating with extroverts* on our podcast but here they are in word form in case that’s your preference...
1 - Address conflict and confront issues as they arise
This tip actually holds for introverts as well but because extroverts are more action oriented it’s important to nip issues in the bud before they escalate.
2 - Focus on topics that you know well or have had a chance to consider
Extroverts like to establish rapport and build on ideas. If the topic of discussion is something you are familiar with you’ll communicate with a degree of confidence, enthusiasm and energy. This is like fuel for extroverts and they will match it with their own.
And if you are flat and uncertain, they will match that also. This doesn’t mean you have to be an expert on the subject or know it back to front. It just means you enter the conversation from a considered position.
3 - Create opportunities to network or connect
Apart from connecting with new people themselves, extroverts like nothing more than helping others connect. If your communication provides opportunities for them to do that they will engage enthusiastically. Ask them if they can introduce you to a person of interest or know someone who can help you. If they don’t know someone directly, they’ll enjoy finding them for you.
4 - Be an active listener and show a readiness to respond
This doesn’t mean that you mentally prepare a response while they are speaking as that would actually reduce your listening abilities. What it does mean is that you lean in, nod your head, maintain eye contact and use cues to let them know you are ready to contribute to the discussion. This will let them know that you are actively engaged, which is important for an extrovert, and give them a prompt to perhaps pause (which extroverts sometimes need :-).
5 - Express overt enthusiasm
This is almost an extension of tip #4 above except the distinction is about showing interest rather than just engagement. Introverts can be having a party in their head and no-one would know so you may need to be more overt with enthusiasm and interest than you might otherwise be.
6 - Give immediate responses and provide verbal acknowledgement.
While introverts welcome a pause in a conversation extroverts might mistake a pause as a dead end. Consider filling pauses with a courtesy comment such as ‘I hear you’ or ‘I understand what you’re saying.’ It doesn’t have to commit you to anything but it lets them know that the conversation is still happening.
7 - Make concessions for ‘thinking out loud.’
Extroverts often think verbally so what they say frequently isn’t their final position on a subject, it’s just them processing the information to help them come to a conclusion. This may play out as repetition or even taking routes that have dead ends but they usually end up with a conclusion at some point.
Cut them some slack on this. If opportunities arise, show them where their arguments are conflicting but without seeking to ‘trap them’ as such. Do it to lead them to their natural conclusion.
8 - Take the lead on introductions or conversations
Don’t wait for the extroverts to take the lead on initiating a discussion. They respond enthusiastically to outreach and will be appreciative of the initiative.
9 - Be ready to follow up and be forthcoming with information
In addition to the immediate feedback mentioned in tip #6, extroverts also appreciate follow up activity. The natural preference for an introvert may be to wait until something is ‘complete’ or ‘ready’ before providing feedback but the extrovert will get peace of mind just knowing that things are progressing. Let them know you are working on that report, preparing that material, doing that research, etc.
10 - Buy some time if you need it to prepare a response
We’ve already established that extroverts prefer immediate feedback but sometimes you may not be ready to give that feedback. Let them know that you’ll need some time to get back to them and how long that might be (a minute, an hour, a day…) then keep to that commitment.
Time for action
It’s over to you now. We invite you to choose your preferred order and make an effort to implement one new tip from the above each day. Build some ‘extroverted muscle’ and see if you can create a habit so they come to you naturally (if they don’t already).
If you’re an extrovert yourself, please share the post with your introverted friends so they can understand your preferences better (if they don’t already).
*These tips are adapted from “Introduction to Type and Communication” by Donne Dunning, published by CPP Inc.
Top 10 Tips for Communicating with Extroverts