Introverts & Extroverts in the Office

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By Rebecca Cranwell

I recently read an article about the negative effects of working in group offices, or bull pens as they are commonly called. The excellently written article, by Jason Feifer from, lists the “grievances” of a man who is forced to work in a communal office after previously having his own office.

Read Jason’s article to see his hilarious and on-point explanation of why personal office are ideal for productivity. What really grabbed me about his article was his small mention of introverts in the office. It really got me thinking about the melting pot of personalities within an office and how we can be more aware and considerate of our behavior towards co-workers.

You can probably point out the extroverts in your office, as extroverts are fairly easy to spot: they’re usually chatting around the water cooler. Don’t be fooled though, contrary to popular belief, not all introverts are shy wallflowers, and not all extroverts are outgoing social butterflies.

If you’ve ever taken a Meyers-Briggs personality test, you probably already know that the introversion/extroversion chart consists of a spectrum of behavioral elements. In other words: few people are completely introverted or extroverted; most of our personalities hover somewhere around the middle. For example, I am an introvert, but most of my friends and acquaintances think I am an extrovert because I can, and will, talk to almost anyone if I’m in the mood. You can find out your Meyers-Briggs personality profile here.

The main difference between introverts and extroverts is how they gather their energy.

Introverts are givers.

Introverts create their own energy; we are revitalized and recharged by peaceful time alone: reading books, watching television, meditating, writing and basically any solitary activity. When introverts are in public places or crowds, we are constantly giving away our energy. Giving away our energy can sometimes lead us to go into energy conservation mode (appearing short in conversation or disengaging from conversation), which may cause people to think we’re shy. In fact—we are simply conserving our precious, precious energy. Introverts find small talk superficial and exhausting. Once our energy is depleted, we are done for the night and need rest and alone time to recharge our batteries.

Extroverts are takers.

Extroverts on the other hand, receive their energy from other people and surroundings. Extroverts love to absorb the energy radiating from a good crowd. If you’ve ever been to a rock concert, chances are the extroverts are front and center, jumping around the stage. The introverts will most likely be found sauntering around the back or sides where the traffic isn’t as intense. Extroverts thrive in social situations because they are soaking in their surroundings and other people’s excitement. You have probably figured out that extroverts are masters of small talk; they often feel uncomfortable when silence makes its way into a room. My favorite extrovert friend reminds me of an energizer bunny: she can dance, socialize, and chat up people for hours—provided there is plenty of energy buzzing around the room.

To put it simply: introverts give energy and extroverts take energy. It is important to note that one is not better than the other; they simply are what they are. Just like any other rhythm found in nature, there is a balance amongst our personalities, and neither would be happy without its compliment. Take it from me: every introvert needs an extroverted best friend or partner.

How to care for extroverts.
Image from
Content derived from
How to care for introverts.
Image from
Content derived from Linda Kreger Silverman's "On Introversion"

Apply this knowledge to your co-workers, family, and friends to see your relationships grow in a healthy and positive direction.

Don’t forget that some people can be undercover-introverts/extroverts (i.e. you might think an introvert is actually an extrovert). As a basic rule, if someone tells you they are an introvert/extrovert—trust them.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? What are some behaviors we can improve on to make interactions at the office more productive and enjoyable based on our personality types?

Comments (2)

Donnie Martin

Nicely done, Becca. Understanding communication styles can take us a long way.

Thanks for the reminder.


Nov 10, 2013 09:55 PM
Cole Hartson
I think I've gotten more introverted as I slowly turn into an old man. I used to be an ENFP on the Meyers-Briggs test. Now, I am clearly INFP.
I thought of one thing to add: Don't make a giant deal over introverts' birthdays. A simple, "Oh, yeah, Happy Birthday, by the way." is way more pleasant than a dozen balloons with flashing LEDs and big letters saying "Hizzay Birzzay up in dis Hizzouse, Playah!" or a big cake shared by the department or anything particularly loud and embarrassing.
That's the only introvert advice I could think of.
Nov 12, 2013 04:57 AM