Effective Strategies for Communicating with Extroverts

Effective Strategies for Communicating with Extroverts

If you’re a person with introverted tendencies, working with extroverts can seem taxing and chaotic. But it doesn’t have to be. Once you understand the causes behind extroverted behavior, effective workplace communication with extroverts begins to seem like common sense.

People with extroverted behavior may be inclined to interact with others due to simple biology. Dopamine, a neurological chemical, plays a major role in the reward and pleasure centers of the brain and extroverts have a stronger dopamine response to reward than introverts. When extroverts interact with others, they are more energized and motivated by the possibility of reward.

Recognizing how this heightened dopamine response fuels extroverted personalities is vital to effective inter-office communication. Social interactions are filled with opportunities for reward, and extroverts are determined to make the most of them. Consequently, the more rewarding you make your conversation to an extrovert, the happier they’ll feel. Keeping that in mind, here are a few best-practice communication strategies guaranteed to light up an extrovert’s reward system and build healthy interpersonal communication, both in and outside of the office.

 

STAY POSITIVE

Extroverts typically find social situations to be more inherently interesting than introverts do. One study found that extroverts were more stimulated by pictures of people than introverted participants were, suggesting extroverts place greater significance on social interaction. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that an extrovert would be disappointed when an interaction doesn’t go particularly well. With that in mind, keep conversations with an extrovert positive to foster a strong working relationship. Let it be known that you appreciate your time with them, and they’ll likely look forward to talking with you again.

 

OFFER A RISK OR CHALLENGE

High-stakes, high-reward opportunities tend to go hand-in-hand with extroversion. Unpredictability isn’t necessarily viewed as a bad thing by extroverts, but rather a challenge to overcome.  An experiment involving a gambling task found that extroverts had a stronger neurological response to both surprise and positive results than introverts did. If you’re trying to convince an extrovert to take on a task or join you in an endeavor, frame it as an adventure or a big opportunity. Adding a little bit of a risk-factor is definitely a plus.

 

GIVE THEM TIME TO TALK

Extroverts like to talk. So naturally, when you communicate with an extrovert, it’s best not to cut them off. Give them the time to say what they want to say, and more likely than not, they’ll leave you plenty of time to talk once they’ve completed their thought. If not, don’t hesitate to politely let them know you’d like a chance to speak; extroverts are excited by many different aspects of social interactions, so they’ll be interested in hearing what you have to say, too.

GET TO KNOW THE UNIQUE INDIVIDUAL

The problem with the extrovert-introvert dichotomy is that it treats each group like two different species. In reality, extroversion and introversion exist on a spectrum, and most of us fall somewhere in the middle. When communicating, it’s important not to assume people are extroverted or introverted. Rather, get a sense for each person’s unique preferences and tendencies, and try to gauge how they’re feeling during your interaction. As with any type of interaction, awareness is key.

 

 

Your extroverted co-workers can add energy, creative ideas, and candidness to the workplace. By giving them the space to shine and respecting their needs, and can help your business reach its full potential. Remember, the most well-rounded, innovative workplaces embrace a variety of different people with different communication tendencies.

 

Do you have communication difficulties in YOUR office? Contact me and let’s talk.

We formed; we stormed! Building a productive team with the Tuckman model

Forming, storming, norming, performing; the Tuckman teamwork model

In a perfect world, our work teams would collaborate effortlessly and achieve their objectives without office politics, personality clashes, or disagreements about processes.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in such a world and often have to muddle through team conflicts that may be debilitating to the entire project. But even a team with fundamental disagreements can achieve great things. In fact, those very disagreements can lead to innovation and creativity.

How can team leaders build a cohesive and productive team? By recognizing the typical stages a team encounters and having a plan in place to deal with various obstacles that inhibit productivity.

Psychologist Bruce Tuckman articulated the typical phases of team development in his 1965 article, “Developmental Sequence in Small Groups.” Tuckman found that high-performing teams usually pass through four stages which he named forming, storming, norming, and performing. Let’s take a look at the four stages and how you can help guide your team to success in each one:

 

Forming:

In this stage, the team comes together and begins learning about one another and the team’s objectives. This is generally an amicable stage, although some team members may be anxious about the expectations of the project or working with their fellow teammates. Some teams warm up to each other quicker than others, so this stage can vary greatly in length.

Your role:

Leadership is crucial at this stage. A strong leader can help identify team members’ strengths and assign them to roles that are best-suited to their abilities. As a leader, you can also help others see the value each team member contributes and begin to build an atmosphere of mutual respect.

 

Storming:

Trouble starts brewing! This stage is characterized by interpersonal conflict, dissent, or disagreement about processes or objectives. Certain personality types may clash, causing team members to feel uncomfortable or even threatened. Leadership may also be challenged or questioned. Some teams skip this stage completely, while others may keep returning to this stage as new conflicts arise.

Your role:

Look at the storming phase as an area of opportunity. This is a time when creative solutions are born and team members can explore the merit of different approaches or concepts. Conflict opens up opportunities to  explore potential innovations and tap into others’ perspectives, which can unearth a treasure trove of new ideas.

If your team is truly struggling to move past the storming stage, consider employing the help of a credible assessment test, such as Insights Discovery, to bridge communication gaps and develop an understanding of basic personality differences.

 

Norming:

After the storm, is the norm. Team members acknowledge differences, but start to move beyond them. In this stage, the team begins to act as a tenuously cohesive group. They grow accustomed to each other’s quirks, motives, and ways of thinking. They also begin to refocus on the larger goal and rally around a common objective.

Your role:

This is a great opportunity to step back and observe. If you notice any leftover tensions from the storming phase, now is the time to address them. In this stage, it’s also a good idea to encourage team-building exercises or outings to continue to strengthen team bonds.

 

Performing:

In the fourth stage, the team is focused and intent on achieving common objectives. They have evolved into a cohesive unit—one in which interpersonal differences are acknowledged and worked through. This stage is marked by a high level of competency among team members and they should be able to work autonomously, as well as collaborate effortlessly.

Your role:

The leader nearly melts into the background at this stage. Trust that your team has what it takes to produce excellent results and don’t be afraid to delegate tasks. Focus on helping your team grow and develop their talents, and leave the work to them! Don’t forget to provide positive recognition for tasks well done.

 

 

By appreciating and planning for the four typical team-building stages, you set your team up for success. Use team conflict as creative fuel, rather than a stumbling block and capitalize on the diverse set of talents and ideas your team members offer. From forming to performing, each stage is a valuable part of the team-building process.

 

Need help with the storming phase? As a certified conflict mediator, I can offer you guidance. Please, get in touch.

 

Additional Reading:

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_86.htm

http://infed.org/mobi/bruce-w-tuckman-forming-storming-norming-and-performing-in-groups/

http://www.project-management-skills.com/teamwork-theory.html

 

Three Steps for Mediating a Clashing Team

mediating teams in conflict

As a conflict mediator, I’ve helped others work through a wide variety of interpersonal struggles, both personal and professional. But what if your entire team is having issues? How do you deal with building understanding between many people, as opposed to just two? Help your team resolve (or embrace!) their differences with these 3 steps:

1. Get to the root of the problem

Teams clash for a variety of reasons. Conflict can be caused by personality differences, ethical disagreements, unclear expectations, or even simple miscommunications. According to research discussed in Psych Press,[1] conflicts arise in teams in three different key areas:

  • Relationship conflict (personality differences or differences in values)
  • Task conflict (content and outcomes of the task being performed)
  • Process conflict (logistics of completing the task)

To unearth the cause of conflict, it’s important to talk to each team member to get a full picture of what is going on, according to each person’s unique perspective. Allow yourself sufficient time to meet with individuals one-on-one and ask open-ended questions. This process alone may reveal simple misunderstandings or more problematic fundamental issues. However, if the root of the problem is unclear, you may want to bring in a professional conflict mediator or turn to a team-building assessment test, such as Insights® Discovery (which I’ve discussed in past blog posts).

2. Start a dialogue

Once you’ve identified the key factors that are contributing to your team’s issues, open a safe space for dialogue. An assessment tool, like Insights®, can help get a conversation going, especially if you’re dealing with personality clashes.

It can be useful to have a sit-down meeting involving the entire team, in which the framework of the team is discussed, rather than the project at hand. Use this meeting (and any subsequent meetings) to talk about dividing up group responsibilities, sharing the workload, and working out an approach that is collaborative and respectful of all opinions.

If you uncovered work misalignments during your meetings (for instance, a creative-minded person has been saddled with data-crunching), address those misalignments and brainstorm how to fix them.

If you discovered a miscommunication between two parties, bring that up and talk about where you think the communication went wrong.

Don’t forget to listen. Aim for collaboration when solving your team’s conflict and make sure everyone’s voice is heard.

And if disagreements still exist? Do your best to negotiate with both sides and find some middle ground. Let your team know that healthy conflict is just fine and conflict is just a sign that something needs to change. If everyone agreed all the time or, if everyone had the same personality, there would be little room for innovation or creative problem-solving.

3. Teamwork maintenance

After you’ve opened up a dialogue and worked through differences, be sure to maintain that open line of communication. Check in with teammates from time to time and ask how the project is going. As a CBS News article[2] aptly put it: “It is important to maintain the momentum by agreeing to continue to talk about the issue as much as appropriate, and use the language of your discussion and other agreed [upon] signals to keep things on track.” Be sure to welcome conversation and let your team know that they can approach you with any issues, no matter how small.

Another way to maintain team harmony is to focus on the project goals and create opportunities for your team to get together to strategize how to work toward those goals. When everyone has a common purpose, minor differences tend to diminish in importance.

Don’t forget to honor team differences in approach and capabilities. When your team is feeling pulled between two (or more) different directions, point out how each way is valid before striving to reach a compromise.

 

Is your team clashing? Contact me today to develop a strategy for pulling yourselves out of conflict.

[1] Psych Press (2014). 5 steps to handling clashing team members. http://www.psychpress.com.au/newsletter/files/NWS-JUN2014/Jun2014_5-Steps-to-Handling-Clashing-Team-Members.pdf.* Accessed 9/12/16. *Updated Link: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:lWKoIynBeDAJ:www.psychpress.com.au/newsletter/files/NWS-JUN2014/Jun2014_5-Steps-to-Handling-Clashing-Team-Members.pdf+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

[2] CBS Money Watch (2007). Working around personality clashes. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/working-around-personality-clashes/. Accessed 9/12/16.

Bright, Brief, & Blunt: Working with a “Red Energy” Leader

Two serious women in a business meeting

A typical workplace always has a few people that lead with red energy.

These are the natural leaders, the people who are unafraid to speak their minds, the highly focused individuals who prefer to get straight to the point. Someone who embraces red energy is oftentimes bold, determined, and goal-oriented. Sound like someone in your workplace? Or do these characteristics, perhaps, describe you?

Red energy is a term coined by a self-evaluation program called Insights® Discovery. Insights® is a science-based assessment tool that helps individuals gain self-awareness and facilitates improved team dynamics and communication. I discuss Insights® Discovery in more detail in a past blog post.

According to the Insights® color model, every person is comprised of four different color energies, but we tend to exhibit one or two colors more than the others. In the case of someone who leads with red, that means a no-nonsense approach to both work and life. Oftentimes, “reds” have trouble understanding the point of small talk or don’t think about others’ feelings when making a decision or a making a statement.

Given these tendencies, what is the best way to effectively work with a red energy leader?

First of all, it’s useful to understand the way red energy people think. To them, small talk wastes time and feelings should not interfere with decision-making. They like honest, straight-forward communication, quick decisions, and action. Although these traits can help make someone an excellent leader, they can also make that person come across as cold, brusque, or hasty.

As a “non-red,” be aware that those who lead with red energy are not typically trying to be bullies. They are driven and vocal, which can be intimidating, but they typically care about what’s best for the company and which path will lead to success (in the quickest, most direct way possible!).  When you know you’re about to meet with a leader who favors red energy, come prepared with bullet points and concise explanations. If, for instance, you’re outlining a new project strategy, keep your explanation brief and bright. Don’t add too many analytical details that will bog down your presentation and make sure you relay your information with confidence.

In a team meeting, attempt to be a bridge-maker. If your red energy leader is rubbing people the wrong way with her bluntness, attempt to mediate the situation. You might say something like, “What I think Mary Leader means to say is X, Y, and Z. Is that correct, Mary?” A simple empathetic statement can help turn a tense meeting into an open dialogue.

On the flip side, if you are a red energy leader, be mindful of your tendencies. Think about how you might channel your natural inclinations in a positive manner when it comes to leadership and decision-making. For instance, it’s great to be assertive, but not aggressive; bold, but mindful of others’ opinions; action-oriented, but not hasty.

Keep in mind that others may not operate or think the same way as you do. What you view as efficient, others might view as cold or uncaring. Instead of focusing solely on results and productivity, shift your lens to the people around you. Ask them questions, attempt to understand their perspective, and begin to get to know them. Spare a few minutes at the start of every meeting for some small talk and get-to-know-you time. Such acts of compassion are anything but time-wasters. These are the tiny gestures that lead to higher overall employee satisfaction and retention. It’s much better to hang on to the employees you have then to constantly recruit, hire, and train new ones.

Those who favor red energy can be excellent leaders. With a little conscious effort to slow down, practice empathy, and engage in an open discussion, red energy leaders can be both well-loved and effective.

 

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