Both introverts and extroverts offer something different at work that the other can’t always provide. Extroverts tend to be able to speak fluidly out loud and can form relationships as leaders; introverts can thrive as independent thinkers and make calculated risks on careful routine.
Both types of workers are needed. With only one, life (and work) would be boring.
Any workplace is bound to have both types of workers with these personality traits, but identifying them isn’t as easy as it seems — unless you pay attention to the language being used around the office.
A new study headed by a team of psychologists in Singapore found that extroverts use a different type of language compared to their counterparts, where they are more likely to be attracted to and to use words describing their personality like positive emotion or social process words.
Researchers at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore were interested in seeing whether those two categories of words — positive emotion and social process words — were actually a sign of extroverts, which it has been linked to in the past.
“This is the first time a relationship has been established between extroverts and their tendency to use the two categories of words,” said Lin Qiu from NTU Singapore in press release. “As it is a small correlation, we believe that stronger linguistic indicators are needed to improve machine learning approaches, amid rising interest in such tools in consumer marketing.”
Psychologists pegged positive emotion words as descriptors used to describe a “pleasant emotional state”, such as love, happy, or blessed. These words are used to exhibit positivity or optimism. Social process words are personal pronouns that exclude “I”, but focus on social interactions like meetings, sharing, or talking, all situations commonly used in workplace interactions.
In the study, which is published in the Journal of Research in Personality, researchers said that extroverts tend to use certain words from these categories.
“Our study found that positive emotion words and social process words are linguistic markers of extraversion. However, the two linguistic correlates of extraversion are small in magnitude,” researchers said in the study, which reviewed 37 separate studies on the topic. “In addition, the strength of the relationship between extraversion and positive emotion words varies across communication contexts, while the relationship between extraversion and social process words remain consistent across contexts.”
While the study focused on how this type of language is used in advertising and marketing by retailers, it’s interesting to think whether using positive emotion or social process words in a professional setting could attract different reactions from employees, especially extroverts.
For managers trying to manage both introverts and extroverts, Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy, the co-authors of the book, “No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work,” listed a few tips on how get the most out of both sets of workers. Things like prepping meetings ahead of time can help introverts because it allows them to prepare, while encouraging extroverts to engage with introverts can help the latter break out of their shells and encourage collaboration.