Why Extraverts Say What they Think


Two news items caught my attention this week. One was Chicago White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen’s new Twitter account and the other was Tony Kornheiser's snide cracks about ESPN anchor Hannah Storm's clothes. Both stories had something in common – both men speak before they think. They are both Extraverts.


beginning a Twitter account and the other was sports personality
About half of the population are Introverts and the other half are Extraverts. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) temperament instrument gives us a picture of important aspects of life. The Introvert/Extravert scale tells us how people are energized. While Extraverts are “other centered”, Introverts are “self-centered”. This doesn’t mean that Introverts are selfish, they are just more self-contained and self-reliant. Introverts tune their radar to an internal frequency, while Extraverts naturally (unconsciously) ask themselves: “How do I relate to other people and things?”

Additionally, Extraverts think out loud (like Guillen and Kornheiser). In fact, Extraverts often need to talk in order to think. Introverts, however, think inside their heads. They let thought simmer before speaking. Then, when the idea is “ready” they share it with others. Extraverts prefer to finish their ideas out in the world.

What does this mean to leaders?

First, it means that you need to evaluate your people and know their preference. This can save you a lot of time and angst when either you see a quiet response or something that seems half-baked. You can run better meetings as you’ll wait for the introverts and know the Extraverts will need to throw their ideas out to the team.

Second, you won’t put undue expectations on people. If you are an Extravert, for example, don’t expect Introverts to respond quickly. They need time to think – it may be only a second, but they do need some time. So, plan ahead. Know that Introverts need time to think and Extraverts will just start talking so they can uncover their thinking. Go with that flow to insure quality decisions.

Your team is made up of individuals who are both Introverted and Extraverted. Knowing how they think and what they need is important to bring out the best in every person and the best for the team.


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