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« 10. Only giving half the story: The Introvert's dilemma »

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute. MBTI coach with over 25 years MBTI experience, and author of the new book: "INFJ: What's it like to be one."

Introverts are approximately 50% of the population and are well worth understanding. If you're an Introvert I'm sure you will agree and if you're not an Introvert you are likely to be working or living with one.

They're a lovely group of people who typically like to think things through, reflect on life and have peace and quiet, rather than talking a lot or being the life and soul of the party, meeting or workplace. So here is some information that could help you get on with them, or understand yourself better if you are one.

1. Do Introverts speak enough?

How much Introverts talk differs, of course, especially as in the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), there are 8 types of Introverts.

How much talking is enough talking depends on your personality type and upbringing.

If you're an Introvert, for example, you might think that talk is cheap. If you're an Extravert though, you are more likely to perceive Introverts as being too withdrawn or secretive. As far as the Extraverts are concerned Introverts usually don't talk enough. Even some Introverts need other Introverts to talk more. Worse still, some Introverts get confused over how much they do speak!

One of my dear friends and neighbours was telling me that, as an Introvert, she has conversations in her head. These are so convincing that she then thinks she's told people things when she hasn't. Her husband, an Extravert, has been known to complain because he's been kept in the dark. Typically she argues back that she's told him something, only then to realise maybe she hadn't!

Different types have different aspects of emotional intelligence they find harder and easier. However, developing their emotional intelligence is vitality important for each type. Come join with me in this exciting new emotional intelligence coaching package and I will make sure it is personalised to you and your type.

2. What happens when the Introverts don't say enough?

Misunderstandings can occur when Introverts say little.

What can happen with some Introverts is that they think everything through in their heads without explaining their processes to other people. Then when they convey opinions, decisions or instructions they may only explain the end of their thinking. This can result in confusion for the listeners. Or it can produce resentments.

For example, I worked with an introverted manager once who, on thinking things through, came to a well thought out decision. However he did not explain how he came to his decision to his staff and would simply expect his staff to act on his decision. The staff resented it. His decisions didn't make sense. They seemed to be without reasoning.

Once he started explaining why or how he'd reached his decision, compliance amongst his staff increased. Introverts can be misunderstood as people too. They tend not to say much about themselves. Consequently people can jump to the wrong conclusions about them.


3. Why can Introverts appear ambiguous?

Just in case you think I'm unnecessarily bagging Introverts let me reassure you I'm not - I am one! In fact these days our office are all Introverts. Imagine the misunderstandings that can go on between us! It causes much laughter.

One of my staff classically forgets that I can't mind read, for instance. She frequently walks into my office knowing the context of what she's doing or what's happening but then fails to tell me. Instead what I hear is a sentence totally out of context (being a good Introvert the context is in her head!). This is ambiguous and incomprehensible to me.

The other day, for example, she walked in and said, "Do you want to print that page again?" I was sitting at my desk preparing a speech and had no idea what she was talking about. She knew perfectly well of course. What page? What did "that" refer to? And why would I consider printing it again? I had to ask before I could understand.

Well, it turned out that while the printer was printing the 24 pages I'd sent to it some time ago, she had mistakenly thought it had finished and had put an envelope in it. One of my pages had therefore printed on an envelope and was of no use. This would all have made sense immediately had she explained the context first!

Here are five top tips on communication for Introverts and with Introverts.

Emotional intelligence tip 1: Give the context.

If you know what is going on, say so and set the scene. Explain the context of what you are talking about. Don't just give your end process.

  1. Explain what you know.
  2. Say what you've thought.
  3. Give the context.


Emotional intelligence tip 2: Say up to three sentences when responding to people.

Say more! Sometimes Introverts are misunderstood and are thought to be arrogant or secretive. Talking more can help reduce this happening.

  1. When you're in a conversation be generous and say more than 4 or 5 words.
  2. Continue a conversation by saying about three sentences in response. A sentence may go for 20-30 words, by the way, not 4 or 5!

Different types have different aspects of emotional intelligence they find harder and easier. However, developing their emotional intelligence is vitality important for each type. Come join with me in this exciting new emotional intelligence coaching package and I will make sure it is personalised to you and your type.

Emotional intelligence tip 3: Talk about yourself.

It will help ease misunderstandings if you tell people about yourself. You may have been brought up to believe that talking about yourself is bragging. It isn't. Bragging is when you show off about how good you are and tell people you are better then everyone else.

In contrast talking about yourself can simply help people to know you better.

You might talk about your favorite hobbies, your dreams for the future, your goals, what's important to you, your childhood, your perspective on life ... there are lots of ways to help us get to know you.


Emotional intelligence tip 4: Don't assume silence is compliance.

Some Introverts say nothing, e.g. at a meeting. Don't assume this means they agree with you. They may think there is no point in saying anything and be keeping their disagreements to themselves.

If you're at a meeting and you're an Introvert - speak out. Say what's going on in your mind. Let the others know what you're thinking. Your contribution may be very important, don't let them miss out.


Emotional intelligence tip 5: Invite their contributions.

If you are an Extravert at a meeting, invite the Introverts to contribute - don't wait for them to speak over the top of you; they probably won't.


EQ at work, INFJ: Get to know your type, increase communication effectiveness and lower conflict

There is so much that you or your team can learn so that you develop greater understanding of, and skills with, your communication, personality and relationships at work and home. The EI Institute has a number of options to help you:

  1. As an Introvert you may enjoy reading this book about INFJs, as much of it also applies to other introverts. Also, there is a contribution by an INTJ, an INFP and an ISTJ, so other Introverts are represented: "INFJ: What's it like to be one."
  2. If you are in Western Australia, a high energy, MBTI interactive team-building workshop can be organised for you: "Getting on: MBTI Team building".
  3. Meditation appeals to many introverts and we have a very popular audio-download on meditation called: "Happy Not Hassled". A perfect way to introvert and stay healthy.
  4. There is superior 1-1 coaching; and the MBTI is included as part of our smart leadership coaching package. You can find out your MBTI type and develop the skills you need, with Rachel Green.

For more details or to make a booking e-mail us now or pick up the phone and call us.