How to Motivate Introverted Employees

Do you have an employee who gave the first impression that they are a very thoughtful, creative, and smart person?  Even though this person can produce high-quality work from time to time, they seem a bit distant and uncommunicative or even arrogant…

The chances are your new employee is an introvert!  You wish there was a way to motivate them and make that employee more productive and communicative.  The solution is first to understand how and why they are different, to realize that their minds are made-up differently from the mind of an extrovert.  

Introversion versus extroversion:

The basic definition of introversion versus extroversion is that extroverts are more comfortable with and prefer to direct their mental energy toward the outside world, other people, or objects.  In contrast, introverts tend to prefer living in the world of their minds and their thoughts.  When introverts are forced into a team or a very crowded environment for too long, the situation will deplete their energy, and they will become very drained. 

Introverts gain energy from the comfort of their inner thoughts and feelings

Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung (1875 – 1961) was the first to distinguish extroversion and introversion, the two major orientations of personality.  We continue to learn from Jung’s findings and ongoing psychoanalytical research leads to greater understanding of personality types to help managers in the workplace.

Cognitive sciences have discovered two main ways that introverted minds are different:

1.    Introverts process incoming information more slowly because they filter information thoroughly before considering the input. Their neural pathway to process information is longer than that of extroverts.  This is because they use the parasympathetic side of the brain, and the pathways are much longer, meaning they need more time for the information to be processed.  Hence introverts can easily become over-stimulated with too much external information from the environment. 

Scientists can detect the differences between introvert and extrovert babies as early as four months old. Extroverts easily take stimulation because the two parts of the brain they use have a much smaller pathway than introverts. This neurological difference explains why extroverts tend to be active and action-oriented, actively seeking out stimulating experiences. While, in contrast, introverts tend to be more idiosyncratic in their preference for a slower and manageable pace.

Scientists can detect introverted babies as early as 4-month old!

2. The second difference is that because the part of the brain used to process information and the part of the brain connected to communication and processing verbal input are quite separated in introverts.  Hence, they can go on for long periods of time without talking or communicating with other people.   Conversely, an extrovert will get the juices flowing, think, and speak at the same time.  They will enjoy brainstorming with other people, thinking and talking simultaneously.  

So, when you know these differences, you can begin to understand why there are behavioral differences between introvert and extrovert team members.  You see, it’s not that your introverted employee is having an attitude or trying to be distant on purpose; it’s just how their brain works.

How to spot an introverted employee

They tend to be

  1. Calm: He or she exudes a calming presence.
  2. Listeners: They tend to listen more than they talk.  This is especially noticeable in a team meeting when they appear more reflective.
  3. Having subdued Dress Style: Introverts tend to dress subtly.  Their clothing is usually understated, preferring dark colors.  They don’t want to stand out too much.  Compare this with extroverted employees who dress in more vibrant, outstanding colors and styles.

In fact, a lot of people think that introverts are a minority in the population.  However, many surveys have shown that introverts and extroverts are actually about 50/50 in a population.

The reason they seem to be the minority is that they don’t compete with the extroverts for attention.  They don’t speak up that much, preferring to think through the information before voicing an opinion.  They’re the silent half of the population! Another possible explanation is that many introverts would put on an “extrovert mask” on social settings to blend in better (even if it’s pretty draining), giving the impression that there are ways more extroverts to the untrained eyes.

Introverts bring unique strengths to the team

Now you know the differences between introverts and extroverts, you can appreciate the unique strengths of the introverted employee:

  • Because they spend more time reflecting and coming up with something that is truly unique, you can expect their work to be more creative and original.
  • You can also expect them to be thorough and meticulous because they think things through and process a lot of information inside their head before they talk about and show the result.   
  • Lastly, introverts have high moral principles.  Most of the time, introverts value their integrity and authenticity very highly.  It’s a useful attribute to balance the team in the workplace, especially against the fast-paced and cut-throat cultures of many workplaces nowadays.

How to motivate the introverted employee

So, how do you as a manager nurture and encourage better productivity and motivation from an introverted employee?  There are four ways you can do it:

1. When you assign them some work or a task, give them a lot of upfront information so they can process it, but then give them space.  There is this golden rule of two to forty-eight hours, depending on the complexity of the task, that works very well with introverts.  Give your introverted employee the time to think through all the input and process the information. In return, they will give you very thorough and very considered work results. 

2.  The second way you can help them is to complement their weaknesses.  Since they are a more reflective and somewhat individualistic employee, you can support them with your own strengths or that of another team member:

For example, you can provide them with social connections to others in the team.  Because it’s usual that introverts find it challenging to initiate social contact themselves, you can quickly introduce them to other team members.  By introducing them to other stakeholders that are relevant o the project, you help them to be able to touch base and integrate into the team.

You can assist an introverted employee by introducing him or her to other stakeholders/coworkers

3. You can assist them by giving clear deadlines and KPI expectations.  Because introverts are so reflective and usually perfectionistic, they are not good with deadlines.  So, you need to be clear regarding when you need the result.   When you have clear KPIs, they are certain of your expectations, and you can best optimize their thought process and creativity.

4.   Lastly, keep your introverted employee motivated.  Once they have finished their work, it’s important to praise the work, but moderately, because they can easily detect unnecessary and superfluous compliments.   So give them the praise that they deserve for their originality and creativity.  Praise them for their hard work and their meticulousness.  This valid, genuine praise will be a sure way to make sure you keep your introverted employee happy and motivated.

Conclusion

When you are aware of introverted characteristics you are better able to manage introverted team members.  Doing so is a case of considering how the different personality types function.  Introverted employees are motivated by receiving information in advance of meetings, enabling them to think about the content prior to the meeting.  Introverts will also think about ideas and get back to you later with their contributions.  A manager who considers personality types of the whole team are rewarded with wider contributions and a happier team.  

References:

https://www.lifehack.org/412467/why-introverts-are-introverts-because-their-brains-are-different

https://www.insperity.com/blog/managing-introverts/

Is Your Relationship Meant to Last?

Relationship is a complex topic that has been much written about. We all yearn for the right recipe to find “the one”, our soulmates, our missing halves. Yet how many of us feel confident that we find satisfying answers from internet articles? Again, this article may still not be “the one” for you, haha. But I will try my best to source and consolidate the best knowledge online.

First, let’s get some clarity on the feelings we are seeking. The English vocabulary gives us a wide confusing range of terminologies: true love, soulmates, chemistry, compatibility, crush, infatuation, limerence etc. 

man wearing black and white stripe shirt looking at white printer papers on the wall
Love, crush, infatuation, limerence? The list goes on

Let’s not get too technical, but focus on the 2 main things: the short-term romantic delusion and that elusive one true feeling. As a somewhat logical person, I cringe at the latter. But for the sake of truth-seeking, let’s delve in to see what the experts have to say. For the sake of simplicity, we called short-term feelings as Crush and long-term ones as Love.

Crush versus Love

Short-term feelings such as crush or infatuation are often characterized by having butterflies in the stomach, occurring early in the relationship when two people are not yet familiar with each other and fueled mostly by sexual drives and hormones. In general, it has all the emotional up-and-down of a typical teenage fantasy.

Meanwhile, Love relies more on compatibility than chemistry. It is characterized by trust, comfort and having common values. It is about “still water runs deep”, happening over a long period of time. Having compatibility often means having much similarity, which may seem boring at first. 

Chemistry versus Compatibility

Chemistry refers to the sparks between two people. It is about energy and excitement. Chemistry can come from compatible sense of humor, physical attraction and even situations. We all know that famous tip of taking your crush to ride roller coaster because apparently the rising heartbeats may be mis-attributed to attraction towards you.

Overall, chemistry is caused by differences, which can make someone appear mysterious and awe-inspiring. A well-educated woman from a conservative upper-class family may feel very attracted to a brute yet athletic plumber for example. An introverted and anxious person may be mesmerized by someone with a more outgoing and confident personality.

sexy plumber driver
It’s hard not to fantasize about that mysterious plumber

If you want to explore further, there is Sternberg’s triangular theory of love which proposes 3 main components of love: intimacy, passion, and commitment. Having all 3 results in true love, while a combination of any two gives rise to other kinds of relationships. 

Triangular_Theory_of_Love

Passion combined with intimacy but no commitment results in romantic love. Intimacy and commitment with no passion, like the case of most long-term marriage, is companionate love. Lastly, having passion and commitment but no intimacy is fatuous.

Signs of long-lasting relationships

Compatibility is actually the cornerstone of stable relationships. Most couples may start out with more passion, which is eventually replaced by intimacy and compatibility in various value and lifestyle factors. A couple also adapt and become more alike, as research has shown. But ultimately, having similar religious, political or philosophical backgrounds are important compatibility factors which are harder to change.

Psychologist John Gottman studied thousands of couples for four decades to determine what separates long-term couples from short-term ones. An important discovery is that the more physiologically aroused a couple (heart rates, sweating…) the more likely they will break up.

On a day-to-day basis, Dr. Gottman took note of the reciprocal responses between partners. These responses, or “biddings” are crucial for the couples to maintain their long-term intimacy. If a partner does a bidding related to his interest, like talking about his soccer game, the other partner has the choice of displaying interests or turning away. The more supportive and attentive the interactions are, the more likely the relationship will last.

memes unmet bid reciprocals.png
Lack of positive reciprocation is a bad sign for relationships

Read more : Master of Love

Dr. Gottman’s finding, to a certain degree, confirms the importance of compatibility in relationships. Couples who come together because of passion with little similarity in values may lie to themselves and over-exaggerate their compatibility. But their heart rates don’t lie. Unconsciously, they are in the fight-or-flight mode because  they are too different at the core.

I guess the main takeaway is that it is prudent to take a step back and ask yourself, if you truly feel comfortable around your partner. Putting aside desirable but superficial factors such as look, income or status, deep down below, do you respect who they are and what they value? Do you truly believe in the same things in life as them? A few decades down the road, when they become wrinkled all over, do you still want to hold their hand and listen to their stories?

old couple walking while holding hands

Quick Facts about MBTI Types: Distribution, Career and Relationship

Type Distribution In The Population

The table below shows the percentage of each type in the general population. Clearly, INFJ (The Advocate) is the rarest of all types followed by ENTJ (The Commander) and INTJ (The Mastermind). But apparently, INFJ is one of the most trending MBTI searches on Google, which means either there are more INFJ interested in reading up on MBTI or many people mistype themselves as one because ahem, we just love to feel special.

Data source: data is compiled from a variety of MBTI® results from 1972 through 2002, including data banks at the Center for Applications of Psychological Type; The Myers-Briggs Company; and Stanford Research Institute (SRI).

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Percentage of each MBTI Types in general population,

Digging a little further, we see an almost 50/50 split between Introvert and Extrovert (Sorry to disappoint the introverts out there, you are actually the majority). Sensors are the majority at about 75%. Perceivers and judgers are also close to 50/50 while thinkers are slightly the minority at 40% 

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The stereotype that women are more feeling-dominant while men are more logical does have statistical validity. Among females, ⅔ of them are feelers. For male, the difference is less pronounced with about 44% of guys are feelers. I suspect the actual figure is closer to 50/50 for males because men are traditionally conditioned to hide their feelings.

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Income And Job Satisfaction

Believe it or not, there are markerly predictable patterns in earning by personality types. The infographic below is a recent comprehensive survey done by Truity Psychometrics LLC on over 4,300 volunteers. The ENTJ (Commander) and ESTJ (Executive) top the chart in yearly income. This is not surprising because they are typically pictured as CEOs and managers, and indeed over-represented in managerial positions according to this survey. 

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Some other useful observations include introverts in general earn less than extroverts, feelers earn less than thinkers and judgers earn more than perceivers. An interesting question for types at the short end of the stick, like ISFP, INTP or INFP, is whether you choose to be satisfied with having less of the material success or rather challenge the income stereotypes.

In terms of job satisfaction, the graph below shows an interesting dynamic. Extroverted feelers are the happiest at work even though thinkers are the highest earners. It can be explained by the tendency of feelers to pick jobs that makes them feel good and allow them to make positive social impacts such as in teaching, counseling or volunteering. Thinkers are more driven by income potential and professional prestige at the expense of their true calling. Both thinkers and feelers can learn from each other in this aspect.

pasted image 0 (4)Introverts, especially perceiving ones, are the most unhappy at work. I hypothesize that the typical workplace which often emphasizes teamwork and corporate politics are not suitable for the introverted tastes.

Relationship Compatibility

In terms of compatibility, different sources differ on the ideal match for each type. A popular school of thought is that the best couple are similar at the core, but complementary (opposite) in their orientation towards the world. This often translates into a relationship where one or two letters in the middle are common and the E-I and P-J are reversed. For example, an INFP is most suitable with ENFJ or ENTJ, while an ISFJ is most compatible with ESFP or ESTP.

Socionic, which derives from Carl Jung’s work and MBTI to assess intertype relationships, proposes an even more singular yet controversial recommendation. It categorizes and ranks the various relationships between types, proposing that relation of duality is the most optimal and closest to the so-called soulmates. Duality refers to two types of exact opposite in MBTI, such as INFP and ESTJ or ISTP and ENFJ.

An old survey by Tieger and Barron-Tieger (2000) offers a very interesting and comprehensive relationship satisfaction statistic. You may have been familiar with the 4 main temperaments in MBTI based on the 2 common letters and similar characteristics of each group: Analyst (NT), Idealist (NF), Sentinel (SJ) and Explorer (SP).

As can be seen in the below table which ranks the pairings in decreasing order of happiness, SJ are most happy with SJ, followed by NF paired with NF. The idealists paired with sensing groups, SP and SJ, produce the most dissatisfactory combinations. Analyst and Idealist pairings are also pretty suitable at 65% and 64%. Another pattern which can be deduced is that sensors and intuitives often do not make happiest matches, which can be attributed to the famous intuitive-sensing divide – the hardest divide to overcome according to many sources.

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Ultimately, there has been rather scant research on relationship compatibility using MBTI framework. There are also many other significant factors which influence relationship satisfaction. Several MBTI authors have claimed that any two well-developed individuals regardless of type can form a successful relationship. But the above serves only as a guide for each of us to form our best  judgement when choosing friends and romantic partners.
References:

Click to access PersonalityType-CareerAchievementStudy.pdf

http://oddlydevelopedtypes.com/content/infps-love