Tag Archives: live conversation

A Multiplier of Misunderstandings for Introverts and Extroverts

When was the last time you came back to your office and listened to 100 voicemails?  More likely you responded to the many emails in your inbox.

I reached my saturation point a few weeks ago after I realized that I had not one live conversation all day.  That is an energy drain for an extrovert.  The real tipping point came during a back and forth email dialogue with an introverted work colleague.

As our email tennis match proceeded, I could see the misunderstandings multiply.  I wrote him an email to ask for a five-minute phone call to clear up the issue.  He wrote back, asking me if we could “settle it on email”.  “No way,” I thought.  “It would take more time to write each other again than  to talk.”

With some apprehension, I decided to pick up the phone and dial his number.  We had a brief conversation in which he explained his position and we discussed several viable options.  The matter was resolved in less than four minutes.

I know that, as an introvert, he prefers to communicate via email.  As an extrovert, I agree — most of our communication can be handled that way.  I also believe that a personality preference is not a prescription for every situation.  There are times when we need to be able to ask each other questions, dig a little deeper, and listen to a person’s voice tone to better understand their point of view.  We also need to clearly express what we mean.

To what degree should the situation drive the communication mode?  How much do you moderate your preferred style to accommodate others?