The 411 on Working with Extroverts, Introverts and Ambiverts

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An introvert, an extrovert and an ambivert walk into a bar.

“What a great atmosphere. Let’s go make some new friends,” the extrovert says, dragging the introvert and the ambivert into the most crowded area of the bar.

“I didn’t feel like coming out to this noise today, I would have preferred to stay in with my close friends and binge-watch our favorite show,” the introvert thought silently.

“Guys, I am excited to be here, but do we have to go talk to those people we don’t know?” the ambivert asked. “Let’s just have fun together.”

If one of these personas resonates with you, then you probably can also guess where some of your coworkers fit in. But do you know the best ways to work with personalities that are different than your own? Are you innocently doing something to distract or put off your team members? Do you have trouble voicing what you need when it comes to your workplace responsibilities?

Let’s break it down.

Extroverts: The majority of the time, extroverts enjoy spending time with others more than kicking it alone. They start discussions, thrive in team environments, prefer talking things out when making big decisions and are easy to get to know. They usually aren’t afraid to start conversations with someone they don’t know (in fact, they often look for opportunities to do this) and they are confident speaking out, even when they don’t hold the same views as the larger group. Extroverts welcome conversation (sometimes even at the expense of getting off-topic,) they initiate plans for gatherings, they speak up for others and they likely butt in the middle of your private talks on a daily basis. There’s probably an extrovert lurking around you right now, just bursting at the seams, waiting to give their input on the latest episode of “American Horror Story” or the new iPhone. The more they socialize, the more energy they generate. Extroverts can have trouble staying motivated in long meetings, might find remote work too lonely and can become disheartened and unfocused in quiet environments and isolated by independent work.

Introverts: Introverts prefer processing things internally, especially at first. They thrive off independent work and can feel drained after noisy discussions and large gatherings. They are often more reserved than their extroverted counterparts and might be mistaken as disinterested or arrogant. Introverts are typically uncomfortable when forced to lead large discussions and don’t tend to seek out opportunities to make conversation with strangers. Introverts find alone time comforting and look forward to the moments with their thoughts. They feel lonelier in crowds than they do on their own, and don’t like to be the center of attention. Introverts can concentrate for long periods of time, but can become annoyed and distracted by loud nearby discussions and too much noise. Networking can be particularly challenging for introverts and their inner monologue can be tough to shut off. Introverts are typically detail-oriented and great listeners. Contrary to what some believe, introverts can have tons of friends and are not antisocial.

Ambiverts: You might have referred to yourself or someone else as an outgoing introvert, or an ingoing extrovert. What you’re probably describing is an ambivert. To break this down more, let’s discuss the differences between being extroverted and being outgoing, as the two are not mutually exclusive.

Outgoing describes those who enjoy striking up an unnecessary conversation with a stranger on the elevator. They make small talk with other customers in grocery lines. They ask people they don’t know questions about the baby in their arms, the dog in the park and the weather. Others view them as friendly and approachable. Outgoing people are comfortable approaching just about anyone who isn’t sharpening a rusty knife or dragging along a dead body. And even then…they might ask questions.

Extroversion is different. It describes those who are excited to attend large events, who aren’t afraid to dance at the party, who volunteer to be leaders in their groups, who offer themselves as hosts of parties, who welcome others to join in on activities, who feel energized at social gatherings and who are generally viewed by others as confident and sometimes as show-offs.

You can be outgoing, and still feel drained after enduring large social events. You can exhibit most of the typical signs of an extrovert, but still be shy or uncomfortable when approaching people that you don’t know, especially in one-on-one situations. This means you are an ambivert. You can be a combination of these things, too. In that case, you’re probably an ambivert.

We talked to some Pipefy Honey Badgers about the quirks of their personalities and how to best maintain excellent relationships with them in the workplace. Here’s what they had to say:

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Tips on Working with Introverts       

“Most people assume introverts are shy or antisocial,” Thaís Macedo, Product Marketer, said. “That’s not true! Since introverts take their energy from themselves, and not from the others, social activities such as parties, meetings or even long conversations may be tiring for us. It’s not that we don’t like the people we are with or that we want to go home, it’s just that it gets a little too much over time. So, if you spot an introvert a bit too nervous, just give them space and time, and soon they will be ready to socialize again.”

Macedo explained that it’s also frustrating when others presume introverts don’t want to be part of meetings or lead presentations just because they’re introverted.

“We look forward to improvement opportunities just like anyone else,” she said.

Macedo said that when coworkers are respectful of her limits, it helps her to feel less overwhelmed.

“Social situations are part of the work routine, but I usually need to recover after socializing a little too hard,” she said. “This can be done by being extra quiet the next day or skipping the happy hour meeting, for instance.”

Macedo admits that she is easily distracted when people are talking around her, so she sometimes listens to music or moves to a quieter area to get back in her zone.

As an introvert, Sales Development Representative Beatriz Calistrate sometimes struggles with making sure that people know she is available for them whenever they need her. She prefers a positive work atmosphere in order to be most productive and finds the energy contagious.

“It makes me feel that I can concentrate, perform well at work and also connect to people,” she explained.

Partners Relationship Manager Samoel Marques prefers quiet and calm environments but doesn’t dislike social encounters.

“I do like interactions, but sometimes I feel anxious or scattered in a crowded environment,” he explained. “When I need to deliver or focus on something, I prefer to go to quiet places, put on some music and meditate.”

He prefers to use Slack for communication at first but doesn’t mind personal touches.

“I like to help others, and I like to feel useful to my coworkers,” Marques said. “Sometimes, [introverts] are just quiet and calm, not too excited or happy, just a regular day in our lives. We like quiet, and we like to be alone. We are not angry or fed up. It’s just that we don’t feel comfortable about being super happy and excited all the time.”

Pipefy Tech Lead Douglas Drumond prefers continuous chunks of time to focus, but being a leader means his job requires more interaction with other team members.

“When I do need to focus, I shift my work hours and start a little bit earlier or finish a little late,” he said. “I don’t loathe social interaction; that’s not a problem; I only need some ‘me’ time to recover. Day-to-day operations are fine: what makes me tired is prolonged social interactions.”

Drumond works remotely, which means he gets the time he needs to rationalize interactions, rather than reacting on the fly.

“Since my job requires less coding and more interaction, I don’t need to block lots of time to write software,” he said. “The good thing about being an introverted manager is that I can use my natural ability to analyze a situation before acting. I’m happy when I can focus on some problem and solve it (either by attacking the problem itself, or better, removing barriers for the team to solve the problem).”

Chaos isn’t his forte, though.

“I dislike when there is something urgent that’s affecting a lot of people, and my Slack doesn’t stop beeping. But the feeling of satisfaction and relief when that is resolved has no comparison,” Drumond said.

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Tips on Working with Extroverts 

As an extrovert, Product Marketer Luiz Eifler sometimes struggles with focusing.

“I usually need to talk to people,” he said. “So it’s hard to sit and focus 100 percent of the time all day long. It’s important having a dynamic routine and interacting with people from the office. So what I usually do is take breaks every 30 minutes.”

Eifler enjoys presenting ideas and projects to other people.

“Asking their opinions usually makes me think better about the topic and improves my ideas,” Eifler said.

He has a hard time working at home and paying attention during long meetings.

 “I don’t like endless meetings,” he said. “I feel super uncomfortable when I realize that I could be doing something more productive.”

Sales Development Representative Isabella Taques said there are misconceptions extroverts face.

“Sometimes people think extroverts are just after attention. Actually, that’s how they naturally react to things,” she said. “People also assume extroverted people are confident, but one thing is not dependent on the other. People think I’m not completely focused because I talk a lot and like to share things with others, so that’s hard to balance.”

Taques works best with people who listen to her and who feel confident enough to speak up to her.

“Dialogue is essential for me to work better and also feel comfortable at my workplace,” Taques said.

Product Marketer Daniely Gomes said that people often label extroverts as people who are always happy.

“Just because I keep talking a lot all the time and that I’m almost always up to do something, does not mean I don’t have days in which I’m just not feeling quite like myself,” she said. “People don’t usually ask me how I’m doing (which can make me sad, sometimes I need a shoulder too) and whenever I’m actually not talking that much, they tend to make it about themselves, like ‘what did I do?’ or ‘why are you not talking to me?'”

 She also said others misconstrue that extroverts are always craving attention.

“I’m more than happy to step aside and just listen,” Gomes said. “But I have to confess that I get anxious when there’s silence for a long time between people. I need to talk about something to lighten the mood or else I feel like I don’t have control over things and that something is wrong.”

While she is a joyous spark in the office, Gomes sometimes feels pressured by the persona others expect her to wear on a daily basis.

“I get anxious with the fact that people expect me to behave a certain away just because they perceive me as an extrovert, too,” she said. “And whenever I say something wrong or I’m at a loss of words, I get anxious over the fact that people might be judging me and that I disappointed them. I struggle to uphold the expectation of always being the person who’s going to start the conversation, or keep them going, or give everyone a warm ‘welcome,’ or always be the funny/outgoing one. I also have my blue days, and sometimes I just want to be quiet.”

As far as communication goes, she wants you to keep it real.

“Always tell me like it is. And give it to me ASAP,” Gomes said. “If there’s ever something in my behavior that makes working with me uncomfortable, I want people to let me know. I can tone it down a bit, and I don’t mind it.”

Joy Vieira, Sales Development Representative, said while she is extremely outgoing, it can still be difficult or her to ask someone for assistance.

“It’s really hard for me to ask for help, so I end up helping everyone and usually doing everything all by myself because everyone thinks I have it all together,” Vieira said.

She focuses on maintaining strong relationships with her teammates.

 “Developing good relationships in the workplace has always been a top priority for me because you can’t thrive while you’re worried about judgment and nagging,” she said. “I think the simple act of getting closer to someone and seeing them as a human being can makes a world of difference. People will jump in front of a bullet for you if they like you, so all the collaboration gets so much easier when you have those good relationships.”

Vieira encourages introverts to feel free to set boundaries with extroverts.

“We tend to be very open, sometimes way too much, so set boundaries that will make you feel comfortable around us blabbers.”

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Tips on Working with Ambiverts

Isabelle Salemme, Customer Support Representative and Education Team leader breaks down the logistics of work environments as an ambivert.

“Open-plan offices can be a blessing and a nightmare,” she said. “I love being able to interact with other teams, but at the same time, I get overwhelmed if too many people are talking at the same time. The ideal balance would be an open plan project with glass divisions; that way, we’d have the illusion of wide-open space while maintaining the noise at a bearable level. Noise-canceling headphones are a great tool to provide peace while in the middle of a busy office.”

Salemme said she is sometimes put off when others schedule meetings without her knowing what they’re about upfront,

“I’d rather people Slack me or talk to me over coffee to schedule some time if needed,” she said. “It’s annoying when people say they need to talk and then take forever to tell what they need to talk about.”

When it comes to ambiverts, context is key.

“It’s all about the right context,” Salemme said. “Ambiverts are somewhere in the middle of introverts and extroverts, so you should always keep in mind that, even though someone has no problem talking to complete strangers in the line to get coffee, they might not necessarily feel comfortable holding a presentation and being the center of attention. When in doubt, ask whether the person would feel comfortable doing something before assuming.”

“My ideal working environment is somewhere where you can choose to work by yourself, but also have the opportunity to work with someone,” Solutions Designer Anne Winter said. “Being able to choose the best place to work depending on your mood, like at Pipefy, is very nice.”

She appreciates Pipefy’s homey feel.

 “I think that having a kitchen also help us to feel home,” she said. “I can take a walk to have a five-minute break when I need to interact with different people.”

As far as approachability, Winter is fairly flexible with how others interact with her.

“I don’t mind that people come directly to talk with me, but depending on the subject, it might be a good idea to send a message before, or go into a reserved room to talk,” Winter said. “For me, the difficulty is to go talk with someone else, not the contrary.”

With a little patience, Winter believes most ambiverts warm right up to their colleagues.

“Go easy on us,” she advised. “With time, we get more comfortable and confident with our colleagues and the environment, and become more extroverted.”

Paula Sampaio, Customer and Market Intelligence Representative, explains that while she is an ambivert, she’s mostly labeled by others as an extrovert, setting her up for some problems.

“I often get questioned about why I don’t really talk much in a group,” Sampaio said. “For me, it depends a lot on where I am and who I am with. Usually, when I’m part of a new group, I like to keep to myself and listen more to understand where I am and who I am dealing with. After I get to know my surroundings, I start talking nonstop.”

Her ambivert characteristics mean that she has days when she wants to be with others and days when she prefers alone time.

“Sometimes, I want to be surrounded by people, and I’ll schedule a huge lunch with as many coworkers as I can find,” she said. “Other times, I like to eat lunch by myself. When people see me alone, they seem to be bothered and want to save me from myself, and that’s a bit annoying because sometimes I need my own space.”

“Being labeled as an extrovert can help you make friends at work faster, but at the same time people will always expect you to be in a positive, happy mood,” Sampaio said. “And that can be a burden when you are having a bad day, or if you have too much in your head, or even if you’re just not into being too social.”

Wrapping it Up

An organization is stronger and more effective when all of these types of people can work together and respect one another’s differences. It’s to you and your company’s advantage to learn how to be the best team members you can be. Effective communication, after all, is the backbone of all flourishing relationships. Sometimes, that just takes a bit of learning and understanding of what makes everyone tick.

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Ashley Sava

is Pipefy's Editor and Copywriter. With a background in journalism and content marketing, she uses her wit, writing skills and incurable cheerfulness to leave her readers inspired, hooked and informed. Sava resides in Austin, Texas.