In my work as TTI SI’s Cognitive Behavioral Research Analyst, I focus on the how and why of human behavior. Why do people do what they do? How does the lens of a behavioral style help us understand each other? Why do some people prefer to communicate in one method over the other?
These questions can get technical in research, but the answers are the true key to successful communication, engagement, and productivity in the workplace. Not everyone knows what their DISC type is, but most people know if they’re an extrovert, introvert, or somewhere in between. Here are the skills each type naturally excel in, areas of improvement, and what you can do to understand each type better.
Extroverts: Energy from Others
Because extroverts are energized and focused by interacting with other people, they tend to thrive in social environments and situations. For this reason, they often have well developed public engagement and presentation skill sets.
As they age and gain experience in the workplace, they tend to naturally develop similar skill sets, such as diplomacy, persuasion, and even leadership.
If we’re viewing Extroverts through the lens of DISC, focus on High Dominance (Direct) and High Influence (Outgoing). Extroverts are energized by interacting and engaging with people. The higher their I, the more trust they have towards people and the more enthusiastic they are just about being around people. The higher their D, the more their drive to engage with people is centered around how those people see them. They feel strongest or at their best when they're seen by others as in positions of leadership and respect.
However, there are a variety of skill sets that are not as natural for them, which are often overlooked or neglected without direction.
These include skills in and around analytical problem solving, self-management or effectiveness, and even written communication. Extroverts tend to be ‘doers’, not planners, and this can cause chaos in a team environment if others are not on the same page.
Introverts: Energy From the Self
Introverts are focused on their internal world, and are energized by spending time alone. This doesn’t mean that introverts dislike people; it just means that socializing and networking take a lot of energy from them.
That being said, Introverts & Ambiverts don't necessarily get 'energized' in the same way as extroverts do. Instead, they maintain a steady level of energy (or calmness) unless they are pushed outside of their "comfort" zone, in which case they begin to lose energy and get upset or disgruntled.
Using the lens of DISC, Introverts are people I would call High Compliance (Precise). Staying within their comfort zone means staying within the 'rules' as they see them, because much of what they do depends on a level of order or control. This means getting to interact with others (or not interact at all) on their own terms and in the way they want. It also means doing projects and tasks according to the rules they know and in a way they think is 'best'.
They get knocked out of their comfort zone anytime they're forced to do something in a way that is different from what they prefer (or known to be better) and when they have to work with others who do things differently (particularly if they see it as "the wrong way").
Introverts are naturally inquisitive and tend to be continuous learners, as well as analytical problem solvers. They are skilled at managing themselves and their work, and are reliable and trustworthy members of a team.
When it comes to skills like public speaking or customer service and sales, however, introverts don’t perform as well. Their tendency to turn inward and focus their energy on a smaller circle make presenting, networking and persuading others uncomfortable.
Verbal communication can also be an area to improve, since they can get overlooked with larger personalities.
Ambiverts: Energy From Balance
Ambiverts are the lesser known third option when it comes to energy and where you get it. Defined by their ability to regulate their own behavior and adapt to different situations, ambiverts have the qualities of both extroverts and introverts.
Using DISC, Ambiverts are people I would call high S's (Steady). They tend to stay within their 'comfort zone' by keeping and maintaining a level of harmony or balance, both in their life and in the lives of those around them. They are extremely sensitive to the emotional environment and feel it before most others, so if others are upset, they feel off.
An ambivert feels most in their comfort zone when they are keeping the peace and serving in a support type position for others. They feel best when they are helping others and can enjoy interacting with people if they feel the conversation is purposeful, important, or 'real'.
They enjoy time alone as well as time socializing, and are naturally empathic. Their ability to understand and adapt to others allows them to manage conflict gracefully and lead teams compassionately. Ambiverts are also skills in negotiation and diplomacy; they are great listeners and observers, so they know how to communicate to both sides.
Ambiverts excel at balance, but that doesn’t mean they’re exempt from areas of improvement. They can still lack general task oriented skills or extrovert skills for extended periods of time, so they might be able to tolerate working with people but they might not do well in customer service or a sales position.
They can also struggle when it comes to personal effectiveness, since they tend to focus on others more than themselves.
How Can Extroverts, Introverts & Ambiverts Excel?
Everyone, no matter their personality type, benefits from knowing more about themselves. This is especially true when an individual is given insight into their own level of intellectual development and or emotional maturity. Having this awareness can not only identify where they're at in life but what they need to get where they want to go.
However, this kind of insight can be harder to come by, which is why having a mentor or a life coach is so beneficial, particularly for younger individuals. Similarly, tools and assessments that evaluate behavioral styles, motivators, and soft skills can provide even greater insight, especially when used in conjunction with a mentor.
Assessments help identify which skill sets a person has already cultivated as well as the skills that need further development, which allows them to focus their energy towards the skills and abilities that are needed to achieve their goals.