You missed the staff meeting and need to get the scoop on what was shared. Who do you turn to? Your extroverted, high-energy co-worker who seems to be in-the-know when it comes to office updates and juicy drama? That might be your first instinct. And if you want to know how staff reacted to news shared during the meeting, definitely check in with your outgoing pal. But guess what? If you need to know concrete details from the meeting – facts and numbers – you’re better off checking with the introspective, quiet guy, according to recent research.
As a keynote speaker who teaches communication, I was interested in the results of the study in which 40 employees of a company in Amsterdam were shown five photos depicting ambiguous social situations and given as long as they wanted to describe each photo. Three days later, the participants also completed a personality questionnaire.
Introverts were far more likely than extroverts to use specific, descriptive language and also used more numbers and references to specific people. Extroverts, on the other hand, tended to describe the photos in terms that were rated by an independent coder as more abstract, and they engaged in more interpretation, describing things not directly visible in the pictures. The extroverts drew conclusions from the pictures, making judgment calls that could not necessarily have been backed up by what they saw.
The upshot? If you want to know about, say, a project’s details, check in with your more quiet co-worker. If you want to get a read on peoples’ receptivity to the project, ask your boisterous buddy. Between the two, you might feel as if you were in attendance. Mmm, another time management tip?