Introverts & the Pandemic
Having applied Jungian personality principles to teamwork, leadership and business development for more than twenty years, we decided to ask some of our favorite Introverts for their take on how the pandemic has affected them and their organizations. Paul Gennart, COO Corporate Banking BNP Paribas Fortis in Brussels was quick to reply that he “couldn’t agree more that COVID has affected introverts and extraverts differently.”
He goes on to note that he definitely has welcomed fewer interruptions and less small talk when working remotely. Working from home has also improved his productivity with perhaps an unexpected consequence of the pandemic: he saves two-and-one-half hours a day commuting.
Another Paul, Paul Engle. who is Director of Global Partnerships at Minitab in State College, PA, comments that he welcomed fewer interruptions and less small talk during the office closing. Interestingly, he, “certainly works more and longer hours” when working remotely.
Patricia Battaglia, who is Director for Investment Operations at Pennsylvania State University, has also been working longer hours. “I have a more difficult time separating work from home while working remotely, which has led to staying in my work mind set longer, working more hours, and producing more.”
This prompts me to wonder if Extraverts would respond similarly. From the perspective of an N of one, I get more done in a shorter period of time from home. Don’t tell my boss that I work fewer hours.
One introverted CEO who prefers not to be named, took a starkly different view on being more productive working remotely and answered “absolutely not.” She went on to observe that “Our organization is built on collaboration and talking issues out.”
She is concerned that her team uses social distancing, “…as an excuse not to TALK to someone.” Long term she is concerned about emotional challenges when her team begins to interact full-time in person again.
For those of who hold the Extraverted orientation, and research suggests that would be around 60 to 70% of us, the most important take-away from our little survey could be responses to what our Introverted colleagues would like us to do differently at work.
Paul Gennart captured what we find as the main point when we put Introverts and Extraverts in breakout groups in a training exercise and ask a similar question:
“Ask permission before contacting.”
Yet another Introverted leader who prefers not to be named offered this response:
“I’m happy to be their audience (Extraverts) if they want to “think out loud.” But don’t make me solve problems while you are watching me.”
This does not pretend to be a scientific paper. The sample size was small and it is not organized by APA format of a literature review, method, results and discussion. Rather it fits a blog being brief, hopefully readable, with a few easy and meaningful takeaways:
1 Introverts like to give “permission” before you contact them. This is a good practice that can apply to Introverts and Extraverts alike.
2 There are lots of differences among Introverts. A good rule of thumb is, if you want to know what an Extravert is thinking all you need to do is wait. But if you want to know what an Introvert is thinking, you need to ask.
3 For Extraverts, me included, recognize that while we are thinking out loud, it can interrupt the productivity of our Introverted colleagues.
As a bonus here are a few memes I have found for Introverts and the pandemic:
Social distancing – please I have been preparing for quarantine my whole life.
As an Introvert I need social distancing to end so everyone I live with will get out of the house.
I shudder when I hear, “once this is over we really need to get back together again.”
Now everyone knows what Introverts do for fun.
Finally, I side with Jung spelling Extraversion with an “a.” It is better Latin he wrote.
Arnie, Good stuff and many cogent points. I think there has been good/bad coming out of the pandemic from a business perspective. We can get the job done without being face to face on a regular basis, but expect a hybrid model starting in’22 with a combo of office time and still working remote. Hate to say it, next industry to see a crash ( likely already ) is commercial real estate as companies don’t need as much square footage any longer.
Steve – Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I agree: 1 a hybrid model will emerge; 2 commercial real estate will suffer. Our training practice has adapted by offering remote sessions via Zoom. We probably will be moving to a hybrid, or blended model, in the future. Hope you and Ward are thriving. Arnie