9 Tips for Better Communication Between Introverts, Extroverts, Thinkers, and Feelers

extrovertToday at our staff bonding day, one of my coworkers ran a great activity involving our Myers-Briggs personality assessments in regards to communication. As an introverted thinker, I found the activity to be really helpful.

First we broke into two groups–introverts and extroverts–and brainstormed helpful and unhelpful communication tactics. Needless to say, one group was louder than the other! We then reconvened to chat about the differences and find solutions for working with the opposite group. Next we did the same for thinkers and feelers.

Some really great tips came to light through the discussions, so I thought I’d share them with you. These are specifically geared towards how people of the opposite personality type can help with more effective conversation.

How Introverts Can Help Extroverts Communicate

  • Visible Responsiveness: Extroverts love to process their thoughts out loud, but if all they’re getting in return from an introvert is a blank stare, they’re not going to feel engaged. Introverts can help extroverts by acknowledging what they’re saying and actively listening.
  • Remove Time Barriers: Extroverts can feel stifled and constrained if they don’t have much time to talk. Introverts can help them–especially during crucial conversations–by giving them the freedom to completely flesh out a thought or idea out loud. Don’t rush them to a conclusion.

How Extroverts Can Help Introverts Communicate

  • Pauses Are Helpful: Introverts need more time to process thoughts internally before expressing them out loud. This often means that they wait for pauses in the conversation to jump in and have their say. Extroverts are often too quick to close those gaps, so they can help introverts by allowing for gaps in the conversation. Another form of the “pause” is to give introverts plenty of time to think through their thoughts by sending them an e-mail. Introverts usually communicate really well in writing.
  • Don’t Interrupt or Impose: Introverts often have lots to say, but they might save up their thoughts for one well-composed comment, especially in a large group conversation. When they finally decide to put themselves out there and speak up, the last thing extroverts should do is interrupt them. That’s a great way to get an introvert to shut down.
  • Invitations to Speak: Introverts can thrive if they are invited to speak or actively welcomed into a conversation. Extroverts can help by asking questions and calling introverts over to join group discussions (especially at intimidating group events like happy hours).

How Thinkers Can Help Feelers Communicate

  • Let Them Know You Care: When feelers try to communicate to thinkers, they often come away from the conversation unfulfilled because the thinker didn’t emote with them. The heart of this is that they feel like they thinker doesn’t care. Thinkers can help nip that in the bud by verbally expressing that they care. Literally.
  • Create a Connection: Feelers communicate best if there is a human connection being made, even when a task is being issued or a blunt message is delivered. Someone said that getting a text that says, “okay :)” is way better than just “okay.” The smiley face goes a long way! In person, this means that an introvert might comment on something the extrovert is wearing or compliment them before getting to the logistics.

How Feelers Can Help Thinkers Communicate

  • Framing Conversations: Thinkers tend to look at things objectively and quantitatively. They tend to get the most out of conversation that focus on facts and solutions. However, sometimes feelers simply need to vent. That’s perfectly fine, but feelers need to frame the conversation by telling the thinkers that venting is their priority.
  • Get to the Point: Thinkers don’t want or need the connection that I discussed above for feelers. If a feeler has something to tell a thinker, get to the point. Don’t beat around the bush.

If you’re reading this, you fit into one of these categories. (Some of you might think that you are introverted sometimes and extroverted at other times, but the truth is that you fall into one of those categories all of the time, and you have certain personal preferences about thinks you like or dislike. That’s what being a human is.) If you have any communication tips to share for your opposite, feel free to share below.