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Extraversion: What is it and why your business should care

December 21, 2023
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Humans have tried to understand our psyche since the dawn of time. However, when it comes to business, this becomes even more important. Without comprehending your employees’ personalities, behaviours, and skills, you’re going to be less likely to build a team that’s high performing. This is why soft skills are getting increasingly vital for companies in the hiring process.

In order to do this, you must understand the main traits that are relevant to employers. Here’s our deep dive into one of these traits: extraversion.

What is the Big Five model?

Psychologists have created many different models for categorising and understanding different elements of our psyche. The Big Five theory, however, is considered the most reliable in employment contexts. According to this model, there are five clusters of personality traits that stand at the core of a person’s character, and as a result, the most indicative of performance. These clusters are Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism — also referred to as OCEAN. These are scored on a spectrum, so every individual gets a unique mark for each trait, rather than an overall ‘personality type’. This allows the Big Five model to remain scientifically valid and reliable for business purposes.

Further reading: The Big Five model — overview, origins, and use in human resources

What is extraversion?

One of the Big Five traits, extraversion measures an individual’s relationship with other humans — how energetic, outgoing, and sociable they are. Extraverted people are usually friendly, draw energy from spending time around other people, and like sharing their ideas with others. Their network reaches far and wide, they have a variety of friends, and are usually the life of the party.

Those who score low in extraversion, however, prefer to be by themselves, get exhausted in social situations, they might be a bit more awkward or shy, and are happy in their own internal world, not needing external stimulation like extraverts.

What traits are related to extraversion?

Extraversion can be essential for employees, especially those who work in teams. In the Thrive platform, the main traits that relate to extraversion are:

  • Enthusiastic: Proactive and motivated to start tasks, thrives on being busy, and may act on impulse.
  • Sociable: Enjoys connecting with new people, and tends to be lively and outgoing in groups.
  • Influential: Assertive, expresses opinions with ease, and enjoys persuading others.

Other qualities that may fall under the umbrella of extraversion are:

  • Outgoing
  • Friendly
  • Assertive
  • Excitement-seeking
  • Attention-seeking
  • Cheerful

On the other hand, some traits that could be associated with low extraversion are:

  • Introvert
  • Risk-averse
  • Reflective
  • Loner tendencies

How do extraverted people act in business situations?

Extraverted employees thrive in group environments. As long as they can work with others, they’re happy — you might see a decline in productivity or performance if they have to work alone for too long. They are excellent communicators, love being the centre of attention, and aren’t afraid of confrontation. They are dynamic, bold, driven, and confident, making them great employees for many roles.

For example, an extraverted employee is more likely to:

  • Think things through in brainstorming sessions rather than alone
  • Actively participate in socials and work events
  • Invest time and energy into developing personal relationships with colleagues
  • Thrive in networking events
  • Be talkative in meetings
  • Sit with everyone at lunch
  • Act comfortably around people
  • Volunteer for roles that would bring prestige or attention
  • Be an excellent public speaker
  • Love meeting clients and new people

People with lower extraversion scores, however, are more likely to prefer working alone or in the back office, struggle to focus when their atmosphere is not quiet, and favour tasks that don’t involve reaching out to clients or peers. They may be less comfortable in social situations, and prefer thinking things through on their own than talking with another person.

What roles would benefit from high extraversion?

Extraversion is an incredible asset for many roles, particularly those that require a lot of interaction with others, be it colleagues or clients. Extraverted people are also often charismatic and enjoy attention, making them fantastic candidates for careers that involve convincing others, networking, or public speaking. Some of the roles that high extraversion is vital for are:

  • Motivational speaker
  • Salesperson
  • Performer
  • Event planner
  • Teacher
  • Bartender
  • PR

On the other hand, people who score lower in extraversion would be better suited for working independently or in small teams. For example:

  • Developer
  • Engineer
  • Freelancer
  • Mathematician
  • Accountant

It’s important to note, however, that one trait on its own is not enough to provide a reliable answer to an individual’s suitability for a role. Only a fuller assessment would reveal real insights.

How can extraversion be developed?

While we are mostly born with a certain set of qualities, it doesn’t mean we can’t develop our soft skills. If you want to improve your extraversion score you could try to:

  • Reward motivation: If maintaining high levels of enthusiasm at work is challenging, consider setting up personal rewards for completing tasks or achieving milestones.
  • Get sociable: Next time you find yourself at a social gathering, challenge yourself to speak to at least 5 people, of which at least 3 are unknown to you.
  • Improve existing relationships: You could, for example, ask your team to play a sport together, or simply invite a colleague for a coffee.
  • Think about your language: Avoid tentative language like ‘I think’ and ‘maybe’, instead swapping it for more definitive language.

Wondering how extraverted your staff or candidates are? Book a demo with Thrive today to learn more about how we can help you to identify this trait in potential employees and how to nurture it within your current team.

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