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5 Ways Introvert-Extrovert Couples Can Improve Communication

5 Ways Introvert-Extrovert Couples Can Improve Communication

If he’s the yin to your yang, there’s a good chance you are partnered with your exact opposite. In the beginning, this introvert-extrovert connection is delightful as you experience an attitude different from your own.

Over time, though, it can test your patience and make you question your compatibility.

  • Your mate wants to socialize while you want to stay home together. Aren’t you enough for him?
  • He wants to talk things out while you need time to process. Can’t she give you space to breathe?
  • It hurts your feelings when she tells you she needs time to herself. What is she not telling me?

It’s easy to take these differences personally or think your mate is just being difficult. That’s how my husband and I felt for a long time. It wasn’t until we began traveling the world together in 2010 – working, traveling, and being together 24/7 – that we learned the lessons it might have taken us years to notice and absorb in our old lifestyle.

Before you get to the communication hacks we’ve learned from being together 24/7 the past few years, first take the introvert-extrovert test to verify your hunch about yourself and your mate from introvert expert and author Susan Cain.

Know How Your Mate Recharges

I was sitting in a farmhouse in Slovenia, visiting with a friend at her kitchen table about books, life, and love. It was an introvert’s dream: a calm setting and an intimate conversation catching up with a friend I hadn’t seen in some time.

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As we were discussing relationships and life, I mentioned that I’d recently learned the difference between introverts and extroverts through a book. It helped me realize what I needed to function at a better level, and I’d been implementing some new strategies with good result. My friend, also an introvert, shared her experience.

During our conversation, my husband walked through the kitchen, overhearing a part of our conversation. Later that night as we were lying in bed, he told me it was the single most important bit of information he’d ever learned about me. (And we’ve been together for 10 years.) It was like a light bulb went on in our relationship, erasing the shadows that were distorting our actions.

You see, when I told him earlier I was an introvert, he didn’t quite understand what I meant and I didn’t fully explain it. I also didn’t bother to figure out he was an extrovert. We both missed the introvert-extrovert connection that could drastically improve our communication.

  • Introverts get their energy from being alone and it is drained by being with other people. This doesn’t mean introverts don’t like being around people or that they are shy, just that the effort of being around them is a drain on their energy.
  • Extroverts get their energy from being with other people and it is drained by being alone. This doesn’t mean extroverts cannot be alone or that they are social butterflies, just that the interaction with other people is what energizes them.

Most people fall closer to the middle of the continuum from introvert to extrovert, so you needn’t worry that extroverts need to talk all the time or introverts just want to be left alone. But when you know where your partner is coming from and what helps them be at their best, it’s easier to create the right environment for them to excel (and reap the reward of having them at their best more often).

When you know how your mate needs to recharge and honor it, you’ll notice a drastic improvement in the mood and level of tension in your relationship.

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Pick Your Moment

Need to talk about something important with your partner? For the most productive outcome, pick your timing based on his or her best mood, not yours. This is especially true if you have a complaint or bad news to deliver.

If your mate is an extrovert, you have to allow plenty of time to talk it through. You can’t drop a bomb on the way out the door from work and expect to pick up the conversation later after you’ve had a chance to mull it over. He or she doesn’t want to mull. They want to work it out with you.

If your partner is more of an introvert, he or she will want some time to process and think things through, so giving them a heads up about a conversation beforehand will give them the necessary time to think it through before talking it out.

Don’t Take It Personally

It’s not about you. Your mate is who he is independent of you. Her need to talk things out when you want to be quiet, or his desire to go to the garage and tinker when you want to be together is not about you.

It is simply the way they recharge and get energy.

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Once you understand it’s all about them, it makes it easier to manage and less of a personal attack. In fact, once you start noticing your mate’s energy levels and how they recharge, you’ll want to encourage what they need so you can have more of them at their best.

In an introvert-extrovert relationship, your way is not the best way, and neither is your mate’s. It’s simply a different way of being in the world.

Compromise on Styles

It’s one thing to know your introvert/extrovert status and manage your own energy levels. It is an entirely other thing to merge that style with your mate.

After all, you can’t demand that since you’re an introvert, all conversations are scheduled out so you can have time to think them over. If you’re an extrovert, you can’t keep working to bring your mate ‘out of her shell’ because that’s never going to happen. We are who we are, and even though there are some very social introverts and somewhat shy extroverts, the way we get our energy doesn’t change.

In a relationship, this means compromise. The introvert has to talk about things before she gets enough time to process. The extrovert has to give his partner some space when he wants to be together.

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It’s hard to strike a 50/50 balance, so the more reasonable goal is to lean a bit one way or the other on an alternating basis. The extrovert gives the introvert space on a Saturday afternoon before a party so she can relax and recharge. The introvert stays at the party an hour longer for her partner so he can socialize more.

It doesn’t take much effort to reach a compromise when you understand what your partner needs to function at their best. And you know this small favor on your part will reap huge dividends for your partner and your relationship.

Appreciate Your Mate’s Influence

He’s the yin to your yang, and her influence makes you a better person. He may draw you into more social situations than you like, but it gives you the chance to meet more people you can then follow up with one-to-one and develop great friendships. She may be quieter and more observant, and you benefit from her keen insight into challenging situations.

Different is good, and appreciating how your mate differs from you can add a richness to your life you don’t have on your own. Rather than working to change the other person, it’s important to realize how your mate is changing you simply by being part of your life.

Once you know where you’re mate is coming from, you can much more easily travel down life’s road together.

Are you in a introvert-extrovert relationship? What is your favorite communication hack?

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Last Updated on December 4, 2020

How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

We all crave constructive feedback. We want to know not just what we’re doing well but also what we could be doing better.

However, giving and getting constructive feedback isn’t just some feel-good exercise. In the workplace, it’s part and parcel of how companies grow.

Let’s take a closer look.

Why Constructive Feedback Is Critical

A culture of feedback benefits individuals on a team and the team itself. Constructive feedback has the following effects:

Builds Workers’ Skills

Think about the last time you made a mistake. Did you come away from it feeling attacked—a key marker of destructive feedback—or did you feel like you learned something new?

Every time a team member learns something, they become more valuable to the business. The range of tasks they can tackle increases. Over time, they make fewer mistakes, require less supervision, and become more willing to ask for help.

Boosts Employee Loyalty

Constructive feedback is a two-way street. Employees want to receive it, but they also want the feedback they give to be taken seriously.

If employees see their constructive feedback ignored, they may take it to mean they aren’t a valued part of the team. Nine in ten employees say they’d be more likely to stick with a company that takes and acts on their feedback.[1]

Strengthens Team Bonds

Without trust, teams cannot function. Constructive feedback builds trust because it shows that the giver of the feedback cares about the success of the recipient.

However, for constructive feedback to work its magic, both sides have to assume good intentions. Those giving the feedback must genuinely want to help, and those getting it has to assume that the goal is to build them up rather than to tear them down.

Promotes Mentorship

There’s nothing wrong with a single round of constructive feedback. But when it really makes a difference is when it’s repeated—continuous, constructive feedback is the bread and butter of mentorship.

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Be the change you want to see on your team. Give constructive feedback often and authentically, and others will naturally start to see you as a mentor.

Clearly, constructive feedback is something most teams could use more of. But how do you actually give it?

How to Give Constructive Feedback

Giving constructive feedback is tricky. Get it wrong, and your message might fall on deaf ears. Get it really wrong, and you could sow distrust or create tension across the entire team.

Here are ways to give constructive feedback properly:

1. Listen First

Often, what you perceive as a mistake is a decision someone made for a good reason. Listening is the key to effective communication.

Seek to understand: how did the other person arrive at her choice or action?

You could say:

  • “Help me understand your thought process.”
  • “What led you to take that step?”
  • “What’s your perspective?”

2. Lead With a Compliment

In school, you might have heard it called the “sandwich method”: Before (and ideally, after) giving difficult feedback, share a compliment. That signals to the recipient that you value their work.

You could say:

  • “Great design. Can we see it with a different font?”
  • “Good thinking. What if we tried this?”

3. Address the Wider Team

Sometimes, constructive feedback is best given indirectly. If your comment could benefit others on the team, or if the person whom you’re really speaking to might take it the wrong way, try communicating your feedback in a group setting.

You could say:

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  • “Let’s think through this together.”
  • “I want everyone to see . . .”

4. Ask How You Can Help

When you’re on a team, you’re all in it together. When a mistake happens, you have to realize that everyone—not just the person who made it—has a role in fixing it. Give constructive feedback in a way that recognizes this dynamic.

You could say:

  • “What can I do to support you?”
  • “How can I make your life easier?
  • “Is there something I could do better?”

5. Give Examples

To be useful, constructive feedback needs to be concrete. Illustrate your advice by pointing to an ideal.

What should the end result look like? Who has the process down pat?

You could say:

  • “I wanted to show you . . .”
  • “This is what I’d like yours to look like.”
  • “This is a perfect example.”
  • “My ideal is . . .”

6. Be Empathetic

Even when there’s trust in a team, mistakes can be embarrassing. Lessons can be hard to swallow. Constructive feedback is more likely to be taken to heart when it’s accompanied by empathy.

You could say:

  • “I know it’s hard to hear.”
  • “I understand.”
  • “I’m sorry.”

7. Smile

Management consultancies like Credera teach that communication is a combination of the content, delivery, and presentation.[2] When giving constructive feedback, make sure your body language is as positive as your message. Your smile is one of your best tools for getting constructive feedback to connect.

8. Be Grateful

When you’re frustrated about a mistake, it can be tough to see the silver lining. But you don’t have to look that hard. Every constructive feedback session is a chance for the team to get better and grow closer.

You could say:

  • “I’m glad you brought this up.”
  • “We all learned an important lesson.”
  • “I love improving as a team.”

9. Avoid Accusations

Giving tough feedback without losing your cool is one of the toughest parts of working with others. Great leaders and project managers get upset at the mistake, not the person who made it.[3]

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You could say:

  • “We all make mistakes.”
  • “I know you did your best.”
  • “I don’t hold it against you.”

10. Take Responsibility

More often than not, mistakes are made because of miscommunications Recognize your own role in them.

Could you have been clearer in your directions? Did you set the other person up for success?

You could say:

  • “I should have . . .”
  • “Next time, I’ll . . .”

11. Time it Right

Constructive feedback shouldn’t catch people off guard. Don’t give it while everyone is packing up to leave work. Don’t interrupt a good lunch conversation.

If in doubt, ask the person to whom you’re giving feedback to schedule the session themselves. Encourage them to choose a time when they’ll be able to focus on the conversation rather than their next task.

12. Use Their Name

When you hear your name, your ears naturally perk up. Use that when giving constructive feedback. Just remember that constructive feedback should be personalized, not personal.

You could say:

  • “Bob, I wanted to chat through . . .”
  • “Does that make sense, Jesse?”

13. Suggest, Don’t Order

When you give constructive feedback, it’s important not to be adversarial. The very act of giving feedback recognizes that the person who made the mistake had a choice—and when the situation comes up again, they’ll be able to choose differently.

You could say:

  • “Next time, I suggest . . .”
  • “Try it this way.”
  • “Are you on board with that?”

14. Be Brief

Even when given empathetically, constructive feedback can be uncomfortable to receive. Get your message across, make sure there are no hard feelings, and move on.

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One exception? If the feedback isn’t understood, make clear that you have plenty of time for questions. Rushing through what’s clearly an open conversation is disrespectful and discouraging.

15. Follow Up

Not all lessons are learned immediately. After giving a member of your team constructive feedback, follow it up with an email. Make sure you’re just as respectful and helpful in your written feedback as you are on your verbal communication.

You could say:

  • “I wanted to recap . . .”
  • “Thanks for chatting with me about . . .”
  • “Did that make sense?”

16. Expect Improvement

Although you should always deliver constructive feedback in a supportive manner, you should also expect to see it implemented. If it’s a long-term issue, set milestones.

By what date would you like to see what sort of improvement? How will you measure that improvement?

You could say:

  • “I’d like to see you . . .”
  • “Let’s check back in after . . .”
  • “I’m expecting you to . . .”
  • “Let’s make a dent in that by . . .”

17. Give Second Chances

Giving feedback, no matter how constructive, is a waste of time if you don’t provide an opportunity to implement it. Don’t set up a “gotcha” moment, but do tap the recipient of your feedback next time a similar task comes up.

You could say:

  • “I know you’ll rock it next time.”
  • “I’d love to see you try again.”
  • “Let’s give it another go.”

Final Thoughts

Constructive feedback is not an easy nut to crack. If you don’t give it well, then maybe it’s time to get some. Never be afraid to ask.

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Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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