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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 April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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