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Author's profile photo Jason Cao

Introverts and Extroverts – Who Cares?

Of course, we all should care! How do we care for introverts and extroverts?

Someone told me that “extroverts talk to think, and introverts think to talk.” I thought that was an interesting description and distinction between these personality types. It reminds me of the  various personalities I encounter in coaching, as well as my work with members of the SAP Community Network (SCN).

I believe the digital world, including online communities like SCN, have leveled the playing field for introverts and extroverts. No longer do extroverts have the upper hand, the first word, or the last word.  Both are given the same opportunity to express themselves in as many words or as frequently as they like, from the comforts of their own digital devices.

If you can associate the “talk to think” practice of extroverts to a “do-think-do” behaviour many exhibit, then extroverts may even be at a disadvantage in the digital world. Look at all the public apologies from Celebrity mis-Tweets, and you’ll know that there are certain responsibilities and consequences, in addition to great benefits, in digital content. On SCN, I even encouraged our members to Think-Blog-Think.

Whether you’re dealing with introverts or extroverts at work, home, school or social media, it’s important to care for both! I found the following infographics on “How to Care for Introverts” and “How to Care for Extroverts” both entertaining and useful.

Which points resonate with you most?

/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/howtocareforintroverts_137126.jpg(image source)

/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/howtocareforextrovertsbold_137127.jpg(image source)

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      Author's profile photo Tobias Trapp
      Tobias Trapp

      I think above advices are very useful in every social situation: work, school and even relationships.

      From my experience in online communities introverts and extroverts are hard to distinguish. Sometimes I think the web is an ideal place for extroverts and introverts. From my experience introverts like hard, focused work and prefer asynchronous communication. Introverts can have loud voices - in online communities as well as in real life. Sometimes I think the web was made from introverts for introverts: the reason is that you usually subgroups are evolving having only a few members. Those community members can use the web to come together in real life in groups of every size.

      Let's com to the pictures above. "Respect their independence" - holds for introverts, too. Being introverted doesn't mean that you like micromanagement. Compliments and getting acceptance are always motivating. Explorations are fascinating for people who don't want to be micromanaged - but talking things out doesn't always hold for introverts.

      I could continue to analyze the rest of the points but I want to come to my conclusion: In online communities it will be hard to distinguish introverts and extroverts and I think many advices from above apply for both members. The reason is that introverts tend to prefer small groups and asynchronous communication which give them time to think.

      I would like to give managers of an online community like SCN following advice:
      *) Don't expect everyone who has a loud voice in the community to be extroverted.
      *) Embrace diversity: an online community needs extroverts as well as introverts.
      *) Don't have prejudices: of course extroverts can be "thinkers", too - and introverts can have loud voices online as well as in real life.

      These are my five pence but I will continue to think about it.

      Best Regards,


      Author's profile photo Jason Cao
      Jason Cao
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks for your feedback and comments, Tobias! I, too, think introverts and extroverts are needed in our community, lives and work places.

      Thanks for your advice to community managers - I like them all, especially your point about prejudices. Its difficult in online communities to distinguish introverts from extroverts - this is my point around leveling the playing field (in other words equal opportunity). Perhaps it is best not to try to distinguish the two, as this leads to prejudices. 🙂


      Author's profile photo DJ Adams
      DJ Adams

      Hi Jason

      I would like to echo some of Tobias's points - one shouldn't assume that loud voices mean extroverts, and (I know you didn't make these pictures) some of the advice is valid for both.

      The esteemed Thorsten Franz once described a distinction between introverts and extroverts that resonated with me: the former like to recharge themselves on their own, the latter amongst people. I totally identify with the former, by the way.



      Author's profile photo Jason Cao
      Jason Cao
      Blog Post Author

      Hi DJ,

      In my comment above to Tobias, I was reflecting on how useful/useless it is to distinguish between introverts and extroverts in our digital world. Much of the "observable" behaviours of these personalities can not be seen in the same ways. Before we identify tell-tale signs of introversion or extroversion of our members, we need to first ask what purpose there is to this type of distinction - perhaps to predict member participation, to design community events, or maybe even to communicate change and opportunities?

      All I know is, you've shown me that even as an introvert, you're really fun at concerts and parties! 😉