How managers can create a work environment for both introverts and extroverts to thrive

communication-toolkit-for-introvertsThis is the final segment of  Communication Preferences of Introverts and Extroverts, chapter one of the introvert book, Communication Toolkit for Introverts. 

Let’s get to:

How managers can create a work environment for both introverts and extroverts to thrive

Extensive research about effective working environments finds that lighting, noise, color, and even air quality affects employee productivity. These factors stimulate the introvert and extrovert differently.

Because our environment is all about energy like the energy from the people in the room, the energy from the way things are arranged, or the energy from either clutter or organization, by far this is one area that affects us from the moment we get to work until the end of the workday.

Leaders and staff would benefit immensely in creating an environment that serves both the more introverted and more extroverted if they know how to set things up to play to each preference.


While extroverts can better tolerate bright light, partially because of not being so affected by sensory stimulation, introverts do better with more subdued and indirect lighting.

Lighting companies know the type of lighting can affect both our mental state and therefore our performance.

Extroverts are not as affected by such sensory factors. Bright lights might even energize them.

Lighting will affect alertness and activity in people differently. The best way to know how you are affected is by trying different kinds and checking their effect on your work.


Numerous studies have examined the effects of music on performance. A current study by Adrian Furnham and Anna Bradley, Department of Psychology, University College London, UK, found that depending on both the task and the temperament of the employee, music while you work can mean either better or worse performance.

If you asked yourself was it introverts or extroverts who performed better with music, even pop music, and you answered extroverts, you are right.

Even background music may cause introverts to lose focus and have worse performance.


In the design of an office the optimal situation is to have both quiet and open spaces that give people the type of space needed for the task at hand.

A recent study by the design firm Gensler found both open-plan layouts and the lower cubicle setup do more to compromise some workers’ ability to concentrate and be productive. The findings from surveying 2,035 employees found that it is when employees are given their choice between quiet spaces and collaborative spaces that productivity is optimal.

Collaborative office space can be an open-plan office design. Credit is often given to German designers, post-war, for the open plan office design still in many offices today. Replacing traditional factory style line up of desks for what was once thought to a better arrangement, with workers facing the boss like in schools where students were facing the teacher, now there was not necessarily a hierarchy of seating.

Cubicles, possibly the last chance for an introvert to have privacy, are on the way out.

Faux privacy

Faux privacy is where privacy by personal office is not possible or impractical in the company space, earplugs or even headphones can serve to dampen the surrounding noise.

Founded in 1994, when in 2012 Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer took the position she quickly got the media’s attention: she ended telecommuting for all of their 11,500 employees working in that way.

It turns out research finds that telecommuting is almost an ideal work environment for an extrovert. Suppositions are it is because of their quicker decision-making style in a more volatile environment. They can better manage inevitable interruptions that might happen because of looser rules at home. And regardless of where they work from, they stay connected with people.

Mayer and the human resource people believed in-person interaction is still best for communicating even for these knowledge workers. E-mail would not serve the purpose as well in particular as the company was going to be forging new territory.

Part of the changes also included redoing the office space to create a more collaborative atmosphere.

What kind of work might many of the employees be involved in that requires concentration, focus, even research?

Apparently the jury is still out on the changes Mayer made. As relates to our personality style, there are proponents for both the more introverted and more extroverted being affected the most.

Mayer seems to bring in to this decision to end telecommuting what she learned at Google in terms of where innovation comes from: discovery, collaboration, and fun.

The more you research Mayer’s move you find firms like Apple, Facebook, Zappos and more, with data supporting evidence of how more interaction, in part from collaboration, fosters faster decision-making and more innovation.

If extroverts do thrive with people connections, they could benefit from being lassoed back to an office where people and interactions abound.


The communication preferences between the introvert and extrovert are real but certainly manageable. With the completion of this chapter you either are reminded of, or have found new learning in this chapter about the introvert and extrovert communication divide. You are at the point where you:

  • Understand the key introvert and extrovert differences in communications
  • Have deduced that the differences in communication styles identified are all about you or the extrovert satisfying a need to be energized
  • Understand you might be an ambivert who on balance has energizing needs from either end of the introvert and extrovert bell curve
  • Have a greater understanding of some prevalent introvert myths and now know the truth of each
  • Recognize some foundational beliefs you have to adapt to go forward in being able to better communicate with extroverts
  • Have a real-life understanding of both sides of either taking on your weakness or playing to your strengths so you can decide the best strategy for you
  • Have practical ideas you or your manager can use to make your environment more conducive to both the introvert and extrovert preferences

Thoughts to contemplatetime-for-introvert-reflection

As you reflect back on this chapter, about the communication preferences of introverts and extroverts, ask yourself these three key things:

  • How has your belief or disbelief of commonly stated introvert myths helped you or hurt you in your everyday business communication?
  • Once you decide on the effects the myths have on you, what will you either continue to do, or do differently, going forward in order to increase your business communication successes?
  • Whether you work at home or in an office, can you prioritize the four office environment factors that work to your benefit?




Carducci’s report on shy versus introverted:

Adam Grant’s abstract report on ambiverts: for_sales_positions.html

Online assessments for ambiverts, introverts, and extroverts:

    1. – most comprehensive description of results

Coping Strategies for Introverts Married to Extraverts is an article from the June 28, 2011 edition of the Wall Street Journal

Image for the Thoughts to contemplate section, courtesy of Stuart Miles can be found at


I’m so grateful you were here as I shared this chapter about the communication preferences of introverts and extroverts! Thank you. If I didn’t ask, I’d be remiss:

Did you find benefit from any or all of chapter one in the introvert book, Communication Toolkit for Introverts?

Have you either purchased the book or recommended it to someone for some reason?

If you did purchase it, where have you written your review?

communication-introvert-best-sellerThree ways to get the information you want in this chapter:

  • If you want small doses of the first chapter, subscribe to the blog in the red sign-up box on the home page to get notices of each blog post.
  • If you want to read the whole chapter without giving any email or getting on any list, go to follow and read at your leisure.
  • If you want a PDF copy of this chapter’s 15 pages, please share this post, let me know in an email to patricia (@) the link that shows where you shared it. It will be delivered quickly to you!

Sign Up Now

* We don't like spam either so we won't share your email with anyone else.


  1. Above all things, I think lack of background noise enables me to be the most productive. I adore working in natural light much more than florescent. In a nutshell, I love my home office and the way it suits my working style. Yet, this also makes me think about the average classroom and how there’s a long way to go in school design, which is way behind business innovators.
    Jeri recently posted…#AuthorInterview: Diana MarinovaMy Profile

  2. Jeannette Paladino

    Patricia — I’m an extrovert but I can’t work with music in the background. Different strokes for different folks. I think the open-space environment works better for younger professionals than “old-timers” who are use to offices with doors. Of course, I’ve worked in my share of open-office designs over the years but I’m much more productive when I have my own defined space.
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…To Order a New Service Press 1 – Again and AgainMy Profile

  3. While I don’t work in a “company” office anymore (yea!) I can certainly relate to the points you’ve shared with us Patricia. The music in particular brought back an incident. I’d been dreaming of the day I’d finally get an office with a door. It finally happened, and even though I had to share the office with one other manager i was thrilled … for a whole day. She was not only as much of an extrovert as I am an introvert, but she had just recently become a born-again Christian and listened to readings from the bible all day – every day. Between her constant talking and the bible study it didn’t take long for that to send me over the edge. Fortunately, I managed to gather my senses enough to walk away and calm myself before talking with her about it. I suggested a compromise by using earphones. She was a little put off at first, but I think the fact that I explained my concerns and asked politely instead of losing my tempter made the difference because she then agreed and from that point on we got along fine.
    Marquita Herald recently posted…On Making Peace With UncertaintyMy Profile

  4. Pamela Chollet

    I hope a lot of employers read this post! Environment influences productivity and if more companies took that to heart, they may say money on consultant fees. When I worked with special needs children I was constantly battling with administrators to change the fluorescent lighting in the classrooms. They were so focused on “numbers” and “test scores” they never looked at the learning environment as an influential source of poor performance.
    Pamela Chollet recently posted…Surprising Facts About Your Newborn BabyMy Profile

  5. Hi Patricia,

    An office environment surely impacts productivity. I remember when I used to have to go to the office all the time it would be freezing all year round. It was hard to focus on what I was doing when I was trying to figure out how to keep warm.

    I so enjoy working from home now where I can adjust the temp as necessary.

    I do have to agree with Mayer about working together in the office as the potential to be more fun and collaborative than working from different locations. Although I enjoy working remotely, in certain positions it is probably better to connect with other workers on a regular basis. I guess it depends on the position.

    Lea Bullen recently posted…How to Stay Motivated When You Just Really Want to Lie on the CouchMy Profile

  6. Lea I think people know intellectually that the office environment affects our productivity. It’s the leaders who manage those environments who take little consideration for our temperament differences and adapt appropriately. Thanks.
    Patricia Weber recently posted…5 Top Weekly Blog posts, week 16, from #Introvert InspirerMy Profile

  7. I have to admit, I thrive in the office. I am unsure if I could do work from home, there is no structure for me to adhere too. I can be quit lazy, and wait to the last minute to accomplish something, so I am not a good candidate from telecommuting from home. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  8. Krystyna Lagowski

    Judging by your description, I guess I do have some introvert moments. But I’m pretty sure I’m an extrovert most of the time. Offices are too restrictive, can’t bear routine, and I need a LOT of light! The point about in-person interaction is bang on, when I working on something, talking to another human being (sometimes several) makes a big difference. Extrovert or introvert, we can’t work in a vacuum!
    Krystyna Lagowski recently posted…Getting happy — 2015 VW Beetle convertible was my room without a roof.My Profile

  9. All employers have both extrovert and introvert employees. Isn’t it interesting that creating a work environment for both categories don’t seem to be a priorty.

    Instead the focus is to facilitate for different ethnic groups and LGBTQ, which obviously is important. But in all those different groups there are extroverts as well as introverts. Is it really possible for an introvert from an ethnic minority to thrive in a company if the environment only suits extroverts?
    Catarina recently posted…Do you thrive in the social era?My Profile

  10. I am always surprised when going into an office type environment to hear music playing. As a manager I resisted it at all costs as a distraction and potential source of conflict. Staff could listen to a personal music player as a last resort!
    As a designer I instruct the same of my contractors. Clients, and their neighbors, do not want to listen to hour upon hour of loud music not to mention the endless accompanying drivel of the presenters!
    Silence and quiet though is much underused asset!
    Incidentally most would not consider me an introvert, quite the opposite in fact.
    Rosalind recently posted…Recipe : Gooseberry and Raspberry jamMy Profile

  11. Hi Patricia, I found this super interesting. I have always had very strong feelings in regards to lighting at work or at home or the level of privacy that I had in my work environment. I never connected it with being and introvert or extrovert, until now. Fascinating. I remember years ago interviewing for jobs and after seeing where I’d be working losing interest simp,y because of the setup and lack of any privacy or the lighting being too bright. I thought I was just odd. :). I think employees would be a lot more productive if they had some say in the setup of the office space
    Susan cooper recently posted…Roasted Onion Flowers: #RecipeMy Profile

  12. It makes perfect sense to me that an introvert might prefer to work at an external location as opposed to working at home. Not unlike the sense of suffocation an introvert feels in a crowd, there is a certain claustrophobia in staying home all day, and an introvert is going to want to escape that.
    Andy recently posted…Profiles in PC Poisoning, Part 3My Profile

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This