Pseudo-Extroverts in the Workplace

What is a Pseudo Extrovert?

We all know what an extrovert is or at least the characteristics of a true extrovert. Loud, brassy, ballsy and seeking attention. But a pseudo-extrovert? Who are these people? Pseudo-extroverts are really introverted people who exhibit extroverted behavior for a variety of reasons. Their behavior can be considered situational. Many pseudo-extroverts have to present an outward appearance for their jobs. Thanks to a book that I have been reading over the last two years, I have discovered that I am an introvert with a classic pseudo-extrovert personality. I’ve never really thought about introvert-extrovert stuff until I picked up a book entitled “Quiet” The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. By Susan Cain. Great read!

So I’m an introvert. But you can’t tell that to my friends who think I’m the Ultimate Extrovert. I laugh, I smile a lot, and tell witty and funny tales. Little do they know that I am secretly dying to get home to watch House of Cards!

I would rather be alone reading, writing, researching, surfing or data mining. But, sometimes in my job and career as a consultant, I have to be in the spotlight with giving presentation, attending meetings, doing one-on-one coaching and other people-filled events. Oh and I have to network, which is often not a good fit for introverts.

Recently a friend stated “I thought Gary was a shy introvert until I saw him at a party”. This is the power of pseudo- extroverts; fool them anyway you can! But career wise, if you are a real introvert, you have to think about how you turn the other side on and off as needed. I sometimes think that we all play roles and act out several parts during our workday. Work can be as much theater and drama as it is skill and ability. If you want to be true to yourself, you have to know how to play these roles well.

So here are some traits of being pseudo and how to secure restorative niches (private spaces to regroup) at work. I call these personal get-a-ways.

• If you are in a position of leadership, you probably need regular doses of personal time to regroup and recharge. If you don’t get this throughout your day, you may become ineffective

• If you have a job where you can spend the majority of your time on preparation, research, discovery, analysis, writing, producing or work that is behind the scenes, consider yourself lucky

• If you are in a combined role where you occasionally or periodically need to make appearances at meetings, briefings, workshops, training or work in large groups, try to grin and bear it- no scratch that- smile broadly and use pseudo-extroverts methods to get you through the event. You can do this knowing that you will be in the comfort and security of your private space soon.

• Even if you work in a public venue where lots of others are near you or share spaces, you can still find restorative niches by moving around, position yourself out of direct paths of contact and conversation and of course add headphones while you data mine away!

Hopefully this is advice that might enhance your current experience in the workplace. We all know that some organizations have a culture where being quiet and keeping to yourself is unacceptable. But, if you are like me, you can manage any situation by turning on the pseudo- extroverted charm. Just remember that quiet bliss (and Netflix) are not far away!

By Gary Hines

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