Stay True to Your Own Nature

I was honoured to be invited to return to speak to the staff and lawyers at Guild Yule LLP a few weeks ago. On this occasion, I gave a presentation on introverts and extroverts, business strategies for success. The purpose of the presentation was to increase self-acceptance and to better understand the personality tendencies of colleagues, friends, and loved ones. Knowing your preferred personality style can be helpful, and one isn’t better than the other. The more you know about yourself the better able you are to choose how you will respond in any given situation, as opposed to reacting out of habit or unconsciously. It is worthwhile to learn your own preferences related to decision-making, focusing mental energy, gathering information, interacting with others, and recharging and restoring your energy.

Interestingly, approximately 60% of lawyers are introverts. At first blush, this may seem surprising as it is inconsistent with the common perception of lawyers as being overly confident, boisterous, and self-assured. But if you think about it, many of us spend a great deal of our time working in solitude, even the litigators. Recognizing, and perhaps even declaring our preferred personality style, can help us to understand the optimal level of stimulation we need to increase productivity, improve work product, and increase job satisfaction.

Both introverts and extroverts can be good leaders, but for different reasons. Introverts can be good leaders because they often listen, think first, and talk later. They can be measured and deliberate, and inspire trust in both clients and adversaries. Introverts are uniquely good at leading initiative takers because of their inclination to listen to others, and lack of interest in dominating social situations. Research demonstrates that team members of introverted leaders perceive them as more open and receptive to their ideas, which motivates them to work harder. Extroverts can be good leaders because they excel at expressing ideas. Effective communication is a strong and necessary tool for the establishment of any venture, and extroverts are often good communicators. They can engage people and provide them with incentives to keep them motivated. Extroverts are also comfortable with teamwork and working with large groups. With their natural ability to inspire people, extroverts are better at obtaining results from more passive workers.

If you are an extrovert talking to an extrovert, listen. Let the other person talk. Resist the urge to be competitive. Know what you will say, say it, and then be quiet. If you are an extrovert talking to an introvert, encourage others to contribute. Resist the urge to fill the silence with talk. Give others time to reflect. Ask permission before interrupting someone’s work. Try asking, “Is this a good time?"

If you are an introvert talking to an extrovert, be prepared to share. Assert yourself in volume and with words. Don’t be afraid to interject. Many extroverts enjoy one-on-one time and face-to-face interaction to feel valued, so reach out regularly rather than relying on emails or other more distant forms of communication. If you are an introvert talking to an introvert, be prepared to take the lead in talking. Don’t be afraid to interrupt a silence after reflection. Don’t confuse silence with consent.

Stay true to your own nature, regardless of where you fall on the introvert, extrovert or ambivert scale.

Thank you again to Guild Yule LLP for offering the platform to talk about how we can better understand ourselves and each other based on our preferred personalities.

Bena Stock
Bena Stock was called to the Bar in 1992 and practised primarily in the areas of professional negligence and insurance defence for 24 years.