- An extrovert has a leg up over introverts at work, according to a new study.
- For example, extroverts are more skilled at schmoozing with coworkers. They also tend to experience positive emotions more often, which can protect against burnout.
- Other research suggests introverts and "ambiverts" can be just as successful as extroverts, if not more so.
If you've worked in an office with more than one person, you know that success is rarely just a matter of how hard you work. Personalities can play a major role in who gets promoted, praised, and paid more.
A new analysis adds some fuel to that particular fire. According to a forthcoming publication in the journal Applied Psychology, led by Michael P. Wilmot at the University of Toronto Scarborough, extroverts tend to have four consistent advantages over everyone else in the workplace.
Extroversion is one of the "Big Five" personality traits psychologists have documented. For this study, researchers broke down extroversion into two key components: assertiveness and enthusiasm. They reviewed 97 scientific articles on extroversion and looked for links between extroversion and professional success.
"Extraversion has effects in a desirable direction for 90% of variables, which represents a degree of consistency not previously documented," the authors write.
Here are the main advantages extroverts have at work, according to the paper:
1. They're more motivated by rewards
Extroverts are more interested in potential rewards for their performance, like higher status. Plus, they're more confident to achieve those objectives.
2. They stay positive
Extroverts tend to experience positive emotions more often, which can be advantageous for a few reasons, the authors write. For example, those positive feelings protect against negative phenomena like burnout or work-life imbalance, and they make it easier to adjust to new work environments when switching jobs or offices.
3. They're good schmoozers
Extroverts are skilled at both verbal and nonverbal communication -- not to mention they're adept at persuading people in situations like job interviews and negotiations. The authors say that's likely why extroverts are more likely to become leaders.
4. They perform better on the job
Extroverts received higher ratings on different areas of job performance, the study found. One key reason why is that they're proactive in shaping their own careers and speaking up about strategies for organizational change.
Interestingly, the authors also note that once extroverts receive some recognition, others are more likely to praise them highly.
Extroverted men earn significantly more than their introverted peers
This study jibes with other research on the benefits associated with extroversion. For example, extroverts are more likely to become leaders and to lead effectively, according to research by Ohio State University professor Timothy Judge.
And Miriam Gensowski, assistant professor of economics at the University of Copenhagen, wrote in the Harvard Business Review that her research suggests a man who is average on extroversion will earn $600,000 more in his lifetime than a man who is in the bottom 20% of extroversion.
Yet some research suggests there are career advantages to different personality types, such as an "ambivert," or someone who can alternate between extroversion and introversion depending on the context. One 2013 study, published in the journal Psychological Science, found that call-center representatives who scored in between extrovert and introvert on a personality test brought in the most revenue.
Meanwhile, the publication of Susan Cain's book "Quiet" in 2012 kicked off a wave of interest in the power of introverts to be successful employees, leaders, and innovators. In 2015, Cain partnered with LinkedIn to launch the Quiet Ambassadors program, to educate people about how different personalities work best -- and to dispel the myth that introversion is a barrier to professional success.
It's also important to note that the introvert-extrovert scale represents just 20% of the Big Five personality traits, so there's a lot more to a person to than how much social stimulation they need or want. Psychologists also argue that focusing on traits themselves may be a problematic way to look at personality -- who we are in a given moment is remarkably dependent on the situation, our goals, and our life stories.
Be wary of automatically favoring extroverts at work
If you're here looking for a concrete takeaway, it's hardly that you should endeavor to radically change your personality in order to thrive at work. A better bet is to consider letting your boss and coworkers know you're not the type to dominate a staff meeting or network your way to a promotion. They might have some ideas about other ways for you to achieve your career goals.
And if you're a people manager, be aware of the fact that you might be rewarding your reports for classic extroverted behaviors -- and try to broaden your understanding of what defines a great employee.