Create a workplace where individuals across the personality spectrum can prosper.
NOVEMBER 2016 | BY ERICA CHRISTOFFER
It’s a common perception that the vast majority of real estate professionals are boisterous, assertive extroverts that thrive in social situations. But in reality, the agents' temperaments run the gamut, from extroverts to introverts with a large number of ambiverts in between, meaning people who have qualities of both. If you’re a broker, you likely see these distinct personality types in your office—and you should try to make sure all are happy and successful.
During the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Orlando, Susan Cain, author of the bestselling book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, presented ways brokers can set up a work environment and office culture that allows extroverts, introverts, and ambiverts to thrive.
For example, in a typical meeting you probably have three people who do 70 percent of the talking, Cain says. Data out of Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management shows this is a tendency of human beings. Extrovert Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, hired a coach to help her speak less and listen more in meetings. So if you’re an extrovert, Cain says, try to be more cognizant of how often you’re speaking and whether you’re creating a forum where everyone feels comfortable sharing ideas. There’s a danger of group conformity when one point of view is always presented, she says.
Take Cain's personality test to find out if you are an extrovert, introvert, or somewhere between: quietrev.com/the-introvert-test.
Often the most creative ideas come from thinking and working in solitude—for all personality types. “Sometimes when you need to make a big decision or figure out what you believe, you need that solitude,” Cain says. So if you want to conduct a brainstorming meeting at your office, you might be better off having your team members brainstorm on their own before the meeting. Also, people who speak up first often throw out the anchoring ideas of meeting. For brokers, try to rotate who kicks off a meeting, and for introverts, ask them to prepare some things to say before the meeting so they’re ready to speak first.
Quiet salesmanship is probably less understood by brokers, or even by introverted agents themselves, Cain says. But their tactics can be compelling and successful. Douglas Conant, former CEO of Campbell Soup Co., was open about his "introvertedness." One tactic he used to connect with people was writing personal letters of thanks to employees at the company when they did something above and beyond. He wrote 30,000 letters during his time as CEO.
Your agents who attend networking events might approach it in one of two ways depending on whether they’re introverts or extroverts. While extroverts may try to meet as many people as they can, working the room like a social butterfly, introverts may want to focus on making a few meaningful connections. “Look for people you have connections with,” Cain recommends to introverts. “If you do this over a period a years, you’ll find you have an amazing and powerful network.”
Lastly, the office environment also has a bearing on the success of extroverts and introverts. Extroverts tend to do well when there’s background noise, while introverts tend to work better in a quieter environment. “There isn’t such a thing as a one-size-fits-all work environment,” Cain says. But brokers who want their agents to do their best should strive to provide a workplace where people can control the environment directly around them.
Erica Christoffer is a consulting editor for REALTOR® Magazine. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.