Introversion and extraversion are an important thing to consider in coaching.
1. You need to know your own type, whether there is a clear preference or somewhere more along the midline.
2. You need to know your clients type, whether there is a clear preference or somewhere more along the midline.
Introvert coach and extravert client:
Extraverts want the other to engage and talk, because they themselves think out loud. Despite their willingness to dominate the conversation, or having a discomfort with silence, they need your input and questions. For the sake of rapport, and meeting your client in their map of the world, you need to go there first. Meaning, you have to share. If you don’t cut an extravert client off, they may just continue talking. When cutting them off at the right moment, and appropriately they do not take offense. Many introverts use a softer tone, it is wiser for you to increase the volume of your voice, to match that of the extravert client. Including, the speed and rhythm of their talking. You can also use pacing and leading with a client, if you think it is in their benefit to listen, pause, or slow down. Keep in mind an extravert gains energy by being around other people, so be prepared to be able to end the session with them professionally. Talking to someone in their environment or activities with others are a good idea for tasking. Sometimes an extravert assumes that talking to an introvert means someone is hiding something, or that they are shy. While this doesn’t have to be the case.
Introvert coach and introvert client:
There is a tendency with two introverts that no one takes the lead, so you as a coach need to step up to the plate. Start sharing first, create a lot of rapport. It is still OK to have a lot of silences, in fact be sure to have them as both you and the client likely need time to reflect. Introverts tend to think first, then speak. Introvert clients don’t like to be put on the spot, so tasks to take home, or thoughts to reflect on between coaching sessions are an extremely good idea. Also I find writing, journalling and reading an extremely good idea for tasking. Some introverts struggle being in a world with extraverts where it concerns communication skills. It is an extremely good idea to educate yourself, as to how to teach a client to communicate better. This can even be practiced as part of the coaching session.
Extravert coach and introvert client:
First of all LISTEN! Which is actively listening, not just waiting for the introvert to finish speaking and meanwhile already thinking about your reply. Allow for silence and reflection, even if it makes you uncomfortable. Often times it is better to send the client home to think about something. Keep in mind your introvert client loses energy from being around other people, so be sure to have a lot of rapport, and meet them in their map of the word. Closely watch, what energizes your clients. Some introverts prefer a subtle calm introverted approach, others love more words as long as you allow them time to think. You need to make them able to start to share information voluntarily. Keep in mind that silence isn’t consent! Also in designing tasks for your clients, alone activities are usually preferred.
Extravert coach and extravert client:
Be willing to listen AND interject. But be sure in terms of the amount of words, volume and content it doesn’t end in a competition. It would actually help you if you spoke less than you are used to. So being strategic in your choice of words is important. Do understand that it is about the client, not about you. As you both like to think out loud, you have to be more deliberate in your choice of words. In other words carefully think first and then speak. You may have an inspring coaching session last forever, as both of you are likely to gain energy from the conversation. A session however must end, and be sure that the client understands that you are committing to whatever official time frame the coaching session you have scheduled fir. It is easy for a client to assume, that your coaching sessions always last double the time. Be sure to involve them in their tasks in activities with others, as too much time alone reflecting on their life may cause them to go dark. Some extraverts need to be alone to ground and balance out, so keep that in mind.
Very timely article. Thank you. I guess we do get what we need…