You and your boss get along fine. You work together well, but you just don’t feel like you know him at all. No one on your team does. As soon as a meeting is over, he disappears into his office, closes the door, and doesn’t come out all afternoon. He never takes up anyone’s invitations to grab a bite to eat for lunch. He seems to be avoiding you, and it’s hard not to take it personally.
Does this sound familiar? Does your boss come off as disinterested or un-involved? It’s likely that your boss is not avoiding you. He’s simply highly introverted, and it can make for an awkward work dynamic.
What Does It Mean to Be High on the Introversion Scale?
Introversion and Extroversion are revealed by the Highlands Ability Battery (HAB), and are two of the pieces that define your Personal Style. Introversion and Extroversion are on opposite ends of a continuum that show how individuals react to the people around them and with whom they work—what energizes them and what drains them. It shows how people prefer to think through or process new information.
No one shows traits of Introversion or Extroversion all the time, and everyone shows some characteristics of both.
If you are high on the Introverted end of the scale, you are likely self-energized and a reflective thinker. Conversely, if you are high on the Extroverted end, you are likely energized by interacting with others and thinking out loud.
So How Does This Affect Your Boss?
Being Introverted is not a bad thing. After all, leaders who operate mainly as Introverts are great listeners and internal processors—you won’t hear every step of their thought process. Their reflective thinking allows ideas and solutions to percolate up from more Extroverted employees. Their Introversion creates a space for other people to show their abilities and express their ideas.
Here’s where things can get difficult. Highly-Introverted leaders tend to lose energy when they are forced to spend continuous chunks of time with large groups of people, so they tend to find a full day of social interaction exhausting. They tend to quietly process information in their heads. They think through their ideas and options before saying much about them to others. Leaders are often asked to give their opinions on the spot—this can be challenging and daunting for an Introvert.
What does all of this mean? It means that your boss isn’t avoiding you because you’re you; she’s avoiding you because you’re part of a group and she needs to get away from the group to recharge and mull over all of the ideas from the day.
How to Handle Your Standoffish, Highly-Introverted Boss
Understand that your boss needs time and space away from the group to do his job well. Your boss is likely not avoiding you.
If you have important questions or issues that need addressing, rather than calling, try sending an email, so he’ll have time to develop his response. Most importantly, don’t take it personally.
A mix of Introverts and Extroverts makes your team dynamic and more effective. Finding out where everyone falls on the Introvert/Extrovert scale is easier when your entire team takes the HAB. It will reveal communication, learning, and other practices essential to workplace success, and it will help you reach a greater understanding of your boss so that you can all be more productive (and a little less awkward).