Feb. 13, 2023

Can introverts and extroverts thrive... together?

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Ofosu and Leah talk with Olivia Johnson, Senior Employee Success Manager at Elevate Labs, the company that created the Balance app. She's the expert planner behind the company meetup that's brought everyone together—even Ofosu and Leah—in Los Cabos, Mexico. They discuss how to plan big events with introverts and extroverts in mind, and they share expert tips for providing comfort to both personality types in work settings and personal relationships.

▶️ You can watch the latest episode on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/h9lWD3_r0Sc

📚 More about Olivia:

Olivia Johnson is the Senior Employee Success Manager at Elevate Labs and an expert at making all personality types feel comfortable at company-wide events. Case in point: After the last meetup, 100% of survey respondents felt more bonded with their co-workers.

🎧 What’s in this episode:

  • (00:00) Meet Olivia Johnson
  • (01:53) Leah's experience as an introvert working in tech
  • (03:18) Olivia's experience planning big events
  • (04:51) Introverts vs. extroverts
  • (07:05) The power of perspective
  • (08:33) Why setting expectations early is important
  • (09:37) "It's a social marathon, not a sprint"
  • (10:22) Ofosu's experience as an extrovert
  • (13:11) Introversion and extroversion in romantic relationships
  • (15:18) The social pressure to be extroverted
  • (16:27) The pain of small talk
  • (16:58) Tips for providing comfort to introverts during social gatherings
  • (18:05) Making space for all personality types

🧘 About Balance: Well Balanced is co-hosted by Ofosu and Leah, Balance’s Co-Heads of Meditation. Balance is a highly personalized meditation and sleep app that's been named Google's App of the Year and Apple's App of the Day. Completely free for the entire first year, Balance is helping 4 million+ people around the world improve their stress, sleep, focus, and mood. Unlock your free year of Balance today by downloading it from the App Store or Play Store: https://balanceapp.sng.link/Arat1/h3qp/icji


Ofosu: What's up y'all? I am Ofosu Jones Quartey. 

Leah: And I am Leah Santa Cruz. And we are the meditation coaches on the Balance app. And this is our weekly show Well-Balanced, where we explore ways to live a healthier and a happier life. 

Ofosu: And we are still here in lovely San Jose Del Cabo. At the Annual Balance Meetup.

And we are super lucky to be joined by the amazing person who put this all together. Olivia Johnson. She is the Senior Employee Success Manager at Balance. Did I say that right? 

Olivia: Yeah. Senior Employee Success Manager. You got it. 

Ofosu: That's amazing. She's an expert. Putting on events where both introverts and extroverts can feel comfortable and be themselves. And, uh, I'm super interested in talking to you about that. So welcome, Olivia. 

Olivia: Thank you. Yeah, so excited to be here chatting with you both.

Ofosu: So you've got the Balance team here. You got all these amazing, talented, very like, cool people. So yeah, you were able to pull all these people here together and arrange an event that keeps their introversion and extroversion in mind, which is super cool. 

Olivia: Yeah, totally. I mean, we have such a wide range of personalities and, you know, things that people like or would prefer to do, and so, uh, our goal is definitely to make sure that everybody has a really good time. So we definitely wanna keep those different preferences in mind as we plan a big event such as this. 

Leah: Yeah. Well, you've done a great job so far, is what I can say, and that's why we brought you here today because we wanna dig deeper into that brain of yours and figure out how we can pull out some of those juicy tidbits into our own life because whoever's listening to this, you are either an introvert or an extrovert. You're somewhere in between you, somewhere on the spectrum, but you can learn something about this, uh, and how we can better operate in the world. And it reminds me a lot of the days when I used to work in tech at Microsoft and at the time, I really identified more with being an introvert.

In fact, I took the Myers-Brigg personality test and I always was more introverted. But now if I took it today, I scale more on the extroversion. That's a different conversation. But at the time, I was surrounded by all these extroverts on this advertising team, and they were so good at presenting and being out there in front of people, and my job was more centered around data and behind the scenes support. And I remember coming to my boss and saying, I know everybody expects me to be an extrovert here, but I'm actually an introvert and I have a lot of special talents that I can bring to the table. ] And just to remember that like there's, there's importance for everyone and there's not one better quality.

Whether you're an introvert or extrovert, they have their own genius. 

Olivia: Right. Yeah. And I'd say big events, especially when you're bringing large groups of people together, company events, they generally lend themselves really well to the extroverted personality, and it's kind of what it's traditionally geared towards.

And so it is important to take that into account and to facilitate and provide spaces for everyone to thrive, you know, regardless of kind of how they operate in the world. So, I totally agree with that. 

Leah: So being the expert on this and putting events together where you keep all that in mind, can you tell us a little bit more about, um, you know, what was in the process of making this an experience that would be comfortable and allow everyone to thrive?

Olivia: Certainly, yeah, so a big part of it starts back at kind of the origination and the planning of the event and thinking thoughtfully through the scheduling of it. And so something that I've learned through the process of putting on a number of these events, so some hard, hard won lessons here, but is providing ample transition and break time throughout the day, especially with big groups.

Everything takes a bit longer than you would think. Um, and there's always hiccups that come in the way. So you wanna make sure that, uh, you have transition times. So between activities, people don't feel rushed. They can take a break, they can take a breath and kind of mentally reset. And especially for introverts who, you know, would like in need some time by themselves, in between some of these bigger group events where they're asked to participate and asked to engage with a bunch of different people who, you know, they may or may not know very well, uh, we wanna give them extended breaks as well. 

So even though, uh, you know, with my extroverted personality, I might wanna pack every little minute of the day and try and make the most, you know, squeeze every last drop out, uh, intentionally building in opportunities for folks to go to their room or, we're at a beach, so spend some time on the beach, um, you know, away from, from everybody else has been really helpful for them to be able to then show up to the next session refreshed, recharged, and ready to reengage in the way that we're asking them to. 

Leah: I think that's a good segue into actually explaining what is an introvert and extrovert. Because if you're listening, you're not really sure, well, I don't know what, what I am. 

Um, back in the, the twenties, uh, a famous psychologist Carl Young, he, he sort of coined the term introverts and extroverts to describe different personality styles and the extroverts, you know, we tend to think of as this, the more life of the party. The boisterous like friendly person that's outgoing and, and chatting up there, giving the presentations seamlessly effortless. Um, but they tend to be more concerned about what's happening in any external world outside of them. Whereas an introvert, tends to be more concerned about, um, focused on like thoughts and feelings and moods that's happening internally, and a lot more reflection and analysis and maybe listening.

Ofosu: Uh, one way that I've heard introversion and extroversion described as it relates to social interactions is that an extrovert will have a social interaction and feel really energized from it, come away feeling like powered up. Um, and an introvert will have a social interaction and feel like they've spent energy and, and, and that they need to recharge. 

And so it also has to do with just how we relate to social circumstances energetically. So, I mean, just, just a, just a realtime anecdote. This morning I did a really short connection presentation with the group and the check-in that you had with me ahead of time was, I haven't had a check-in like that before where it's like, you know, you know, we want to just be mindful that we have introverts and extroverts in our, in our group. And so whatever activity you are thinking of doing, just try to keep that in mind so that, so that people aren't too far, um, out on the edge of either spectrum. And I thought it was a really compassionate consideration to reflect on. And, um, I'm interested in knowing any of the, the, the lessons that you've picked up over time to make this, uh, such a nuanced, um, approach to team building, et cetera? 

Olivia: Yes, definitely. And that's, that's perfect cause my response is going to be, that's something that I had to learn over time because I am naturally an extrovert. I do draw energy from the folks around me and I find it just really fun to be on all the time.

But gaining that perspective through feedback that folks gave me of like, hey, that was kind of a lot. Hey, I really need a break, over time and being like, oh shoot, I'm sorry that you felt that way. Yeah, like I was having a great time . I didn't realize this would be, you know, overwhelming or stressful or, you know, taxing to you in the way that it's not for me.

And so it was through asking for and receiving sometimes critical feedback over time and like having that gift to understand the perspective of, um, the various team members, um, and how they were experiencing the things that I was, you know, always coming with the intention of having them have a great time and be able to bond and connect.

But sometimes it was, you know, going overboard. Um, and so, yeah. Definitely a lesson learned of, um, you know, how people will receive an activity can vary and let's be thoughtful about that. Yeah. And let's, um, you know, let let other folks know who are gonna be facilitating that this is something that we wanna keep in mind and we wanna make sure, you know, of course, provide opportunities to, uh, take steps outside of our comfort zone and, and expand and, um, you know, press into these different things, but also be thoughtful of how we curate the experience so that everyone is able to, you know, be the best version of themselves in these experiences that we offer them.

So that was definitely one of the things that I learned, um, but another big one was setting expectations early and letting folks know what to expect. So this starts before we even show up to the meetup, uh, or really any event of letting people know the agenda in advance as far as in advance as I know it, which of course is a lot of moving parts, so we have to be a little bit flexible and set expectations that things might change over time.

Um, but letting folks know, you know, this is what to expect on this day. This is approximately how long we're going to be doing it. These are the breaks that you can look forward to if you step away. Um, so that way they can mentally prepare for what their day will look like. 

Leah: This is the exact same thing that they tell to parents of toddlers that they need to describe to their toddler what to expect ahead.

Yeah, because transitions are tough for toddlers and they're tough for adults too. 

Olivia: Especially when it's a full day event and you're tired and you're hungry and you know, you have all these other things going on and you know, if you have family or other obligations outside work that you need to check in on and knowing when you can, you know, take time out for that.

So lots to consider. So it starts there, communicating as early as possible so people, um, can prepare for that. Uh, and then it's also setting expectations when we arrive, uh, and having the conversation with folks like, hey, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Take the time that you need. These are your breaks.

Please use them. Don't feel the social pressure, um, to always be around people unless you want to be around people, then be around people, but letting them choose their own adventure. I'm being very, uh, encouraging of that, of people doing what they need to do. I think that's important. 

Leah: I like that as an affirmation. This is a social marathon. 

Ofosu: I feel like there's implications in this approach that can be condensed into just our, like our more intimate relationships, whether that's friends, whether that's with our, with our romantic partners. I mean, for me, I am, I'm a pretty classic extrovert, although, I do have a very deep streak of introversion.

But the other day, the, uh, the Amazon delivery guy came, dropped off a package and I walked out of the house and asked him how his day was going. Cause he's new , you know? So I was like, you, I, I know you're new. I know this is a new route for you. How's it going? Like, are you, you know, and I walked in and my wife was just looking at me and she was like, and that is the difference. That is what I would, I would never do what you just did. You just went out of your way to check in with a stranger, like, you know, and I was like, oh, well, why not? You know, he's brand new. He's, you know, this, this has gotta be, but she's like, it's not that I don't care about what his experience is.

It's just, I just wouldn't think to ask. I wouldn't, you know, think to walk out of the house and, and strike up a conversation with a stranger. So I guess I'm, and so my wife is definitely like way more introverted. And when it really caused, issues in our relationship when we first met, because of the social pressure for extroversion, she just wasn't like a huge talker.

You know, she's, she's a generally quiet person, so I, you know, friends that I had who were used to me, , you know, and then I think even my parents were probably my dad more than anybody was like, you know, this person isn't going out of their way to be like performatively. You know? Uh, they weren't used to that.

Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. This is years ago now, and I feel like there's the conversation about introversion as an equally valid way of being in the world is much more prevalent. But Leah do you feel like you're an extrovert? 

Leah: I am sort of teeter tottery. Like if there was a zero to 100 scale and hundreds extrovert and zero is total introvert, I'm like 55.

Ofosu: Yeah. Cuz you start, because you started on one end and now, okay. 

Leah: Yeah, I was over here and now I'm a little bit over here, but I, I can easily teeter-totter onto the other side, but I think that's what's, you know, it's, it's sort of a, because of the requirement of the work that I do because I was so much of an introvert that I thought I could never be a meditation teacher because it requires me to get up in front of people and lead class, lead a group of people. And that was terrifying to me. So I had to really overcome and step outside of my comfort zone so much that I ended up expanding my comfort zone over time, which allowed me to then, over into the extrovert group, but it wasn't without a lot of terror. And, and work.

And it took years in the process. But you know, it's so interesting that you bring that up about your wife because I see so many couples where one is more introverted and one is more extroverted. I see that more often than two introverts together or two extroverts. Yeah. Although I certainly see that too.

But I think there's something about like the balance that it brings us that is. The, the two poles that attract one another, you. 

Olivia: I, I can relate. My husband is definitely introverted and it's, it's a great balance, right? It is. When we go to the restaurant, I'll order, and he doesn't have to worry about-

Ofosu: make conversation with the, with the server.

Olivia: Yeah. Need to talk to someone. No big deal. Right. And we, we like get each other and, you know, but he also provides this like calm, introspective kind of piece of our, our relationship that maybe, you know, I wouldn't naturally incline toward when we're at home together. So, yeah, I, I get that. I, I like it.

Ofosu: I had an, I had an experience with an extroverted girlfriend once, and it was, it was a disaster.

It, it, it, it was just hell every time like, whose line is it now? Nobody wants to shut up everybody. We, we were just both on go. It, it was exhausting. 

Leah: And then you're like, with your wife now, you're like, thank God. 

Ofosu: Thank, God!. She's also like, thank, she's like, I always, I'm asking like, am I taking up too much air?

She was like, someone's got to take the air up. It's not gonna be me. So I'm, I act I actually really appreciate that you're willing to take up the airtime when we're out and about and stuff like that. 

Leah: Yeah. It's funny cuz when my husband and I are at home, he's super extroverted and I'm more, I'm, I'm in between, like I said, I'm like right there.

But when we were at home, I'm the chatty one talking all the time. And he's like more of this like, chill listening. And then when we go out in public, he gets lit up by, he doesn't like to be at home. He is not a homebody. And I can stay at home all the time. But when we go out in public, he's definitely more of like that life of the party.

Yeah. Really outgoing lot. Um, and I, I tone it down a little bit more usually, but it's, yeah. It's funny to find that balance. Anyhow, we got on a tangent, but I also think that there's a lot of pressure for introverts to become more extroverted, like from society and it's starting to shift. 

You know, um, but I, I do feel that it's, it's definitely rewarded to be an extrovert, at least in a lot of career environments. Um, but there's so many people that find more, uh, that find, you know, certain careers, you really find a lot of success with the introversion, like, like engineering roles or like roles where there requires a lot of analysis and reflection and listening.

Um, I'm, I'm curious to ask you another question, Olivia. Um, what would you say to someone that say, like, going on a date, or having a dinner party, how could they make, how could they take some tips from you to, uh, set the tone to provide comfort for people that are a little bit opposite of them? 

Olivia: Sure. Well, I think for things like dates, at least my experience, not being an introvert, but being married to one and having a lot of friends who are, is the one-on-one connection generally is, uh, you know, a better environment and more conducive to having those connections.

But, um, another piece of that is being able to, go one level deeper. So it's the small talk from what I understand, that can be really taxing for me. 

Ofosu: Excruciating.

Olivia: There you go. All right. So thinking through maybe just spending a few minutes and advancing through, like what do I wanna talk about?

You know, could be a hobby of yours or passion or, uh, you know, if you, if they're friends with you, checking in on their family, right? Something that, uh, feels comfortable and feels good, but that you can chat about that's not just like, oh, the weather. Or like, oh, you know, what did you do today? Um, so taking it one step, a step deeper, and then for bigger groups, I would say, being thoughtful of those conversations.

If you're the one hosting and you know, most of the people who are coming thinking through what are thoughtful introductions that I can, you know, pair people off well, I think that they'll get along, they'll have things in common that I can kind of, you know, kickstart for them that way. It's, you know, not the onus isn't on the introvert to go in, kind of break into these new environments.

Um, and then also potentially having other activities. I mean, I know I mostly have the work context that I've been sharing about, but uh, even if it's something like, food. So you have something in your, with your hands so you're not just like standing there or, um, something artistic, something to do with your hands.

That way there's not the social pressure to constantly be talking with everyone around you. I love that you can be in comfort together. Sometimes talking, sometimes it's focusing on your activity. Um, we found that to be really successful in drawing both introverts and extroverts to kind of come together. 

Leah: I like that.

Um, it's like, hmm, I know I'm gonna go on a date with an introvert. Maybe I'm gonna take 'em to this painting class where you paint by numbers and have wine. Talk when you feel ready to, and then just be involved in your painting. Yeah. Take some little 

Ofosu: off. Yeah. I think it's commendable that we are making, and specifically you are making deliberate space for all of these various personality types because there are people who are on the extreme ends of the spectrum, and then people who like sort of move in, in between. And, um, it's a, it's a really important shift in culture building. You know, and, and it, whether it's corporate culture or just our wider culture, because for me, as a big personality in the meditation world, I will just have to let people know, like, okay, yes, I'm gonna be guiding your meditation and yes, I can take it to this level, but I'm probably gonna come and like ramp the energy up a little bit, you know?

And that's okay too. That's another valid form of experience. You don't often think about extroverts being shamed, but in, in the solemn. In the solemn halls of the mindfulness world, the extroverted personality, the high extroverted personality is not always valued. Um, and so all of these prejudices, these unconscious biases that are, um, embedded in various cultures, when we examine them, realize that they are arbitrary and harmful, and then do something about them, which as gentle as giving people time to make transitions, you know, I think, I think is great. So this, I'm having an awesome time here. And you, you're the architect, so thank you so much. Wonderful. 

Olivia: I'm so glad to, to hear it. It's been a, a pleasure to put on and a pleasure to chat with you both.

Leah: Well, it's been a really awesome conversation, and if you're listening to this and you haven't watched us yet, please check us out on YouTube. And you can see Olivia's lovely face, as well as Ofosu's and mine, and you can find it under the Balance channel. Uh, there's a link to today's episode in the show notes, and if you are listening to us on Spotify, you can actually see the video playing there.

Ofosu: It's very cool. The Spotify thing is very cool. I'm still hung up on how cool that is. Anyway, if you like our show, please shout it from the rooftops. Or if you're an introvert, please send an email, um, to, to, or text to your friends and family. And just let folks know word of mouth is a huge way that you know, people become aware of, uh, new podcasts and 

Leah: Yeah. And we'll be back next week with another great conversation. Yeah. And until then, have a beautiful week. 

Ofosu: Don't forget to be kind to yourself. Take care. Peace. Bye.