by Lyle Daly | Updated July 17, 2021 - First published on Oct. 20, 2019
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You'd probably love to make more money -- and this personality trait could be the key.
By the time you were a teenager, you likely knew the difference between extroverts and introverts and which category was a closer fit for your personality. They're two of the most well-known personality types, and it's not too difficult to figure out whether you're more of a sociable extrovert or a reserved introvert.
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When we studied the link between personality traits and financial habits, we used IBM's Big Five personality types (agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, openness to experience, and neuroticism) to better understand people's financial outlook.
The biggest salary difference is seen in extraversion. Here are the average annual salaries of extroverts (those in the 90th percentile or above in terms of extraversion) and introverts (those in the 20th percentile or below):
That's $12,700 more earned per year by extroverts. Over a 40-year career, that difference would result in extroverts earning $508,000 more. That makes them far more likely to build savings and prepare a nest egg for retirement. But what is it that leads to such a discrepancy?
By looking at what makes extroverts and introverts different, we can get an idea of what it is that helps extroverts earn more. Two attributes stand out in this regard: sociability and assertiveness.
Since extroverts are outgoing and get energized when they're around other people, they have an easier time building new relationships. They're natural networkers, which helps with discovering new job opportunities. It also makes them much better suited to dazzle during job interviews, which is something introverts can find difficult because they have a harder time talking to new people.
Extroverts also tend to be assertive, a characteristic that comes in handy for increasing income. Due to that assertiveness, extroverts are more likely to negotiate a higher salary at a new job or ask for a raise at their current position.
It's not that introverts are incapable of networking or negotiating a raise. The difference is that extroverts are more comfortable doing both, because it comes naturally to them. Introverts often feel awkward meeting new people or asking for more money (and I say this as an introvert who knows exactly how awkward those situations can be).
For introverts, this probably hasn't been the most fun read. But these are just averages, and as an introvert, there are still great ways to maximize your earning potential.
Use your introversion to your advantage. Extroverts may earn more on average, but that doesn't mean extraversion is always beneficial. Many jobs are more suited to introverts, so if you're not set in your career path yet, it could be smart to look for a position that fits your natural talents.
Examples of jobs where introverts can excel are those that involve working independently or interacting with others one-on-one. Anything that involves listening is also a good fit for introverts, who tend to have better listening skills than extroverts.
Work on your weaknesses. Extroverts and introverts both have their own unique strengths, and similarly, they also both have areas where they struggle. For introverts, difficulties that can affect them professionally often include meeting new people and working with large groups.
If these aren't your strong suits, it's important to recognize that they're both skills you can develop. You can read about techniques that will help you be more comfortable in those situations, practice these types of situations with friends, and even get professional coaching.
Like it or not, extroverts have an advantage when it comes to earning money. Several characteristics that extroverts have in spades also tend to be highly valued by colleagues and managers.
Introversion isn't a curse, though. We introverts have plenty of skills of our own that can make us valuable and help us get ahead professionally. What matters is finding out how to apply those skills and working on our weaknesses so they don't hold back our careers.
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