Skillsoft Blog

Becoming Extraordinary: How “Genius of Opposites” Do It

By: Jennifer Kahnweiler

Have you ever worked with someone who you couldn’t connect with or even drove you crazy? I will bet that sometimes that person was of opposite temperament – an introvert to your extrovert or vice versa.  Misunderstandings between introverts and extroverts can lead to frustration, hurt feelings and often, failure.

Prior to becoming an author and speaker, I was a training manager in a consumer products company. My assistant, Amy, was an introvert. I expected her to share my energy and pace as we rolled out some initiatives. Amy was low key, calm, and didn’t reveal much about what she was thinking. I really wanted her to share my excitement about our new innovative training programs. But, she didn’t say very much and because I didn’t understand introverts  I expected her to express her enthusiasm the way I did.

So what did I do? I revved up my energy, hoping she would do the same. Unfortunately, the more I expected her to mirror my temperament, the less she did.  The result was that our communication disconnect divide just got wider as time went on.

Unfortunately, Amy and I never did find that sweet spot of collaboration but this frustrating experience was a pivotal one for me. It taught me that partnerships between introverts and extroverts can go off the rails if not carefully nurtured. The real key is to not focus on differences but on the results you are trying to achieve.

My latest research demonstrates that successful opposites take a series of intentional steps in their partnerships. The Genius of Opposites Process is based on these steps and is an easy to remember ABCDE formula.

Here it is:

A= Accept the Alien – You can’t change your opposite, but you can try better to understand them. Once you are able to accept this fact, you are in for much less stress.

B= Bring on the Battles – See disagreements as necessary to arriving at better outcomes because you challenge each other to come up with better solutions together than you would alone.

C= Cast the Character – Know each person’s role in a scenario and cast him or her so that you bring out your opposite’s best in that role. Opposites share the credit no matter what role they take.

D=Destroy the Dislike – When you respect each other and act like friends, you can talk openly and have fun.

E= Each Can’t Offer Everything – Know that each one of you is incapable of offering everything and that for true diversity you must work in concert to provide the widest range of options to others.

Both of you need to commit to taking a look at what is working and where you are misfiring. Then you can make adjustments and fine-tune your partnership. To learn where your relationship’s strengths and weaknesses lie, take the quiz here on our website.

In keeping your eye on the common outcomes you are trying to achieve, you will end up learning from and appreciating your opposite more than you ever thought possible.

Learn more about managing introverts and extroverts and register for the upcoming webinar with Skillsoft on Wed. Aug. 19 at 12 p.m. EDT.

About Jennifer Kahnweiler

A thought leader and global speaker, Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, (pronounced Con-Why-Ler) Ph.D., CSP  is known as “the champion for introverts.”  She tackles the topic of introvert – extrovert partnerships in her new book, The Genius of Opposites. This first-of-its-kind book provides readers with tools for how these two personalities can achieve extraordinary results when they understand each other and work together. An expert on introverted leadership, Kahnweiler has written the bestsellers The Introverted Leader and Quiet Influence. She has spoken at hundreds of major organizations, including GE, NASA, and the CDC. Visit and follow her on Twitter at @jennkahnweiler.

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