​Last week, we wrote about productivity personalities, how to feed strengths and compensate for weaknesses, and how these ideas have played out in our Evergreen Team dynamics. In this post, we’re going to look at social energy and communication styles, and the ways doing all this work around who you are and who you’re working with can help you work more compassionately and productively as an individual and on a team.

Social Energy

Way more popular than productivity personalities, is diving into the concept of being “introverted” vs “extroverted.”

Once Shelby realized that she is an extraverted worker, everything changed. At first, she was thrilled at the prospect of working completely alone. The work she was doing at the time was extremely intellectually stimulating, and was exactly the kind of material she’d hide in the closet for hours on end to enjoy in silence.

But after weeks of focusing alone on a project, she felt like she was going insane. Even with plenty of socializing outside of work, it wasn’t enough. Working alone was miserable. ​

Then, during an inner work journaling exercise something she wrote down hit her like a lightning bolt: if working alone was not life-giving, why not set a boundary to no longer accept projects that would have her alone for hours and hours on end? Why not prioritize work that would connect her with an energizing team?

It was a pivotal moment for Shelby and paved the way for a series of decisions that ultimately resulted in the Evergreen Planner finally getting what it needed to flourish.

So ask yourself: Do you get your energy from working primarily alone or in a team? How can you choose a new path that energizes you instead of one that depletes you?

Communication Styles

Whether you are energized by working solo or in a team, you’ll always need to communicate with others.

It really helps to understand that there are two types of communicators:

  • The external processor needs to talk it out (or write it out) in order to process something. She will work through issues best during a conversation, and often times the position that she seems to be taking dogmatically at the beginning actually evolves during the conversation, and by the end, can be radically different. This can be very confusing to others, but it’s just because very little processing of information (which is where the consideration of different perspectives, the reasoning, the prioritizing, and the negotiating come into play) happened before the conversation was ever had.
  • The internal processor operates, in many respects, in just the opposite way. She will be very hesitant to make a decision or give feedback on an idea without first being able to take time alone to think and process. Overall, her communication may seem minimal, which can be confusing to others who want immediate feedback on an idea or project. Her silence may be perceived as negative feedback, when really it is just her hesitancy in offering any opinion before she has considered every angle in silence and solitude.

Ask yourself: Which one resonates most with you? Are you an internal or external processor?

Like most things, being an external or internal processor has it’s strengths and weaknesses. However, there are specific practices and habits that can help you both honor who you have been made to be, while also honoring the needs of others who are different from you.

  • If you’re an external processor (like Shelby), a trick to stop confusing others or making conflicts worse is to journal out your thought processes before engaging in conversation. Writing can be just as effective as talking something out, but it will help you to objectively look at your own reasoning before someone else has to call you on your own inconsistencies. An effective journaling habit will make your communications with others much more efficient, effective, and persuasive. However, because talking it out is often easier and more enjoyable, it also helps to designate certain (willing) people in your life to be the recipients of your brainstorming sessions. Tell them in advance that you’re calling them specifically to bounce ideas off of them, talk through a problem, or just get thoughts out of your brain where they’re clogging everything up.
  • If you’re an internal processor (like McCauley), a key to avoiding frustration with others is to give them the assurance that you’re thinking over the things they’ve brought up and that you will get back to them with a conclusion. Then give yourself space to think through the issues in silence. You don’t have to answer them in that moment, even if they’re pressuring you to. You don’t have to go against your gut if you really just need the time to process alone before making a decision. However, keep yourself accountable to doing the work needed to be able to give the feedback that others need from you in a timeline that makes sense for the project or decision. Communicate when they can expect an answer from you.

Do the Inner Work

It can take some journaling and discussions with loved ones in order to figure out some of these things for yourself, but it’s worth the effort.

When you bring other personality dynamics to the table, the discussions for how to understand and mutually support one another deepen in complexity. But we’ve found these musings and discussions to be exceedingly fruitful in our homes, our businesses, and in our communities.

Try pulling out your planner and journaling through these questions:

  • Are you an extravert in your work, or an introvert? Do you need to spend time with a team in order to be energized? Or do you need to make sure you’re getting a lot of time to work alone?
  • Are you an external or an internal processor? What about your spouse? Your closest coworker? How can you support them better in their communication needs?
  • Are you okay with leaning into who God uniquely made you to be? Do you think it’s better to have different personality traits? Why or why not? Are you open to the idea that, as long as you’re within God’s ethical guidelines, your unique working personality is actually a specifically designed blessing for His Kingdom?


Don’t forget that in addition to taking time to work through the above questions, we also offer an incredibly simple quiz to help you determine your productivity personality!