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Introversion & Extroversion: quickly improve your meetings

By July 28, 2014Teamwork

Introversion & Extroversion: quickly improve your meetings

We all love a good meeting; where the energy is good, people are contributing, and the pace is the way we like it. But often two people in the same meeting can have very different opinions about whether a meeting is “good” or not.

There are certain rules for any good meeting; good agenda, people are listening and talking about issues of importance to the team, things are moving forward, the participants are involved…

But what is the difference that makes the difference? Often it is this…

Game of snooker

For some a meeting is a bit like a game of snooker (or pool).

You have your turn. Then I have my turn. I have time to think and can speak without feeling rushed. And then it’s your turn again. And so on.

For others it’s more like a game of ping pong or table tennis. Ideas and thoughts are batted back between us quickly and frequently, bounced off each other, back and forth at an energising and fast pace. Sometimes shots are taken on instinct and can be erratic but it’s all good.

The difference described here is between the preference for either introversion or extroversion. First developed in 1912 by Carl Gustav Jung, this concept, while cutting edge at the time, is now widely understood and quoted. It explains the different ways we orient our energy and focus; whether we tend to expend energy and replenish our energy externally or internally.

Game of table tennis

Some people are more outwardly focused (extroverted) making them primarily talkative, involved, outspoken, bold, action-orientated, and often loud.
Others are more inward focused (introverted) making them primarily quiet, observant, thought-orientated, intimate, reserved, cautious, and reflective.

So when an extrovert goes to a more introverted meeting (more like a game of snooker) they often say they feel bored, frustrated, zapped of energy, even suffocated. Because they can’t participate the way they would like to.

Similarly when an introvert goes to an extroverted meeting (a ping-pong meeting) they too often feel they can’t participate how they would like. They may feel overwhelmed, overlooked, exasperated, not listened to, even bullied.

So which way is the best approach? Obviously both have their advantages. But they both have their disadvantages.

Speed of extroversion

Caution of introversion

Really it depends on two things; assessing the needs and style of your audience, and the needs of the situation.

Sometimes breadth of topics is more appropriate to going into one or two in depth. Sometimes some caution is more appropriate than quick action.

In relation to the Insights colours, introversion is represented by the blue and green energies while extroversion is represented by the red and yellow energies.
So our advice on best practice is to use the strengths of both, and to meet the needs of both types of people in your meetings.

If your colleagues are more extroverted (Red / Yellow):

  • Let them speak
  • Start with an executive summary of the topic and the objective
  • Speak up! Say something to let them know what you are thinking
  • Give plenty of opportunities for regular contribution

If your colleagues are more introverted (Green /Blue):

    • Give them time for reflection
    • Don’t attach unqualified meaning to their silence (like they approve/disapprove, are not listening, don’t know or care). They may just be thinking about it!
    • Use smaller groups or sub groups
    • Send out an agenda before and stick to it

In conclusion, if you are in a meeting and the pace is not working for you, this may be the reason why. Take responsibility for your own reaction to the situation and try to affect it positively!

So, until our next article good luck and have fun.

It all depends on how we look at things, and not how they are in themselves.

Carl G Jung

I got different strokes for different folks

Cassius Clay, 1966

Every advance, every achievement of mankind, has been connected with an advance in self awareness.

C. G. Jung, Psychological Reflections

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