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Honoring Group Balance

Valuing the contributions of both introverts and extroverts.

Any theatre director knows that casting is a critical step in ensuring a successful production.

Directors don't necessarily cast the most talented people for the roles in the show; they cast the right people. Group diversity and a balance of energies and personality styles prevent group think and ensure that multiple strengths comprise the collaboration. Collaborative groups should be viewed like an ensemble cast show. Rather than a couple leading roles, every part is crucial to success.

However, when introverts and extroverts are collaborating together, misunderstanding can arise. Extroverts can misread an introvert not speaking up in a meeting as apathy, and introverts can find irritation in extroverts thinking that they talk too much and fail to listen enough.

In our group collaborations the following strategies can be helpful:

1. Respecting Contributions of Both Introverts and Extroverts

2. Create Individual Roles and Responsibilities Within Collaborative Work

3. Take Breaks and Space for Processing and Thinking

Strategies for introverts:

1. Prep for meetings by writing down some comments or questions to share with the group. Take notes to avoid information overload.

2. Say hello, smile, and greet people when you enter a meeting or group. Use body language to signal you are listening. Feel free to explain that you will think over an issue and get back to the group when you've had time to process by yourself.

3. Don't schedule too many meetings or events on the same day (or week), if you can help it.

Strategies for extroverts:

1. Spend time in smaller groups or one-on-one getting to know group members who may be introverts.

2. Allow for individual processing time for analysis rather than immediately moving forward into major proposals after full-group discussion. Consider short breaks in meetings so introverts can recharge. Lunch with the large group will not feel like a break to an introvert!

3. Monitor your own talking in a group and stop if you get a sense that an introvert wants to share.

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