Introverts in MeetingsJanuary 13, 2010 Leave a comment
I recently read an interesting New York Times article by Nancy Ancowitz that a friend sent me about the ways that extroverts are privileged in meeting processes and work environments. It’s something we talk about at IISC as well. What are the ways that we can design and facilitate meetings so as not to privilege extroverts over introverts – or people with different learning styles – or people with different abilities or aptitudes?
There’s a lot known. And there’s a lot still to discover. Much of generic group process (if not attending to these kinds of things) favors those who freely express ideas in groups. Day-long or multi-day meetings can be great for extroverts, who get energy being in groups – and challenging for introverts, who need alone time to recharge and process internally. Introverts will participate more fully if given time to consider material ahead of time. Extroverts tend to be exactly the opposite – or can quickly scan something in the room and go. Brainstorming is a natural thing for extroverts (who are comfortable putting forth ideas without necessarily knowing how fully “cooked” they are), but not so much for introverts (who tend to want to spend internal time thinking through an idea before putting it out).
So it can be helpful, sometimes, to offer information ahead of time. Or to give people a few minutes to think individually (or even write) about their responses before going into full-out brainstorm. But what about full-day or multi-day meetings?
What are ways to structure meetings to allow people to work across these differences? The goal seems to be designing and facilitating processes that bring out the best in everyone and allow voice for all.
So how do we create processes that bring together all of this? That don’t privilege one over the other?
I’m wondering about processes you may have used that worked really well for you – both for introverts and for extroverts. What is your experience about what works?