When I attend training sessions on team work and/or motivation, I realise a grim fact: these sessions are usually tailored and customised for extroverts, leaving the introverts standing in the shadows.
I recalled an incident when the lead trainer walked into a room of twenty-five and began his motivating speech to his audience by asking all of us to respond with a loud “yes!” to each of his questions (such as “Are you ready for the lesson?”, “Do you want to feel motivated?”, “Do you want to be the best?”etc). Half the class did. Then he asked the class to do a “celebration wave”, whereby members from one end will have to stand up followed by the member next to him or her in one direction (with the first few members sitting down subsequently) such that one will see a movement among the audience that resembles a wave. A third of the audience did so. Then the lead trainer asked the audience to raise both hands in the air with a loud “yes!” whenever he said something inspiring such as “We are doing well today!”, “Are you energised?” and “Are you a winner?”. This time round, none responded. The training session has failed miserably.
While there’s a possibility that the majority of the audience for this session may be introverts, it’s a fact that the approach to the training session is for extroverts and cheerleaders, not for introverts. Unfortunately, a substantial number of training sessions are conducted in such a fashion. This does not benefit the introverts at all because the introverts’ psyche is almost entirely different from the extroverts.
Below are some of the characteristics of an introvert and the reasons why the training session above will not work for them:
- Personal touch: Introverts are often looking for that personal connection with another individual. This is often the reason why they are often perceived as not being able to work as well in groups as compared to introverts. As can be observed from the training session as described above, the lack of personal touch by the lead trainer closes all opportunities for the lead trainer to interact with the introverts.
- Thinking time: Introverts in general requires a substantial amount of thinking time. Extroverts – seen in this light – are often more decisive in general. One can only say that introverts are individuals who are often more careful when speaking, often going through the various responses through their heads before replying. The above training sessions do not allow this.
- Quiet Environment: Introverts often prefer a quiet environment to think things through. This is the reason why they are often considered not as sociable as extroverts. But they are often deep thinkers and strong observers. Again, the abovementioned training sessions are rather noisy and do not provide a conducive environment for their personal development.
The abovementioned training approach is not wrong. It’s just that it does not help introverts in their personal development very well. Introverts are motivated through personal encouragement and understanding, not outright declaration of commitment. This is something that trainers should take note.
A good technique to employ will be to break the participants into small groups of three-five. Subsequently, use games that involves interaction to bring up the enthusiasm in the participants. Reducing the number of participants will engage introverts to participate more and I believe the extroverts do not mind the change very much. When playing the games, trainers should place more emphasis on encouraging the introverts and spurring them on while not neglecting the extroverts. This is a win-win situation.
As educationists or working professionals in a supervisory profession, we should make every effort to know what makes both an introvert and an extrovert tick. Unfortunately, it’s usually the former that gets neglected.