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Facilitating Introverted and Extroverted Participants: Myers Briggs and Facilitation Part 2

Inclusive Meetings
June 20, 2023 10:15 am

Part 2: Facilitating Introverts and Extroverts

In my last blog posting, I argued that Myers-Briggs Type Indicator results do not determine how well people can perform as facilitators since MBTI measures preferences, not skills. As facilitators however, we can benefit from being able to identify certain introverted or extroverted traits among meeting participants, so that we can structure our meetings in ways that will give both groups enough time to shine and enough space to feel comfortable.

While there is no infallible formula for spotting where people fall on the spectrum, there are some common behaviors that are associated with introversion and extroversion.

Unsurprisingly, introverts tend to think more carefully before speaking, so it is very likely that participants who are most vocal and who contribute very quickly to various discussions are closer to the extrovert side of the scale. Introverts will tend to seek private time or socialize in smaller groups during breaks, while extroverts will mingle and often stay around for further socializing after the meeting is over. At the same time, claims Karyn Greenstreet, those individuals who make more eye contact and listen attentively and patiently possess at least some introverted preferences. (1)

Here are some of the main points on how to engage these different types of personalities:

  • Begin meetings with a one-on-one or small-group exercise. This will give more introverted individuals a chance to begin interacting with others in a gradual manner.
  • Individual brainstorming sessions before plenary discussions can give introverts a chance to process and prepare their ideas in a way that makes them feel more comfortable.
  • Short breaks will enable extroverts to mingle while introverts can choose to re-energize through private time.
  • Use a talking stick! This will allow introverts to skip their turn if they do not feel like sharing their ideas yet; it will also prevent an especially vocal extrovert from dominating the conversation.
  • Make sure that you balance the smaller-group and individual brainstorming sessions with larger-group exercises or plenary discussions so that extroverts also have an opportunity to develop ideas in their preferred manner.
  • Post- or inter-meeting internet forums are a great way to supply extroverts with continued interaction and to give introverts a means of communicating that allows time for longer and more private processing of ideas. (2)

Learning about the MBTI is thus an effective means of enhancing your ability to make all your participants feel comfortable and engaged. In this sense, becoming a good facilitator also means becoming more open-minded and sensitive towards a greater range of personalities.

(1) Karyn Greenstreet, How to Facilitate Introverts and Extroverts in Your Group or Class, Self-Employed Success, 12 Jun, 2013.

(2) Many of these tips are featured in Roshan Bliss’s article, Facilitation and Introversion: Tips for Engaging Quiet People, NCDD, nd.

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