How to design training with introverts in mind

Designing training programs and initiatives to help bring out the best in your employees and help them collaborate and communicate better is hardly a one-size-fits all approach. Just ask Susan Cain. 

Not only must we consider the different ways we all learn, but it’s equally, if not more important to design training that allows both introverts and extroverts to succeed.

Roughly 40% of us (including myself) are introverts, meaning our energy comes from solitude, as opposed to other people. At work and at home, introverts need quiet time and solitude to arrange our thoughts and process information.

Often times, brainstorming sessions or meetings favor extroverts – it is often a scenario where being the best or loudest talker is more important than having the best idea.

So how can we design training programs, Improv classes, and brainstorming sessions that truly allow room for all of us to succeed and where we all feel welcome?

Most importantly, how should we design classes that allow introverts to feel more comfortable expressing their ideas? In a room full of extroverts, it can be difficult to feel heard. Here are some suggestions:

1. Add in some alone time

  • Timeouts fuel introverts thinking, creativity and decision-making. In order for introverts to do their best work, this must be acknowledged. Extroverts can benefit from some solitude as well, to develop insights and learn to rely more on their own thoughts and ideas.
  • alone time also allows introverts to process information
2. Adjust full-group discussions 
  • Debriefs are such a crucial part of Applied Improv and many professional development classes. For introverts, adjust some full-group debrief to small groups or one-on-one’s where more authentic discussions can be had
  • Encourage participants to write down thoughts as opposed to sharing them out loud – self-reflection is still taking place
  • Encourage in-depth questioning of games and activities to allow more time to process each segment and its lessons

3. Celebrate our differences, remember our similarities

  • Acknowledging the differences between extroverts and introverts is important. The more we can get to know our colleagues and our different working styles, the better we can communicate and collaborate
  • Learn “how to make your partner look good”, develop empathy and connection
  • Always circle-back to your overall purpose and mission as a team. Truly make an effort to allow both introverts and extroverts to shine. Pushing people out of their comfort zone is important, but having a home-base to return to and re-charge will make the journey easier for many.
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