I just facilitated a Communication MBTI Team Building Training at the Augusta Levy Learning Center in West Virginia. My college roommate, Kathy Shapell, started the school twelve years ago because there were limited educational resources for children with autism that focused on best practices. The Center now has 29 employees and sees success with their children every day. They also take time to develop their staff, keeping them energized and creating amazing synergy. I found three common themes in the comment section from the evaluations they completed after the training that made me proud.
The major takeaways from the training experience were:
- Understanding your own personality style can enhance synergy and resilience in a team.
- Learning how to flex your personality preference will improve your communication and connection skills.
- Diversity of personalities in a team can enhance problem-solving and productivity.
They also commented on how fun the training session was. I shared with them that in my 20 years of experience in training, I have learned that adults like to have as much fun as kids do! It is crucial to make training creative so individuals can relax, recharge, and take in the new information.
An important action item for every employee was to pick a preference they would flex more. When I talk about flexing a preference, it is like stretching a muscle. For example, there were many employees who had a very strong preference for Extraversion (E). We talked about the communication gifts they bring to an organization; they are:
- Active, energetic and enthusiastic
- Think on their feet
- Easily establish a network of contacts
- Provide extensive feedback and information at meetings
A few individuals elected to flex their preference to Extraversion and be more present to their Introverted (I) colleagues.
Some of the suggestions they came up with were:
- Send important information for a meeting ahead of time
- Think before speaking
- Pause and wait for a response; don’t jump in to fill silence, especially with small talk. Be aware how often they interrupt and finish I’s sentences.
- Focus on one topic at a time and avoid making immediate decisions
We also spent time emphasizing the gifts a person with an Introverted preference brings to their work environment. For example, they:
- Think before they speak or act
- Listen to others without interrupting
- Bring a calm vibe to a team
- Respond carefully and thoughtfully
The I (Introverted) individuals came up with some suggestions of how they could flex their I to be more successful with their E (Extraverted) colleagues.
Some of their suggestions include:
- Provide more immediate feedback and verbal acknowledgement
- Take the initiative to introduce themselves and start a conversation
- Be more willing to confront issues when they come up
- Express overt interest and more enthusiasm—lean forward, nod, smile and maintain eye contact
Personality awareness is not a crystal ball but by understanding our personality type and that of others we work with, we can have greater success at work and in our personal relationships. I would love to hear other strategies that you have used to flex or stretch your Extraverted or Introverted preference.