Extroverts can defer to noise, words, and sounds when left to their own preferences. As meeting leaders, trainers, and managers we need to honor silence. Whether that is in time for others to think, quiet time for them to write brainstorm ideas, workspace
- I clearly remember the first time that Brenda's and my personality traits clashed in a public forum. We had designed an all-day management retreat in a beautiful venue and a room of 100 engaged professionals ready to learn and develop. One of my contributions was the walk-in music, a playlist of fun oldies and recent hits playing in the background and adding to the atmosphere. The day kicked off without a hitch. By the second or third activity, it happened.
Brenda summoned everyone to turn to their workbook and write a reflection of something, while I confidently walked over to the music area to turn yet another fun hit for everyone to hear. Um, that never happened, because you-know-who gave me the look. I thought, "What's wrong with filling the sound of silence "with some music?" But for Brenda and some introverts, a lot is wrong. The background music in a time of thoughtful reflection is a distraction and an annoyance.
Really, I had never thought about it that way. And if I hadn't had a chance to partner up with Brenda, it would have never crossed my mind. We as extroverts need to learn to embrace and honor silence. Here are some situations where I have found it to be helpful. Answering questions after a presentation. Allow the thought to simmer in your mind. (breathes deeply) Take a deep breath.
Possibly paraphrase the question, and then answer it. Even though the silence between you and the audience may seem odd, it's not. It makes you a better listener. Leading a discussion. Always mix in written reflections with verbal ones. Because our preferred style is to jump into the conversation, that doesn't mean that everyone will be as comfortable.
Always consider allowing for a silent break where people think or write down ideas and reflections, and that would be in a group discussion, a class, or even a training. Having a tough conversation. This is always a difficult one for me, and I have to take more than one deep breath in order to honor the silence. Because emotions run high, and for extroverts, we want to talk things out, it's best that we truly listen and let others be heard.
Saying what's on our mind is sometimes dangerous in highly charged situations. It's best to practice the presentation technique I just mentioned. Listen, (breathes deeply) breathe, process internally, or even clarify verbally, pause again, and then speak. Quieting mind, but not body. As an extrovert, I do some of my best thinking while running, swimming, biking alone or driving the car without the radio on.
Something about the external stimuli and movement engagement without human interactions gets my creative juices going. And when I'm done, I record a voice memo to send to Brenda so I don't interrupt her or get a callback. Quieting mind and body. This for me is still a work-in-progress. It's a few minutes of mindful nothingness. So, no planning, no writing priorities for the day, and no electronics.
Use of intentional meditation to start or add to any time during the day is very helpful for the highly-charged hard drive. One more activity for this category is massage. Your body can be passive together with your mind without you being asleep. I find it as a great rejuvenating time, but be mindful to choose a therapist that doesn't want to carry on an engaging conversation. Even though it may seem that silence and extroversion don't go hand-in-hand, I challenge you to consider embracing silence and practicing some of these strategies.
- Knowing yourself
- Inward vs. outward
- Being vs. doing
- Stretching the introvert
- Making decisions
- Influencing and leading others
- Stretching the extrovert
- Multitasking mindfully
- Networking strategically