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Between introversion and extroversion

July 22, 2010

Over the past month I have had a chance to delve into facilitating anecdote circles for a project. I did not expect to be surprised that it would enrich my professional experience, however what I find interesting is that I am slowly putting aside my natural inclination towards introversion, and letting a more ebullient side of me emerge.

Facilitation of any sort tends to be draining, as Aiden pointed out in one of his guest blog posts. The physical part I can keep up with; I just have to make sure I have enough coffee in my veins for the duration and that I keep my blood sugar levels up. It is the emotional and cognitive aspects which are more challenging.

There was an article Jonathan Rauch wrote, "Caring for Your Introvert", that presented a tongue-in-cheek portrayal of the difficulties introverts face when in a social situation. Now I despise almost any and every form of personality testing because I believe it is impossible to truly discover every facet of a human's personality through 'testing', nor should we even try to. What would be more useful is building discernment and judgment rather than slotting people into neat little letters.

However back to the article - why I read past the first paragraph is because Rauch acknowledges that there are multiple facets to our personalities.

"Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?"

That describes me to some extent. When faced with facilitation of anecdote circles or other workshop methods I am quite game for it, and relish the opportunity to be on my feet. However there is that element of introversion which had to be overcome and I am glad that in the past month I was gaining the necessary experience. I firmly believe in stepping out of one's comfort zone every now and then and it is good to walk the talk. I know now that my natural inclination is something I can overcome when I am called to step up to the plate, and I am better off for it.

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