Yesterday afternoon I was delighted to sit in on a workshop by Jenni Jepsen at Agile 2011 titled Flirting with Customers. If you know Atlassian at all you may know one of our values is Don’t F#$k The Customer. Thankfully this session was focused on identifying personality types, not romantic encounters!
For instance, I am an extrovert. I like to talk, discuss, argue, etc. Introverts on the other hand are less inclined to conversation and confrontation and prefer to listen. One of the most interesting things to come out of this workshop for me was that when introverts try to be extroverts it is often extremely draining on their energy levels.
Jenni touched on Maslow’s Hierarchy, focusing on Love and Belonging and demonstrating that a genuine interest in someone, listening and eye contact can count for a lot. She pointed out that studies show that happy employees are more innovative. Bingo! That is a point to add to my Be the change you seek talk. Some of the Atlassian product managers have seen similar during our recent visits to Nola, The Corporate Buddha in Sydney.
Our first exercise was to, as a table, identify a person in the room and figure out an ‘open’ – a way to approach them and start a conversation. We picked ‘guy with the big laptop’ mainly cause he had a great big smile. Our ‘open’ was ‘hi, i notice you have your laptop open, have you been taking notes in the sessions?’, ‘oh great, would you be interested in a note swap?’. Worked really well, smashing success actually.
The second exercise required us to meet someone else and chat with them for two minutes, listening and asking questions. I made a beeline to Pollyanna Pixton who is a gregarious lady with a hearty laugh – brilliant! I learned in our brief chat that Pollyanna was in Sydney earlier this year, was a maths and physics major and had been arrested back in the 70’s for protesting against the Vietnam War. Very cool lady.
Extroverts and introverts need to be aware of each others needs. This was a really fun workshop, keep an eye out Jenni at your next conference.
One final takeaway, when you are setting a dinner table keep the extroverts in the middle and put the introverts around the fringes. That way the introverts can tune in and out as they please and will not get too drained by sitting, for instance, between two extroverts.