Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Collaboration: An Admiration of Variation

photo credit
Jamie Millard and Chris Oien, bloggers for YNPN-TC, have taken their discussion on networking from the recently posted ‘The 4-step program for successfully networking as an introvert’ a step further by asking, “What do you do to help the introverts at networking events feel comfortable?”

When I read this I instantly thought, “This is where I come in handy!” For better or worse, I have made it my job in life to begin conversations with perfect strangers (hence my love for Minnesota Rising’s Cascading Conversations project). Cracking the silence and starting a conversation sooner rather than later eases tensions and, if nothing else, provides a vehicle into the conversation for those who are slightly introverted.

It has been my experience, as an extreme extrovert, that introverts bring out my best qualities and add a new dimension to my critical thinking. Working amongst different personality types is half the fun of collaborating! Further, being aware of where you sit on the personality spectrum can really be an added value for you as you work with others. Identifying your tendencies is one way to highlight your strengths and combat any weaknesses you may typically fall prey to. I know my list of tendencies is probably a mile long, but at least I am aware of them and face them head on.

My better half, as an INTP on the Myers Briggs (my polar opposite), often wishes I would not facilitate such conversations for him. I often drag him outside of his comfort zone and go about my merry way, leaving him in the middle of whatever it was I was doing last and with no real idea of why he is there in the first place. But, what can I say? There is something to be said for the person who can force out the brilliant ideas from the much too quiet wallflowers, even if the prodding is slightly unwanted.

I find introverts really challenge me to slow down and clarify my thoughts. I have learned a great deal about myself this way. I embrace these opportunities and see them as a way to fine tune my skills. Without these experiences I might not be able to comprehend why someone didn’t grasp what I said, or be left wondering why my point was missed. In case you want more, check out this TED Talk! It is another great example of the beneficial power of introverts. And me -- I am just their biggest fan!


  1. I love this. It's important to remember that we all communicate differently and that introverts require just a bit more time to acclimate. Thanks for sharing, and it's true, Ms. Heidi Smith, you do fantastic job of making sure we're all part of the conversation.

    1. Well said to you both, Heidi and Kate! And thanks for sharing your ideas and insights.

      Kate, I hope we'll have the pleasure of seeing you published on this blog sometime soon!-)


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