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An Exercise to Introduce Extroversion, Introversion and Stereotyping

by Chris Burton

Copyright © Chris Burton. All rights reserved.

This article has been reprinted from the Team Management Systems website. Please visit www.TMS.com.au for further information or to contact the authors direct.

The following is a quick workshop activity that helps to address a number of issues. Firstly, to address value laden and/or negative stereotyping (with the aim of fostering understanding and helping to value diversity), to introduce the notion of psychic energy and/or to discuss differences in communication styles.

Participants:
  • 4 (2 of these acting as scribes)
Materials:
  • 3 balls (eg tennis balls)
  • 1 large bag (eg garbage bag)
  • something to write on and with (white board, butchers paper, markers)
Time:
  • 5 minutes for activity
  • 10 – 30 minutes for debrief

Ask for 2 volunteers (Person A and Person B) and 2 scribes. If it's at all possible to set it up, try to select an introvert and extrovert as Person A and B (check your Team Management Profile summary sheet for this). Setup the scribes and give A the balls and B the bag and separate them by a couple of metres. A throws the balls one at a time and B catches them in the bag. While A throws, they say a word or phrase that they associate with extroverts or extroversion. As B catches they say a word or phrase that they associate with introverts or introversion. After all the balls have been thrown, reverse the situation. B offers an extrovert stereotype as they throw to A, who offers an introvert stereotype. It's important to ask B to reach into the bag and take the balls out one at a time. Once you have the 6 generalizations ask the group if they have any more. Thank participants, collect materials and allow them to return to their seats.

The first thing to do is address the value laden negative stereotypes. The descriptors in the title are from the first time I tried this activity in a workshop. This provided a great opportunity to explore the fact that, even though we may have preconceptions about them, both types have strengths and weaknesses. It also demonstrates the utility of stereotypes to facilitate learning, through providing examples etc. This section can be directed towards discussions around, negative stereotypes, valuing diversity or similar issues.

Depending on the learning needs of your group, you can then introduce the notion of psychic energy, and that Jung was referring to psychic energy flowing into the body (introversion) and out of the body (extroversion). The activity aims to demonstrate this with the balls representing the psychic energy. When person A throws the balls, this is a metaphor of extroversion i.e. bouncing ideas off / throwing ideas around. When person B throws the balls, they first have to search in the bag to find it, representing the introverts preference to take time to search for the right word. For those really wanting to get into it, you can look at the receiving mechanisms as well, representing listening strategies that require effort to track the incoming message and skill to successfully catch the message. With person A, when they catch, they're ready to throw the balls again quickly, with B, it takes a different type of skill to catch the ball in the bag, but the message isn't able to be immediately returned.

Regardless of whether or not you explore the ideas of psychic energy, the activity serves to introduce some important points regarding differences in communication style between introverts and extroverts. Additionally, by covering the stereotyping issues, hopefully a more understanding environment can be fostered. I hope you and your trainees benefit and enjoy.

Copyright © Chris Burton. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Chris Burton holds a Science degree in Psychology as well as postgraduate qualifications in Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations. He is currently studying his MBA at the University of Queensland. Having worked in organizational development and HR for over 10 years, the last 5 years with Team Management Systems, Chris brings to his programs a strong body of current knowledge and expertise. Chris is a recognized specialist in the strategic application of organizational psychometrics to develop leaders, teams and companies. He uses feedback and facilitation to help people work better together, enabling teams to develop discernable and sustainable improvements.

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