Introverts and creativity might not seem like a winning mix – but excluding less demonstrative thinkers means that great ideas may never get heard…
The idea of introversion and extraversion is relatively well-known.
You’ll no doubt have come across personality assessments like the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, the Enneagram, the DISC profile amongst many others, and learning more about yourself and your preferences can be very powerful.
Whether you are introverted or extroverted is often a factor in assessment. You probably already have an inclination about where you lie on the spectrum – but have you ever considered what this might mean for yourself and others in a creative context?
The extrovert and introvert question is complex – and it’s about way more than whether you are considered more quiet or talkative. There is a view in the world it seems that extraverts are better, and this is particularly relevant to group brainstorms. Susan Cain’s brilliant book, ‘Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking’, explores this topic in great depth.
Introversion has been defined as “the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life,” whilst extraversion is “the act, state, or habit of being predominantly concerned with obtaining gratification from what is outside the self”. Famous self-confessed introverts include JK Rowling and Eleanor Roosevelt – people who say they are at their best when alone.
Cain is an introvert in a world that she argues values extroverts more. We champion the outgoing and talkative as our leaders and our bosses and can ignore or overlook the more reserved, solitary, quiet ones.
This is very true in many organisations, particularly in PR agencies. And in a traditional group brainstorm, he/she who shouts loudest and dominates is often the person whose ideas get heard.
Group brainstorms don’t work well for introverts. And with the majority of businesses still saying this is how they generate ideas, how can you ensure that introverts can contribute their creative ideas?
Here are 7 different ways to ensure everyone’s voices are heard:
- Run a silent brainstorm – ask people to think about the problem for 5 minutes in silence or play music, but no discussion… yet. Ask participants to write down their ideas, one per Post-it.
- Ask everyone to put their Post-its on the wall – either silently or saying the ideas as they go up. The facilitator can group the themes / ideas and build on them.
- Work in creative pairs or groups of 3: this gives space to input, but mitigates dominant personalities.
- Don’t rely on a group session. Instead, post the topic in a high traffic area like the kitchen and ask people to write their ideas whilst they wait for the kettle to boil. This allows for incubation or noodling time, too.
- Share the topic in advance of a group session to allow for reflection and open a feedback loop for afterwards, too. Use email or whiteboards in the office for this.
- Acknowledge the value of different types if thinkers – creativity thrives on diversity.
- For introverts, group work can be mentally exhausting. So keep sessions short, such as a 15 minute creative blast.
- Try an online brainstorming tool which requires no speaking whatsoever. Check out our blog on the Usecandor brainstorm tool
We teach brainstorm facilitators and workshop leaders the skills needed to run brilliant hybrid and in-person sessions on our creativity training courses like How To Be A Creative Ninja.
At Now Go Create we’re experts in the creative process. Contact us if you want to find out more about how to involve everyone in your organisation in generating ideas.