Meyer Briggs Inversion
Now, Myers-Briggs inversion is an exercise I came up with about five years ago that has had more impact than any other exercise I've ever run. Regardless of gender or type of person or country, the Myers-Briggs exercise, as long as I have some introverts in the room, which I don't, the Myers-Briggs exercise is humbling and really revelatory. So, I want to talk to you a little bit about Myers-Briggs. Has anyone here done... Well, you've done Myers-Briggs because I got you to do it beforehand. And I think on the worksheet, I think we may have a link as part of this workshop, but I'm not sure. Anyway, you can go online and find any number of free Myers-Briggs personality tests. Myers-Briggs was originally designed by women for women joining the workforce for the first time post World War Two. That's why I like it. It's pretty early adoption by women. And I really feel like it has really survived the test of time, because it doesn't judge. It's just preferences. It's looking at your prefer...
ence for receiving information, your preference in sharing information, your preference in making decisions, generally your preferences in life. And so once you have a look at all of those things, there's nothing bad. You know, also for years I've tried to see if I can swing by finding every single free Myers-Briggs test online. I'm like, oh, can I... And it never changes. I'm always the same thing and every description I read of, say, my weaknesses, completely resonates. And I look at it and go, hmm. I wonder if I can slightly change those percentages but it is what it is because it's my preferences. It's a really, really great tool for understanding you and it's a really great tool for understanding other people in your environment. So, this is an interesting one. Susan Cain who is part of the Quiet Revolution, has written books on quiet thinkers and has one of the most watched TED Talks, talks about the power of introverts. She is a speaker, yet an introvert. And I think this is the key about introversion, is people assume that an introvert is shyer or quiet, but an introvert is often a leader because they have this way of thinking through meaning and memory that is incredibly thoughtful and meaningful if they're given a timeframe that allows them to use it. So often those people that are being quiet in the room are simply observing and thinking their very useful stuff and choosing not to share. Your challenge then is, as extroverts is, how can you beg them to share with you what they're thinking? How can you structure something to enable them to have input? So Myers-Briggs, basically, looks like this. It has three or four preferences, four main things. The introvert, extrovert, is our outward, our focus, and how we think. Then we have information, which is, are we going off feeling and intuition or are we acting in the moment? Like how are we thinking through things? How are we making our decisions? Do we like to be super analytical, or are we going off a gut feeling? And then outer life. Do we... And judging is an interesting word. A lot of people are like, oh no, I got judging. Judging doesn't mean you're judgmental. It simply means that you consider things more in terms of what's right, what's wrong, and perhaps slightly more black and white. It's not a bad thing. It's just a thing. The thing that you have. So what's interesting is, my sister was working at Sydney Airport Authority in a massive engineering department, delivering a whole lot of sustainable engineering solutions to this huge international airport. She had one colleague in particular who drove her crazy, and it happened to be the person that was holding the purse strings on all the budgets of all the new projects that she wanted to deliver. So every time she would come with a new project, this colleague of hers would shut it down. Poppy, the name of my sister, Poppy was never satisfied with the explanation and really built a grudge up against this person, and this person, no doubt, could not stand my sister. My sister is pretty forceful, very eloquent, and I have no doubt that a lot went down with these guys. So this workplace decided to run a two-day intensive Myers-Briggs workshop with the whole department. Outcome of that was, not only were people given their Myers-Briggs profiles, but they were also told that they had to have these four letters. I'm ENFJ... ENFP, ENFP. Dr. Seuss. You had to have your four letters at the front of your desk. So at the end of two days, not only did you understand how you received your information, you had a really good understanding of how every colleague in that department received and preferred their information. Revelation for Poppy, because she looked and went, "Oh, they're a thinking." So she's coming in for all her new projects with these big picture thoughts, just going, "You know, I'm gonna do this "and the reason it's gonna be good is this. "This is the outcome. "This is fantastic." Fully trying to sway them with the big picture-ness of it. But bean-counter colleague required the detailed facts, the stuff that Poppy thought was so boring that she never bothered doing it. She knew it, it wasn't that she didn't. She just didn't think it was important because her way of making a decision was much more on big picture. As soon as she realized the way her colleague needed their information given to them, she changed her structure and she started presenting the detailed breakdown of how this would deliver and then how it would result and she got every single project through. So in understanding how other people function, it's not just so that we can manipulate them and work around them, it's so we can work with them, and so we can then idea-share instead of butting heads. And it's interesting. Remember that Danish saying that an argument is just a conversation that hasn't happened long enough. So understanding Myers-Briggs preferences of the people you're trying to work with and your family, huge, is then taking something that is grating, something that's driving you crazy, and turning it into a discussion where people gain greater understanding of each other and then we have harmony. So that's the basis of Myers-Briggs. I'm gonna tell you what this inversion is. So the idea of the Myers-Briggs inversion is pretty simple. What you do is you break a group up into introverts and extroverts. But before you break them up, you have them all come up with something that really annoys them, something personal, something that you care about, right? That you're gonna have a reaction to. So something that bugs you, a problem. It's usually a workplace problem or a family problem, like the kids don't do the laundry or somebody snores. You know, something. This works really, really well on any team. You divide people off into tables where we have ideally equal numbers of extroverts and introverts. Rare. Usually we have about two thirds extroverts, one third introverts. So, sit them at the table. We table all of the problems and then the extroverts have to put their hands on the table and not speak for five minutes. Now, I'm gonna say, it has never lasted five minutes. In my experience of running this inversion for the last five years, no extrovert has made it through five minutes so I've actually shortened this to three. Okay, so for three minutes, the extrovert has to put their hands on the table and listen to the introverts choosing one of those problems to solve and then solving it. And this is how it goes. Work with me on this. I'm the extrovert. I'm sitting on the table and I start twitching. I'm trying to listen to what they're saying but I'm actually eyeballing everyone. Then I start a little nervous laugh. (laughs nervously) And I have to walk over and go, "No laughing. "Could you just not?" And then they start sort of twitching a bit and you see their fingers start drumming. It's like, "Don't drum." Because they're struggling. They're twitching and tweaking so badly because they just want to jump in and tell them what to do. Meanwhile, the introverts are sitting there going, "I mean, like which one would you choose?" "No you, which one would you choose?" And they sit there, unable to even choose the problem for at least two of the three minutes. And then when they finally have the problem, they're so politely going, "No, what would you like to do?" "But what..." And they sit there considering and working around to try and work out what the best solution is and in my experience over five years and more than 1,000 people doing this thing, probably got two solutions ever because that is not the way they work. They're considering it and they're sitting there and they're allowing the other person all of this time to also consider it and nothing really gets done. Meanwhile, our tweaking extroverts are sitting there shaking and batting around and busting to jump up and down. And at the end of it, when I ask for feedback and ask people how they found that experience, uniformly the extroverts say, "I am so humbled "because I had no idea that my patience was so pathetic "that I couldn't even sit and listen." And if you ask them what went down with the introverts, they usually can't tell you because they were just focusing on staying still. Right? This art of listening comes really easily to an introvert but it is so hard for an extrovert. And I've tried for years to make myself a better listener because it's such a good thing to be able to do, but it's so hard if you're used to just jumping in. Now, the feedback from the introverts is equally interesting because usually they say a couple of things. "I've never had that much time "to actually express myself in public," is one. Well, do you like that? Yeah, not necessarily. You know? Most of them will say... So, the extroverts will normally say... I'll say, is the answer something you would've come up with? Absolutely not. No. There's no way I would've come up with. So that's interesting. You're gonna get a different result. The introverts say, I really would've liked to have heard from the extroverts. I would've liked to ask them what they thought. I really wanted their input, but I just didn't want them talking over me. So generally, what we end up with is, the way we structure a meeting and the way we structure a brainstorming is completely inadequate to hear from both sides of the brain in terms of introversion and extroversion. What we do every day, the way we teach a class, everything that we do is completely inadequate to get the full meaning and understanding from the introvert. They're not comfortable doing it in a short timeframe, necessarily, and it's not because they don't think fast. It's because they think of something, then they consider how the impact's gonna be, what the meaning of that thing is. In a way, they're doing a little mini-adventurous thinking around it while we're all waiting and twitching away on the table. But the extroverts realize that when we're throwing our ideas into open air all the time to fill the space, they're not always the best ideas. You know? The solution that you might have come up with, often, the extroverts will acknowledge, is not the best solution. Often the one these guys are still bubbling around on and haven't actually finished doing is going in a really nicely promising direction, and it would never have gotten heard. So this is Myers-Briggs inversion. It's an amazing thing to do with people because once you understand who in your group is introverted but more importantly, once you feel... You know, if adventurous thinking is all about activating, it's all about feeling that difference, feeling the variable discomfort. Believe me, if you're an extrovert, you have never felt discomfort like this, to sit and twitch around for three to five minutes while other people solve the problem. Actually it kills you the first time. Totally worth trying. Anyone got any thoughts? Has anyone had an experience on that? Yes.
It kind of reminds me of when we do fishbowl brainstorming or discussion of fishbowl because for me, when I'm sitting on the outside, all I want to do is just tap someone on the inside. I think even when people were kind of, I guess processing their thoughts more, but they were really thinking about what they're going to say. They're not just kind of word vomiting out like I do but it just makes me so stressed because they're taking their time. I honestly wish I could do that but I just, waiting for people to talk and waiting for them to really take their time and look through everything just drives me crazy. I know that it shouldn't but I think it's really difficult for--
It does, you have to train yourself.
What I found is, it's really interesting that when you're firing on dopamine, right? You sit there going, "Ah, I can't stand this! "Just let me talk!" But if you tell yourself to accept that you're just gonna listen, if you take that discipline and go, you know what? I'm gonna empty my brain. None of my ideas are gonna shake the world right now. I'm actually gonna empty and simply sit here, like a rock, but a listening rock. It's actually an amazing Zen moment that we extroverts don't normally get, that you can actually sit there and decide that you're gonna fully dedicate to listening. It's quite beautiful. Yeah?
I had a class, in fact, in my Innovation class last semester, we had to work in teams and I remember going through where we're listening to one of our team members because you have to listen. (laughs) And I'm freaking out on the side, like, oh my god, hurry up, hurry up, hurry up. But then it's almost like a rollercoaster because you're really stressed, you want them to talk faster, but as soon as they come to a good idea and you're like, oh. That was actually worth it, then you actually calm down. Because I'm all inside about to explode but then as soon as everyone comes to a conclusion and an actual good thought comes out of it, then it all just disappears and it's worth it in the end.
Yeah, so if you decide that you don't need to put anything new in, that in fact you're gonna wait at least five ideas down the road before you come up with something, you just give it up. Instead of trying to wait for the moment because I think most of us are waiting for the moment and the gap in the conversation so we can jam in the thing that we thought of five minutes ago. But if we're really, truly idea-sharing, we shouldn't need to jam that idea in, because what we need to do is learn and question what other people are saying. And so it completely changes the dynamic if the extroverts drop four out of five of the questions, drop their level of intervention, and wait. It's quite an incredible thing. And once you've tried this Myers-Briggs inversion and I can't stress enough how you actually have to live it. It sounds like you've semi-lived it, Liv. How you have to live it to understand that there could be a different way, instead of twitching around, which is what we all do. Yeah, Lee.
One of my favorite bosses and actually my only real mentor in my whole career was actually... I'm coming from a sales perspective and we used to call him the only introverted salesperson because he's absolutely an introvert, not shy, much like you're saying, but a great salesperson, used great word pictures, really could move the ball forward with our customers. And what's interesting and I don't know why it's just occurring to me now, 30 years later. (laughs) That in ad sales, which was what I was doing, the people that were buying from us are actually introverted.
They're actually number crunchers. They're looking at everything from different angles and obviously... Well, not obviously, but what we would always do is hire extroverted salespeople. That's what salespeople are, they're extroverted. But you're selling to an introverted customer base.
That's such a good point.
So I'm like, interesting. Disconnect.
That's such a good point, because if you're face-to-face and you're doing that jump up in your face, whoo! That high energy selling to an introvert, you're repelling them.
So any sale you make is actually in spite of, not because of. That's such an interesting point.
Because if you think about so much of digital sales in particular, the digital life, the whole online thing gives introverts a way to put some distance and be really great at what they do. And yet, if you're selling to those people, we're still using traditional sales methods which are very, "We should go to lunch and we should talk. "Whoo! Let's go out and then we'll..." Which isn't necessarily gonna work.
Yes, physiologically it's actually not gonna work. So interesting.
Actually, I have more of a question than a comment. It seems like a lot of what we've been discussing today has to do with relationships and how we relate to other people and stuff. And I was wondering how much that plays into this whole idea of generating ideas and thinking out of the box. How much of that is really just a function of how we're relating to other people and that sort of input?
That's a really good point, Sherry. I think it's crucial because if we understand that curiosity and cross-pollination is at the hub of everything innovative and if we want to be innovative and creative people and the world says everybody wants to be creative and innovative. It's visible growth. You have this sense of optimism. You have this sense of purpose and what comes next that is really addictive to other people. So most of us want to be a really creative and innovative just means you're gonna make money from it so that's even better, right? So I feel like the heart of it is relationships because if you're gonna try and make these unexpected connections, if you're gonna cross-pollinate, you have to be able to listen to the other person because it's all humans, right? I mean, it's interesting with that whole idea of relationships and creativity. I see a world where so many people are worried about computers taking jobs. And honestly, whenever I talk to people, I say, if you understand your creative potential, you understand you have something uniquely human that so far cannot be replicated by artificial intelligence, and that is curiosity. But more than just random questioning, it's the ability to make these connections, to take something that might be possible, bring it into something you're expert at, bring them together into the next innovative step. There's no algorithm for that yet. And we all have it. At the heart, it's our humanness that gives us this immersive competitive advantage over any robot. I mean, a robot can come in, AI can come in and do all the knowledge stuff. It can compute faster, it can number crunch, whatever it's gotta do, but in terms of being creative and making those connections that are key to the innovative step, we've got it all over everybody, everything. And yeah, I think that so much of the idea of creative thinking is our ability to connect with other people and then stand back, ask a question, and stand back and listen to the answer. Because it's the questioning and the answering, more so the questioning, that gives us the understanding and meaning and purpose. Yeah?
Another hard thing is for extroverts, why that drill is so hard is because extroverts feed so much of being accepted by the group, the second we feed our ideas out there, we're not really open to the other ideas because we care more about being accepted by the other things.
That's so true.
When you write down the idea and put down the thing, you just want to be like, my idea is better than theirs. (laughs) While they're all kind of discussing which one's better, which one's which. So I think as extroverts if you, I think, just step back and open up for the first two minutes of the conversation, be like, "All right, is my idea the best?" So then when you give your initial first point that you're gonna pretty much fight for, you have something that you actually put more thought of into it.
I love that. I love that idea of, I'm gonna sit back for 10 minutes or five minutes. Or, no, you probably can't stand it for 10 minutes. Let's sit back for three, shall we? But I'm gonna sit back, I'm gonna listen to the first flow of ideas hit, and then I'm gonna build on it. You know? Because introverts tend to be ones that are really great at building on other ideas. They're constantly building on extroverts' ideas but let's face it, that's only because the extroverts are just chucking them at the wall as fast as they can. Right? (yells) But imagine, yeah, if you decided you were gonna actually build off other people's stuff. You were gonna sit back, swallow it down, and go, what I'm gonna do is contribute as an "and" and then see where my crazy brain starts taking me because then you're still gonna fire up on dopamine. Plus, the person that you just added to is gonna go, "That's awesome!" And you're gonna go, "Whoo, yes!" And take it to 11. So I think it's a really, that's a really good point. Thank you. All right. So are we good on introversion? It's fascinating. But the key again to adventurous thinking, the relevance to this, is in understanding what we're not, we can gain so much understanding of others and also what we could do. And we can change our behaviors so that our cross-pollination is more fruitful. So it serves us but it serves everybody because obviously the better the relationship, the happier. The happier, the more optimism. The more optimism, the more success. Yes!