Making the Training Room Introvert Friendly
Creative Training and Teaching Techniques
You’re in a training session and you assign a group activity. About half of the members are engaged in discussion while the other half sit silently. Perhaps these quiet individuals contribute a short and token response if you or group members prompt them but nothing else. Sound familiar?
You might be tempted to label these quiet individuals as shy, which may be true, but not everyone is naturally disposed to group conversations. Many individuals are introverted and can become burned out from too much social interaction. While it is important to use group activities within your instruction, a few adjustments are necessary for introverts to fully reap the benefits of this powerful learning technique.
Perhaps the easiest adjustment a trainer can make is instructing participants to take time to reflect upon information individually before placing them into groups. Reflection time gives introverted participants time to draw their own conclusions about new content, which makes them more comfortable when expressing their ideas in groups. For many introverts, it is important that their opinion is fully formed before it is shared.
Reflection time is also important at the end of group work, as introverts will need to write down some of the key ideas learned from the group activity. Taking down a few notes enables introverts to review and reflect upon the ideas generated during group sessions. Once the course is over, the introverts can take their notes to the solitary environment they desire and come to their own conclusions.
Giving introverted participants reflection time is not done at the expense of their extroverted counterparts. They too benefit from having time to take refine their opinions before they voice them. They also benefit from the opportunity to take notes and review.
Another simple adjustment a trainer can make is gradually increasing the size of the small groups and ease participants into social interactions. Begin this approach by moving individuals into pairs to brainstorm. After the introvert is in a pair with his or her learning partner, they can get to know and trust their partner, something that is important for all learners, but specifically critical for introverts. A greater amount of trust between learners can reduce the tension that might exist between them. With the increased level of trust, introverts will be more comfortable expressing their ideas.
After the pairs finish brainstorming, move the pairs into groups of four or six people. Keep the learning partners together, as they will serve as a bridge to establishing stronger relationships with the new group members.
For all learners, incorporate an openers at the beginning of every course to help relieve social tension existing at the beginning of class while also facilitating networking between the participants. Keep in mind that introverts are not the only ones experiencing social tension. Openers also have the added benefits of breaking the preoccupation of participants and introducing the content of the course. For excellent examples of effective openers, check out SCORE Volume 3.