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Group training - helpful tips for introverts

17 January 2014

If you are an introvert it may seem like group training is a slow death sentence, designed by extroverts, for extroverts.  The facilitator may be really looking forward to sharing your thoughts ad-nauseum, and most of the group will be over-ready to contribute, while you just want some peace and quiet.  Instead of making yourself as small as possible and wishing the group would just be quiet and THINK!, there are things you can do to care for yourself in this most dangerous of situations.




If you look nervous the predatory facilitator will pick you from a mile away and might even ask you to perform the first excruciating “ice-breaker”.  Your first instinct might be to check your phone and pull your hoodie up over your head as you sink back into your chair, hoping this madness will end!  Courage!  One way to energise yourself is “the teenager”.  Close your eyes for a moment and – while they are closed – roll them as far to the back of your head as you can – a classic teenage move.  You might notice the desire to yawn, and your back straightening up.  You may find yourself taking  in oxygen and feeling just a tiny bit refreshed with your chest out and your head up.  Looking alert and confident often causes inexperienced facilitators to brush straight past you and zero in on those “least engaged”.


If you look like you are disengaging, an inexperienced facilitator may chase after you, trying to get you back, making sure that “everyone gets a voice here – no, seriously, you HAVE to have a voice here”


You might want to run out of the room to recover lost energy, but you can energise yourself without leaving.  Try “Doing the Y” .  Stretch with your arms up high in the air in a Y Shape, fists clenched.  Changing your body to be more powerful can help you feel more energised.  Let’s face it, these people are sapping the life out of you with their incessant talking, so it is worth a shot. The “Y” may help you regenerate feelings of lost energy without having to escape. 


Get outside, alone or with a trusted colleague, as much as you can.  (Just remember to come back – maybe set an alarm so you don’t get caught up solving the problems of the world in your head.  You know, like the issue your sister is having with her boyfriend, and how Christmas even works, and why the train platform announcers are so damn confusing – all at the same time!).  At least stand in a quiet corner in the sunshine if you can.  It just feels good and helps you process.


2. POWER SHIELDS - “Triple-Nod” and “I Agree”


The triple-nod can help you avoid having to share your real answer with these people, even if it is quietly brilliant.  If the facilitator looks at you directly in the eyes don’t panic!  Just nod three times in quick succession and they might move on, looking for the one participant who’s too slow to react!  If you get caught in a situation where you need to reply, you can always shift to I agree.  It helps you conserve as much energy as possible.  Pretend to continue the conversation by saying “I agree with <insert name of previous speaker here>” and then turn to a colleague and ask “What’s your opinion?”  If they are an extravert they will launch into a monologue and nobody will notice how you just passed the ball.




If you are absolutely stuck, roll your eyes and laugh lightly to no one in particular while saying “Well, isn’t it obvious?”   Look around and see how many people in the group nod their head and take your comment very seriously.  One of them WILL start talking and you will be saved a very painful death.  OK, it’s rude, but it will give you time to work out an emergency escape plan.


BUT SERIOUSLY… good luck and keep an eye out for the 7 vital questions training providers need to ask about  the programs and the facilitators they use.



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