February 8, 2019

Baked or Half Baked Cake?

Idea Implications for Extraversion and Introversion Preferences

How you prefer to bake your cake has enormous implications for team meetings and creative problem solving.

For example, 50% of us get energy – more and more of it – from group conversations. We scramble over one other excitedly interrupting. The more we talk, the more energy we gain.

There’s transparency in our thought process because we’re literally thinking out loud to understand ourselves. We think-edit-speak-in-a stream-of consciousness and often at race track speed, over and over again.

(Anyone twitching yet?)

In our extraverted, external process, we’re tossing about ideas and ingredients, creating as we talk. We present to our colleagues (spouses, family and friends) a half-baked cake.

Our thoughts are in transition. The more we talk, the more we understand where we’re going. In fact, we rarely know the conclusion until we’ve talked it through. We’re also known to embarrassingly blurt things out and then desperately long for a TAKE IT BACK button.

In meetings, we can use up our talking ticket without having presented a complete and coherent thought. Frustrating!

Then there are the other 50% of us who need and require space between our words. In our introverted processing, we have a slower pace of speech, with observable (and pregnant) pauses.

These pauses are not because we’re disinterested or have checked out, but because our brain is processing the information.  We Think – Edit – Think – Edit… and then speak.

In our introverted, internal process, we are often silent and expressionless until we complete our thought process. We present to our colleagues (spouses, family and friends) a baked cake. Then we take our place at the table, and express our ideas to completion. It may feel like bulldozing to others, but we’ve thought it through and will now share with you. So don’t interrupt.

The Tension Builds 

When extraverted preferences encounter silence, they keep talking because they think their introverted colleagues aren’t listening or engaged. Which further shuts-up and irritates the introverted preferences because now there’s even less space for them to think-edit and then speak.

The Tension Shifts

When we don’t recognize our energy differences in communication, we will (and do) judge and blame instead of fueling the fire of creativity.     What follows are two tips that sound ridiculously easy. They’re not. I’m in the half-baked cake camp, and regarding my tip below, I’m practically hyperventilating by the time my count reaches 10. And my beloved, introverted husband of 25 years (psychotherapist, no less)? I regularly have to ask him for a book marker in our conversation as otherwise I assume he’s not listening or doesn’t care. So simple in practice? No. But incredibly effective.

For the Half-Baked (Extraverted) Cakes:  

Count to 10 when there is silence! You will allow for the pregnant pause, and the introverted ideas to emerge.  The silence will feel wrong, awkward, tortuous – like a wasted eternity.  However, you will be richly rewarded by what will emerge.

For the Fully-Baked (Introverted) Cakes:

Use a book marker in conversation to let your extraverted colleagues know you are present, listening and engaged. Remember, they can’t see anything on your face because you’re processing internally. So they’re probably thinking the worst. Say OUT LOUD one or more of the following – regularly: Hmm…Yes…Interesting…I hear you…I’m thinking…

Baked or half-baked, we’re a 50/50 split in the population. I’m interested in joy, creativity and innovation in my conversations. If this interests you, too, give these two tips a try. In the reciprocity and exchange of our ideas, tremendous potential awaits.

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Deene Morris
About Deene Morris
Leadership is a relationship - first and foremost with yourself, and then with others. Better team management begins with better self-management because teams and systems don’t change - people do. You do. As a former entrepreneur who then spent decades in the non-profit sector, I've walked the same path as my clients. My joy and passion is to help individuals and teams at every level work better together. My clients regularly report breakthroughs in innovation, collaboration and problem solving - moving from resistance to resiliency and conflict to creative solutions.

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