(This is Part 4 in The Liberatiing Leader at Work series. Read Part 3 here.)
I sat in an amazing meeting not long ago, when two of the top executives in an agency got to the boiling point in terms of understanding each other. I don’t think I’d heard language like that since I’d been a sailor. (And since I’d never been a sailor, I guess I could confidently say that I hadn’t heard language like that in a board room ever!) Fists were pounding the table. I kept my distance so I wouldn’t be harmed and could write this post.
Introvert vs. Extrovert
There was a lot of stress there, with multiple layers of he said/she said, and all-in-all it was a healthy time, because the issues aren’t being buried anymore. But what I most observed, and what I most want to share with you, has to do with what happens under deep stress.
Short version: Under deep stress introverts become extroverts, and extroverts become introverts.
Remember that introversion/extroversion has to do with where we get our energy. Are we battery powered and love the world of internal dialog, or are we solar powered and love the world that is outside of ourselves? Which place do we love most? If we know that much, we can be on top of things when stress goes over the top.
What Happens Under Deep Stress
I’m extroverted, so under extreme stress I turn inward. You can tell. I stop breathing, and you can see it in my eyes that I’ve just checked out. It happened to me a week ago when I saw an unhelpful text message. Extroverts turn inward under extreme stress.
In this week’s stressful meeting, the normally calm and cool introverted leader turned into the amazing Hulk. He is a kind and loving successful businessman, but in this context, something came out of him and he blew a gasket. Introverts turn outside of themselves under extreme stress. (It could happen in the privacy of their own space. They could say some uncharacteristic things out loud, and they could pace and grunt and snort.)
Lots more to say about this. But for now notice that you have an early warning system. If you see yourself turning uncharacteristically inward or outward you’re already on your way to making better moves. More to come about that next time. Stress is part of life, but it doesn’t have to control you.