Different Personalities at Work: How to Run Meetings That Work for Your Whole Team

This blog post is part of our Truity at Work series for those who are new to people management. In these posts, we’re creating useful content for managers and teams alike, helping you to understand personality, improve communication, and navigate conflict and change with ease. For an overview of the series, start with our introductory post here.

At work, we all know a well-run meeting when we see it. Where everyone is heard, no one person dominates, all perspectives are discussed, a decision is made and a plan is formed. But many of us have left meetings thinking “what a waste of time, did we even make a decision?”

Managers and team leaders are regularly called upon to facilitate meetings. While each organization has their own style and approach to meetings, there is always another factor at play when it comes to running one effectively. And that is managing your own personality, as well as others. 

We all have our own default meeting style. Some people find it easy to speak up and share their views, others less so. Some people are good at listening, others are great at interrupting. Some provide an agenda in advance, others just drop a random invite into your calendar. Some people want to debate every point, others want everyone to agree and move on. 

To effectively manage meetings, you need to know your own preferences, how they contribute to meetings, and how they undermine meetings. Next, identify some of the tactics you need to adopt to run team meetings effectively for all. Then comes the tricky part: put that knowledge into practice in actual meetings. 

Here are some suggested practices to help you balance out your meeting style. You can also use these with any team member who could also do with a bit of coaching around how to effectively participate in meetings.

Extraversion & Introversion

In meetings, Extraverts are more likely to talk a lot, and Introverts will stay silent. That’s because Extraverts need to talk it out, as a way to nut out a problem and take a perspective on something. Introverts need to think it through to fully understand their position before they will speak up, and may not feel the need to share their findings in the meeting. 

Here are some practices to help Extraverts talk less:

  • Avoid interrupting others, make a note of your thoughts while you listen until someone else has finished speaking 
  • Ask your quieter colleagues to share their thoughts
  • Allow time for quiet reflection before, during or after the meeting
  • Slow down your speech and use pauses to allow people to comment

Here are some practices to help Introverts engage:

  • Ask for an agenda in advance and consider how you will contribute
  • Maintain eye contact with the person who is speaking
  • If someone interrupts you, let them know you are not finished, just taking a moment to think
  • Aim to speak up within the first 10 minutes of a meeting, that way you have already broken the ice

Sensing & Intuition

In meetings, Intuitives are known for focusing on the big picture and only talking in high level bullets points or aspirations. Sensors are known for getting into the realistic details. That’s because Intuitives naturally see what’s possible in the future, and Sensors see what’s real in the now. And they can very easily get frustrated with each other. 

Here are some practices to help Intuitives manage what’s real:

  • Try to stay on topic, avoiding getting sidetracked by interesting tangents
  • Don’t let your mind wander when others are talking about concrete details
  • Explain your insights and hunches with more words than usual
  • Share your past experiences and expertise with the subject 

Here are some practices to help Sensors manage what’s possible:

  • Aim to summarize your main points up front, before going into the details
  • Stay focused when others are discussing new ways of doing things
  • Check for relevance when a discussion is getting too abstract
  • Ask others if they are ready to hear your concerns about the realities of implementing a new idea before you share them

Thinking & Feeling

When it comes time to make a call on what actions to take after the meeting, Thinkers and Feelers can have very different opinions. Thinkers want to focus on the most objective way forward, often based on financial metrics, data and systems. Feelers want to take account of how people will be impacted by the decisions and factor that into the chosen path. Finding a middle ground means learning how to speak a little of each other's language. 

Here are some practices to help Thinkers be more relationship focused:

  • Aim to soften your language and be less blunt
  • Focus on what you agree on first, before exploring differences
  • Make space for personal values in the meeting, yours and others'
  • Incorporate others' views into yours, recognising that the best decisions are the ones that combine the objective with the subjective data

Here are some practices to help Feelers be more task focused:

  • When speaking, aim to be more direct 
  • Contribute to the discussion even when you disagree
  • Ask questions when someone challenges your ideas
  • Recognise that sometimes tough calls need to be made

Judging & Perceiving

In meetings, Judgers are known for wanting to make decisions quickly and have a clear plan forward. Perceivers are known for wanting to discuss the options and do more research or testing before any firm plans are made. Both types can get very concerned about the other's approach, so it's helpful to try to adopt a little of the other’s perspective.

Here are some practices to help Judgers be more fluid:

  • Don’t share your opinion too quickly, allow time for more discussion
  • Practice patience while people discuss the options and choices
  • Recognise there are many good approaches to the problem
  • Allow the agenda to change and be open to adapting the plan

Here are some practices to help Perceivers be more structured:

  • Be okay with making timely decisions to keep things moving
  • Allow time to make a decision and form a plan
  • Recognise things take longer than you might initially expect
  • Be on time or early to meetings 

What’s next?

Next time you are in a meeting, start to notice what you pay attention to, using your preferences as a guide. Then pick one preference to develop, starting to practice incorporating the approaches of its opposite. Observe how team members of that preference (opposite to yours) respond.  

When everyone feels they have been able to contribute and have been heard, they are more likely to get on board with the agreed approach, whether or not they agree with it. 

To discover more, head over to the Truity@Work platform to access a range of personality assessments that are tailored around specific workplace challenges. 

Or, you can go even deeper by booking a manager debrief for yourself and a workshop for your team

Samantha Mackay

Samantha is the Lead Trainer at Truity and will shortly be a certified Enneagram Coach. She believes our personality is the key to navigating life's strangest hurdles. Despite her best efforts Samantha is an ENTP and Enneagram 7, who is always surrounded by a pile of books, a steaming cup of tea and a block of her favourite chocolate. Samantha is currently studying with Beatrice Chestnut and Uranio Paes of CP Enneagram Academy undertaking their Professional Enneagram Certification. Currently located in Auckland, New Zealand. Find her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/samanthamackay/. Check out her course "Unlocking the Power of Your Personality" at www.truity.com/training

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