Social media – how does it impact on your type?

A few weeks ago I stayed at the Bloc Hotel at Gatwick Airport, and it reminded me that I hadn’t written part 2 of my blog on social media and personality type.

Why did it remind me? Well, the transition from airport to hotel was significant. To access the hotel, all I needed to do was turn off the thoroughfare populated by some excited, some tired, some hurrying people coming from and going to their destinations, and I was immediately in a different environment. I booked in and as I took the route to my room I was suddenly thrust into a dark, quiet, relatively narrow corridor with lighting that only activated as I made my way along the corridor. It reminded me of being at a fairground and suddenly going into an enclosed attraction.

As for my room, it was small, with dark furnishings and no windows or external light, and this impact was increased due to its proximity to the airy and light airport terminal. Whilst the room was small – and possibly more like a pod than a room – the space was used well and it incorporated a lot of high tech equipment. It wasn’t unpleasant.

It immediately occurred to me that it would be the sort of room to divide customer opinion – a little like the NAP Conference on Social media did this year – and this was apparent from a quick visit to Trip Advisor. Whilst many people liked it, many others didn’t describing it as, “Fine for Hobbits”, and “We felt trapped in a tomb with no window”.

I wonder how much the Hotel designers considered psychological type when designing this very different sort of Hotel – and I wonder how much HR leaders are considering people’s psychological type when implementing new technology or social media strategies.

In terms of psychological type, one of Carl Jung’s dichotomies related to Energy Focus. Where is a person’s source of energy? People whose focus is on the outer world of people and activity are energised through interacting with people and are attuned to the external environment. Those who focus on their own inner world, however, are energised by reflecting on their own thoughts, memories and feelings. These concepts have become known as ‘Extraversion’ and ‘Introversion’ through the work of Jung, and the subsequent popularisation of his work by Myers and Briggs.

Turning to Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), one of the Motivational Traits within Shelle Rose Charvet’s ‘Words that Change Minds’ (which is based on work by Noam Chomsky and Roger Bailey) is Motivational Source – is a person externally or internally motivated? There is overlap here with Jung’s sources of energy, but differences too.  Within this model, Internal people tend to be motivated from within themselves, so provide themselves with motivation. They also tend to critique and assess their own work as they are clear on their standards and what they’re using to make the judgements. External people, however, tend to need others’ feedback and without this can become demotivated, and may struggle to continue with their work. Internal people tend not to need feedback from others, as they have their own internal standards – a downside of this being that they can dislike being managed and may ignore valuable thoughts and feedback from others.

The final tool I will refer to is the TMSDI’s Margerison-McCann Team Management Profile. I saw a person’s profile recently. This person was shown at the Introvert end of the Introvert – Extravert Work Preferences Measures. In the overall commentary it noted that this person was in a group of, “… single-minded, determined people, who like to see tasks through to the very end without distractions”, and, “You may tend to distrust people who talk well but offer only opinions, rather than detailed information”.

How does this link to the Hotel design? I would hazard a guess that whether people like the rooms or not is often associated with their Introversion or Extraversion preference – generally introverts could thrive on the lack of external activity, whereas extroverts could potentially struggle with no external energy or opportunity for interaction.

In terms of business, I have previously implemented an office move which took staff from working in small offices to all 35 staff working in one large room. Some people saw this move as really beneficial to them, and thought it would help them be more effective, others dreaded having what they saw would be constant distractions interfering with their work – some of which was linked to the theories and models described above.

How will social media and other technology impact on our Introverts and Extraverts? There will be increasing numbers of people working from home due to the availability of improved connectivity, there are already increasing numbers of internet businesses being opened and run from storage warehouses, the conference heard that at least one company had advertised jobs solely through Twitter, recruiters are placing an increased reliance on LinkedIn, abuse of (or via) Facebook is already a significant foundation and contributor to many internal discipline cases.  What else will have changed in ten years’ time? Will introverts or extraverts cope better with these developments?

HR needs to think through these developments and consider their impacts. Focusing on the home working aspect for a moment, how many organisations consider individual behavioural aspects when deciding whether or how (with what support) a person should be permitted to work from home? I haven’t come across one yet (but there is generally a check as to whether computer screens are at the correct height) – but it should be a key consideration, and would demonstrate a real interest in the diversity of staff.

Social media can make communication more accessible, but it will not deliver the extravert’s energy source. It can also allow introverts to become even less connected.

How are you addressing this?



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3 Responses to “Social media – how does it impact on your type?”

  1. Clare says:

    It’s a really interesting field for exploration Paul. Often in the environment in which I find myself working, it’s the individuals themselves who ask to have the flexibility to work from home so it would be fascinating to see how much of a corrollation there is between those that volunteer to work from home and Introversion/Extraversion preferences etc. However, there’s something else to consider in this discussion: Whenever we talk about any of the models/preferences above, it should be emphasised that these are preferences and not pre-ordained behaviours, and as a mature, sentient adult, people can choose how to behave appropriately for the circumstances. ie, someone who is introvert can and should choose a different behaviour set if the circumstances suggest that extravert behaviour is more appropriate at that time. That’s not to say they find it easier, or it requires the same amount of energy but let’s not presuppose that just because their preference would suggest that they shouldn’t work in a particular environment, that they can’t flex and do it anyway. We shouldn’t presume to be able to predict people’s ability to work with the environment that they might not have asked for. And with today’s technology lending itself more and more to being connected visually etc, then perhaps it’s not so isolating to work from home after all. Food for thought?

  2. Paul says:

    Hello Clare, and thank you for taking the time to respond with your thoughts. You have also proved beyond doubt that your trip to Orlando is work related as you have penned your thoughts during your time in Florida!

    It would indeed be very interesting to undertake the analysis you suggest – and complicated too. I was in an organisation last week and they were telling me of an individual who had joined and it was contractually agreed that they would be able to work from home for 2 days a week to assist with child care. Two months after starting, this person had requested that this increase to 5 days a week whilst accepting that there had been no change in their circumstances. In this case I’m guessing that (on the face of it) there is little to do with Extraversion or Introversion – but their influence could come into play at some point if the request had been granted.

    I also fully agree that as adults we have to make choices about the behaviours we use. And managers should treat people as adults – and my nod to “with what support” was an acknowledgement that we shouldn’t attempt to halt the growth in less traditional ways of working, but we should be having more detailed adult discussions so that they have the best chance of working. I don’t think these discussions happen in the majority of organisations.

    Many people will choose the most appropriate behaviour to the best of their ability as often as they can – but not all, I would suggest. I agree with you that they should. However, I’m not sure that all decisions on the use of behaviours within the Attitudes are conscious – aren’t many unconscious, learned over time, often used to protect ourselves from situations we are less comfortable in? This situation is probably increased in times of stress, heavy workload, etc.

    I agree that we shouldn’t presume to be able to predict people’s ability to work with the environment that they might not have asked for – unless as managers we have seen potential pointers within the workplace, in which case we should be having those discussions.

    And your final point is what I find most interesting in this debate – and where I started from when I was listening at the conference last summer … Let’s assume that people have access to all the technology you outline, perhaps it’s not so isolating working from home (or from an Introvert perspective, perhaps it’s not isolating enough), but is it – I don’t know either! Do Extraverts get the energy they require through the technology?

    Food for thought, indeed!

  3. Clare says:

    So much to say, so little time… (Friday night…. wanting to relax…after my busy week in Orlando!!!! Did you need proof that I was really working? ;-) )
    Do extraverts get the energy they require thro’ technology? Possibly not but then they may get it elsewhere in their lives, so that can be the balance they need if required to work from home. Extraverts will seek out opportunities to extravert and re-energise regardless of where they work, I suspect! And perhaps it is the way that they use the technology rather than the technology itself that lends itself to being effective for both the extravert and/or the introvert.

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