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Planning a Party: A Tale of Two Approaches

By Elizabeth and Katherine Hirsh,
authors of Building Your Career Transition Strategy

Harvey, who prefers Extraversion, is working on a project with Pilar, who prefers Introversion. Together they are expected to plan a party for their 14 person unit. Having been tasked with this project, Harvey begins by sharing his first impressions with Pilar. Harvey also shares his impressions with those colleagues who are in the office at that moment. At the same time, Pilar is still internally processing the request to plan the party and is feeling overwhelmed by Harvey's desire to start discussing ideas.

Pilar is also concerned about Harvey's decision to include other staff in the conversation. Pilar is worried that if staff are polled this early, before she and Harvey have had a chance to iron out the parameters, their co-workers might expect that their suggestions will be made part of the party. Pilar is concerned this may not be possible and then their colleagues will be disappointed! Further, Pilar is cautious because when she shares a suggestion, it is something she believes is important and is willing to pursue, maybe others feel the same way about their suggestions?! From her perspective, this is a real risk. Ideally, Pilar would prefer to spend time reflecting on her own first and then meet with Harvey.

If she can't have her ideal, the next best thing would be to meet with Harvey one-on-one first, before canvassing the other office staff for opinions. Not surprisingly, Harvey has a different point of view. He feels frustrated that Pilar seems to be stalling. Harvey is ready to get going. Harvey wonders why Pilar is waiting and holding back. In Harvey's mind, if they don't start discussing this project the party will never get planned. Harvey would prefer to be able to share his thoughts with Pilar as they arise and would prefer she do the same with him. Ideally, Harvey would have the opportunity to refine his thinking about the party by talking with Pilar and their colleagues. For Harvey, one of the best ways to explore a decision-making opportunity is to start a conversation with others and Pilar isn't saying very much. It feels to Harvey that she is being somewhat secretive toward him and toward the staff as a whole. He doesn't understand why she wouldn't want a dialogue with their colleagues from the start, after all the party is for them, right?!

Sound familiar? Can you see yourself in Harvey or Pilar's reaction to the party planning challenge? In this case, Harvey's preference is for Extraversion, so he typically gets his ideas, energy, etc., from external engagement whereas Pilar's preference is for Introversion, so she typically gets her ideas, energy etc., from internal reflection. Building Your Career Transition Strategy helps explain why these everyday differences arise as well as suggests ways to manage them. You can use Harvey and Pilar's story and the the information in Building Your Career Transition Strategy to help make your career transition and reintegration process more successful and sure-footed.