Close the Door (Sometimes)
"We have 'closed door time,' during which everyone shuts his or her office door for a certain time period each day. We find that when employees have an expectation of not being able to disturb or be disturbed by others at set times of the day, they work harder to figure out things on their own and they are far more productive."
--Chris Green, CEO
Although this tip caught me off guard, it quickly made perfect sense to me! Workforces around the world have moved towards open door and open floor plan concepts. These concepts provide a push in the popular ‘groupthink’ and ‘collaborative’ way of learning, problem solving and creating. We all know the benefits of collaborating, they are undeniable. However, it’s important that we keep in mind that solitude is not the enemy of collaboration.
Susan Cain, the Author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” shares with her readers and audiences that “Solitude is a crucial ingredient of creativity.” She also discusses the importance of finding the ‘zone of stimulation’ that is right for us.
These are powerful words when we put them in the context of parenting and education. Are we finding the zones of stimulation that are right for our children? We all fall on a spectrum somewhere between introvert and extravert. One is not better than the other. We need both introverts and extraverts in our society and it is important that we encourage our children to be in the area of the spectrum that they feel the most comfortable. In order to do so, we have to ensure that we are allowing them to live in the zones of stimulation that are right for them.
It’s important that in our homes, communities, and schools we allow our children to foster what feels natural to them. Some children will absolutely love working in groups at all times. The energy that they gain from the group will fuel their desire to learn and produce. Others will find the task challenging and energy sapping. I am in no way saying that we need to cut out group work from our schools, but what I am saying is that it is important that in creating ideal learning and working environments we do not lose sight of the importance of creating environments where both introverts and extraverts can develop and shine in their own ways.
Therefore, whether you wear the hat of parent, teacher or none of the above, remember that our children all have zones that work best for them. As an adult, I am sure that you can point out the way in which you work best. The environments in which you feel the most comfortable. We often have zones that are seen as more socially acceptable, but we want to make sure that we are exposing our children to the ways of being that are comfortable for them and not just the society’s norms. Every society needs both introverts and extraverts, so it’s important to ask ourselves whether we are fostering both and whether we are showing our children that learning to be autonomous is just as important as learning to be with others.
When we provide environments in which our children can be themselves, they will learn how to thrive in ways that are natural to them. They will tap into and develop their gifts and talents. They will find ways in which they feel comfortable sharing them with their world. This will not only encourage the essential skills of self-awareness but help to foster leadership skills. So, I encourage you to take the time to see the ways in which your children thrive. Remember that we do not have pure introverts or pure extraverts. It is a spectrum, and the important thing is that our children feel comfortable to fit into environments within which they fall on this spectrum.