Sunday, 6 December 2015

Yin & Yang

This week I was asked to speak to say goodbye to my colleague. In front of many, I wanted this 2-minute speech to be humorous but also authentic. I spoke with another colleague about how to begin. She commented on what she had heard me say… 'She’s the Yin to my Yang’. While I knew what I meant, I took some time to reflect and wondered how to describe it best. I thought of all the surface differences we have-
  • She’s young and I’m not.
  • She’s petite and well... I’m not.
  • She’s a beginning teacher and I have more experience.
  • She’s more reserved and private and me?…not so much.
This led to me thinking about introverts and extroverts and if you think extroversion relates to how outgoing someone is and introversion is the same as being shy, then that would represent the Yin and Yang I talk about. But there is a misconception about extroverts and introverts. The true meaning is-
  • Introverts (or those of us with introverted tendencies) tend to recharge by spending time alone. They lose energy from being around people for long periods of time, particularly large crowds.
  • Extroverts on the other hand, gain energy from other people. Extroverts actually find their energy is sapped when they spend too much time alone. They recharge by being social.
I read this week that interviews work really well for extroverts and not so much for introverts click here Imagine if a company or school was entirely comprised of extroverts? But I knew our differences were at another or deeper level. And I know what you’re thinking. When you hear differences, you automatically think we don’t get on. You are so wrong!
I reflected on a post I wrote at the beginning of the year- “It’s not my work, it’s my passion”. Here I blogged about my thinking preferences. After completing the survey, I fell within the red/yellow category and I believe if my colleague completed this survey, she would be green/blue. So what does all this mean?

In essence, my weaknesses or challenges are her strengths. 

The green personality is generally referred to as the calm personality. They don't easily get frazzled and are the essence of calmness even in most stressful situations. Their strengths are-
  • Organised
  • Sequential
  • Planned
  • Detailed
  • Implementer
The blue personality are seen as the perfectionists. They are the ones who would generally examine the smallest details of every situation and fret about each one of them.
Their strengths-
  • Argue Rationally
  • Generalise from specifics
  • Problem-solve logically
  • Critical Analysis 
So I now understand why we need to have various personalities and strengths within organisations. Previously, I thought I worked best with educators 'like me', but this perception has been challenged. Now I believe we need to utilise people’s strengths. Balance appears to be key. Teams could be balanced to work more effectively. Utilising Visible Thinking Routines-

I used to think …that I typically work best with someone ‘like me’.
Now I think… that an effective team requires a balance of personalities.

Through analysing our relationship, I learnt something and I need to thank my wonderful colleague for proving to me that having different personalities works very well. The concept of personalities covers a large gamut and I’ve only observed one element. I'm also thinking that sometimes, you just click with someone and the magic just happens. A colleague no more, but simply my friend.

Always learning,


  1. Hello Andrea,

    Something for me to keep in mind.... "interviews work really well for extroverts and not so much for introverts". Have you got a link to the reading?

    Also, this post got me to ask......Why do teachers who plan, prepare, deliver and evaluate work as team, grow so much? Answer..... It must be the yin and yang multiplier effect.

    Thanks for the read, Andrea. Always Learning!


    1. Thank you Greg. You always take the time to provide feedback and I so appreciate that. Teams and collaboration are so complex. I searched for reasons why we worked well together. I've linked the article to my blog now. Thanks again.

  2. Maybe that is the strength of disciplined collaboration, the 'Yin and Yang Multiplier'. I feel that the Humanities team has worked really well this year because we each bring something different. I often come with dreams of granduar, desires for heutogogical dream. Not a no, but I am often challenged on the what ifs and what abouts. In my view, this critique and inquiry only makes the idea stronger.
    Can't remember who it was, probably David Culberhouse, who spoke about creating teams who challenged each other. My only challenge on the 'Yin and Yang' is that I think that there are more than two facets to the story.

  3. Thanks for taking the time to read & comment Aaron. I agree Aaron-so much more to the story. I also believe you have to have some commonalities. We found our similarities and bonded over those.