We’ve all been there. Sitting in a meeting and a few people are dominating the conversation. It almost seems like they’re the only ones in the room and that everyone else could quietly sneak out and no one would notice.
And, as an introvert, we’ve heard the questions a million times. Why didn’t you speak up? Why didn’t you contribute anything to the conversation. Why were you so quiet?
As I’ve said before, it’s not an introvert’s natural tendency to speak up in a large group. If given the opportunity, an introvert will gladly not speak up in a meeting and will in no way be offended or put off by that fact. But, I am also a firm believer that everyone’s opinions matter. In fact, I think that a team has a better end product if everyone at the table gives input.
But, with introverts in the room, it can be difficult for the leaders to get them to speak up. It can be like pulling teeth. And, when you call on an introvert to give input, they can often say something like “I have nothing else to add” or “I agree with so and so.” But, if you want to greatly increase the engagement of introverts in a meeting, here are 3 keys you may want to make note of:
1. Send out an agenda ahead of time. The more time you give an introvert to think about what’s going to be discussed the better. An agenda gives the introvert time to formulate their thoughts, research things on the agenda, and garner input from others. Accuracy is usually vitally important to introverts so the more time they have to have an accurate answer formulated, the better.
2. Give introverts a moment to think. Even when an agenda is sent out ahead of time, introverts still need a moment to think. If others have given input already, they may need to compare their own response to the one(s) already given. So, don’t call on the introvert first. Or, after asking the question, just give 30 seconds for everyone in the room to come up with their answer. Don’t mistake an introvert’s silence with apathy or ignorance. They often just need time to come up with an informed response.
3. Show that you value their input. Once an answer or response has been given by an introvert, don’t de-value the things that they’ve said. In fact, communicate to them (both verbally and non-verbally) that their input was and is valuable. Even if you don’t take their suggestion, thank them for giving input and encourage them to continue to speak up. Also, after the meeting/moment is over, pull them aside and reinforce their decision to speak up and take the risk of ridicule.
If you’re an extrovert, I bet you’re saying to yourself that we introverts are very high maintenance. And, you may be right. But, at the end of the day, there are a lot of introverts out there and our goal should be to find ways to work together – cohesively and collaboratively. These are a few ways that you can set the stage for a higher level of engagement and participation. I hope that you’ll take these and use them.
Introverts, how does this list strike you? Is there anything you would add? Comment below and let me know your thoughts…it’s ok, take some time to think about your response… 🙂