Over my career, I’ve had the fortune to be a part of many meetings. Ok, maybe fortune’s not the right word… I should have said that I’ve been forced to be a part of many meetings. Throughout the years, comments have been made about how quiet I am. People say they wish I would speak up more and share what I’m thinking/feeling more. I would guess, if you’re an introvert, you’ve heard many of these same comments.
Because of this perception, the organizers and leaders of the meetings can begin to exclude you from future meetings. And, as AWESOME as that may seem, it’s really not the right move. Excluding introverts from meetings doesn’t increase the value of the time together and it certainly doesn’t lead to a better end product.
The easiest kind of meeting to exclude introverts from is a creative meeting. I remember being asked to sit on a committee that was to select a new marketing firm for the organization that I worked for. It was a big task. An important task. A highly creative task. I was honored to have been asked to sit on this committee. We looked at print materials, websites, marketing/promotion campaigns. We discussed branding, colors, marketing philosophies, and so on. We sat through pitch after pitch from great companies from all over the U.S. It was a great process to be a part of…but it would have been an easy process to be excluded from…being an introvert.
What I’ve found is that there are some definitive reasons to include introverts – especially when it comes to creative meetings/processes. Here are a few of them:
- Introverts keep the meeting moving forward.
We are usually the agenda setters and able to recognize when a conversation has gone on an unrelated tangent. We see processes clearer than most and understand what it takes to get everyone from step A to step B in the most efficient way.
- Introverts don’t get distracted by the hype of an idea.
I’ve seen it a lot over the years. An idea is presented that a couple of people are overly excited about it and the group can’t move past that one idea. Everyone gets excited and the conversation is stalled. Often, this can lead to an off-topic idea being the final idea or it can stifle the environment to the point that the best idea may not be the one chosen. Introverts do not tend to get caught up in the hype and emotions of a good idea and can help the group move past the excitement and on to more and better ideas.
- Introverts are able to succinctly summarize information.
We tend to sit back and listen. We take in information and we don’t have to be the first one to speak up. In fact, we prefer to not be the first one to say anything. We are puzzle people. We can take a large amount of random pieces and put them together to formulate a good plan…or at least a good next step. We collect, process, and analyze information like ninjas.
- Introverts say what they mean and mean what they say.
When I communicate, I carefully think through what I’m going to say. Often, people can get impatient waiting on a response. But, I want to be sure that the things I say are accurate and meaningful. I have worked with my fair share of folks that need to think out loud. So, the first thing that comes out may not be exactly what they mean or feel. An introvert can be counted on for meaningful input each time they speak.
- Introverts find ways to include everyone in the conversation.
I am often aware of those who are dominating the conversation during meetings. This is usually far worse during creative thinking and planning. Those that consider themselves the most creative think that they have the best things to contribute. As an introvert, since I don’t often speak up immediately, I can walk away from meetings without sharing my ideas. So, I am also aware of those that have said nothing during a meeting. Introverts can help you point out someone who’s said nothing and ask them to contribute to the conversation.
Have you found these things to be true? What other reasons would you add to the list? Add them in the comments below…