Ever wonder why the introvert on your team isn’t talking?
Introverts can be highly creative. They have original ideas. They think things through thoroughly. You need to hear from them.
Chances are, if they aren’t sharing, you’re missing out on some good participation.
Here are seven reasons they may not be talking:
1. Everyone else keeps talking. Most introverts aren’t going to talk over other people. They’ll wait their turn. If it doesn’t come, they won’t share.
2. You are rushing the answers. You don’t give them time to process. Introverts take time to find the right words to say. If you press for quick responses, they’ll likely share less. That’s true in brainstorming, too, where you’re looking for many responses.
3. There are too many people, especially extroverts, in the room. If there are plenty of “talkers,” an introvert will let others do the talking. Again, they won’t interrupt. If introverts are easily outnumbered, they are usually silenced.
4. You have them in an uncomfortable seat. Maybe they were late to the meeting and all that was left was an awkward front-row seat. Not happening. They won’t likely share if they feel they are being made the center of attention.
5. They’ve got nothing to say. Perhaps it isn’t their subject. Introverts aren’t as likely to talk about subjects they know less about as an extrovert is. Their words are typically based on thoughts they’ve processed longer, so if it’s a new subject, they may still be processing internally.
6. The conversation isn’t going anywhere. Introverts aren’t usually fans of small talk. If too much time at the beginning of the meeting was about nothing they consider of great importance, then you may have lost their interest.
7. You put them on the spot without warning. Introverts are often NOT opposed to making a presentation. (The “not” is capitalized on purpose.) The myth is that introverts are always silent. Not true. Or that they have nothing to say. Not true, again. They simply want to be prepared before they share.
Of course, this means you need to understand the team you’re trying to lead. Who are the introverts—the true introverts—on your team? They may have thoughts you need to hear. Your challenge is to create an environment conducive for hearing from them.
Edited note: I always receive push back from introverts about brainstorming. (Remember, I am one. Fairly extreme one.) I don’t think the problem is brainstorming but rather how we do it. The process is too important not to do it, and the collective thoughts are too important to miss anyone. We don’t get an “out” of everything uncomfortable because we are introverts. No one does. We just have to adapt, and leaders have to get better at leading everyone, which is the point of these posts.