What Your Introverted Employees Wish You Would Do Differently
Updated: Dec 20, 2022
A script for introverted workers - a todo list for extroverted managers
If you are a manager, you would have noticed that in meetings, there are usually one or two of your members who don’t speak up (much), don’t seem terribly engaged, and appear to be in no hurry to contribute to the flow of conversation, even when invited to do so.
Why is this so?
It could be that they are introverts.
Contrary to popular belief that introverts are shy, socially awkward, and/or lacking in confidence, it is more accurate to say that introverts have a different way of gaining and depleting their energy, as well as a different way of processing information.
Very briefly, introverts gain energy through solitude and deplete their energy when around other people. They also require more time to process information as their brains are wired differently. Having observed how introversion shows up in the workplace and how it can be negatively perceived or misunderstood by management and co-workers, here are some unspoken truths that your quieter employees wish you knew.
Please join me in welcoming Serena Low as our Beyond Introversion guest blogger. Serena has such passion and determination in advocating for introverts. She offers sage advice through her podcast and coaching and career mentoring business. Check it out!
The aim of sharing these is so that ultimately, everyone on the team - leaders and members of all personality types - can understand and relate to each other in ways that enhance self-awareness, respect, acceptance (of differences), trust, collaboration, and mutual cooperation.
Please don’t ambush me by asking me questions in a meeting and expecting an instantaneous response. I need time to think things through and I communicate much better when I’ve had time to process my thoughts, as this enables me to come up with a well-considered, well-researched response. Being ambushed, on the other hand, makes me feel flustered and anxious.
If facilitating group discussions and brainstorming sessions, please allow extra time for introverts to reflect and then respond. For instance, you could allow time for each person to think over your question by themselves, and time to talk it over with a buddy, before inviting everyone to speak up in the group.
Please make sure meetings are properly chaired, with an agenda and an end time - random gatherings with no purpose, no structure, and no end time are unproductive and a waste of time that I could have used for research and writing.
I prefer doing deep focus work in a quiet environment with no interruptions, and for that, I need quiet spaces - not open cubicles or an open plan office where people can just walk in and ask for a meeting / ask my opinion / ask for help. (For evidence of the benefits of deep and uninterrupted focus, please see Deep Work by Cal Newport.)
I prefer one-on-one interactions or small groups to large group discussions where a few people (usually the same ones) continually dominate the conversation and talk over others.
If I appear quiet in a group discussion, it’s because I am listening, observing, and taking it all in, and I will speak up when I perceive the need to or when I have something I feel is worth articulating.
I prefer deep and thoughtful conversations on a topic I know and care about, to small talk and aimless conversation about something I don’t know much or care much about.
I don’t usually like being in the spotlight, so please give me notice if you plan to spotlight me, even if it’s for a good cause, like crediting me for my contribution to a project well executed.
I am capable of delivering an engaging and effective presentation - as long as I have had adequate notice so I can do my research. I like feeling well-prepared so you can be certain I won’t be winging it, but will come armed with the necessary facts and figures and interesting anecdotes to share.
I can be a good leader, but not in the stereotypical sense of what a leader looks and sounds like. My style is quiet, nuanced, inclusive, and facilitative involves listening more than talking, being considerate of everyone’s opinions, and being authoritative in a low-key, non-threatening way.
I am great with detail - you can expect me to notice and call out exceptions to the rule, loopholes, typos, bad grammar, confusing or misleading statements, links, and buttons that don’t work and to actually read the terms and conditions.
I set high standards for myself and others, and can be a bit of a perfectionist - this is an asset to the team and the organization as I tend to overdeliver on what is expected.
I need regular alone time and time to recharge to be at my best - hustling and “go go go” doesn’t work for me, so please keep meetings short, factor in regular breaks when planning all-day or multi-day team events, and don’t make Friday drinks compulsory
Thank you very much.
P.S. If you are willing to meet me halfway on these points, I promise to do my best to be more visible and outspoken in future meetings and projects!