Introverts can often get short shrift in an office dynamic where sometimes it’s the loudest that gets heard most clearly.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful in business as an introvert – Bill Gates, JK Rowling and Albert Einstein all classed themselves as introverted.
But sometimes, you’ve got to find ways to make yourself heard – especially in meetings.
In a meeting, as well as any social situation, introverts feel more comfortable keeping quiet, whether due to a lack of confidence or out of respect for people they perceive as higher ranking than them.
Sometimes you might have something important to say, but struggle to get the words out. As the meeting goes on, the longer you stay quiet, the harder it is to speak up. Try saying something early – anything. Share a joke with a colleague, comment on the weather or simply say hello to everyone.
A good tip is to go with pre-prepared questions, such as ‘what are we hoping to get from this meeting?’
Introverts tend to be good listeners. They’re happy to absorb and analyse what’s being said. Use this characteristic wisely.
While everyone else is talking over each other and forcing their views on their colleagues, listen to what’s actually being talked about so you can get to the root cause of any issues.
This will also help you find something to say. Sometimes introverts hold back because they feel they have nothing to add. But asking the right question can be just as useful as coming up with a solution.
It also gives you the chance to become a moderator. Because you can see what the issues are, you can point out that two of your colleagues might have the same problem but are coming at it from different angles. Or, you might see the bigger issue that everyone is avoiding talking about.
Find a friend
Being introverted doesn’t necessarily mean being a loner. You’ll have friends in the office, so when you go into the meeting use this friendship.
You may feel more comfortable talking with them directly, so try and respond to their comments.
If you want to speak up, give them a look. As a friend they should understand and pass the floor to you.
Problems introverts often face in a meeting include feeling they have nothing to add to the discussion. Extroverts are happy to give their opinion even if it adds little to the meeting, while introverts prefer to only speak up to further discussions.
You can get around this by going to a meeting fully prepared. Know the subject and have a few ideas ready to go. Try and get them in early if possible but don’t worry if you can’t. If you’ve done your work you should have enough material that you can pipe up at a time that feels comfortable.
Working effectively and efficiently alone is one of the introvert’s best qualities – use this to your advantage by following up after the meeting.
If you’re not comfortable talking during the meeting, take plenty of notes. Analyse and work through them after and see if you can find solutions that weren’t mentioned during the meeting. Then send around an email with these solutions.
Posted by Sara Cano