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I was talking to someone recently about a conversation she had with her line manager who suggested that she should contribute more in team meetings, and this set me thinking……


There are many reasons that people may not contribute in a meeting, and these include:

  • Being uninterested in the topics being discussed
  • Generally not being engaged
  • Not feeling confident enough to say anything
  • There not being a culture whereby everyone’s opinions matter


But for the person I was talking to, none of these applied, it was merely the fact that she is an introvert in a meeting full of extraverts.


So to explore this further, extraverts often speak before they think, and may be seen to hog the conversation. They like to talk through their thoughts. Introverts on the other hand will want to think through their ideas before sharing them with the group. And may therefore be the last to comment on a topic, or even the meeting will have moved on to the next topic before they have had the opportunity to share their thoughts.


One way to ensure that introverts get their say is for the chair of the meeting to ensure they are included, and this will require them to have a good understanding of each of their team members.


I ran a programme recently which relies on reflection and discussions in the workshops and sharing ideas and experiences. I know that one of the delegates is an introvert, and we talked about this on a one to one basis. To enable him to contribute effectively, I committed to ask for his ideas if he hadn’t said anything, but not to ask him first as I recognised that he would need time to think through his answer before he gave it, so putting him on the spot straight away would not get the most out of him, and would make him feel uncomfortable. In addition to this, I know that introverts like reflection time, so I make sure that my workshops provide time for this as well as discussion.


We often equate extraverts with success, but I know of at least one very senior person within the business world who is often mistaken for an extravert, but in reality is an introvert. He has learned that there are times that he needs to demonstrate extravert behaviours, but that these are learned behaviours and not his natural preference.


My message today is don’t underestimate the power and talent of an introvert just because they don’t speak up in a meeting. They have the same contributions and great ideas as an extrovert, but they may not speak up about them as readily.


If you are interested in learning more about introversion and extraversion, there’s a great book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.


I am a qualified Myers Briggs practitioner and I help clients to understand their personality preferences using the Myers Briggs Type Indicator tool. My clients tell me that understanding their personality preferences helps them at work and at home.


If you’d like to learn more about your own personality preferences, please get in touch. Contact me