Have you ever sat in a meeting trying to wrap your
mind around the item that's being discussed, but are unable to
come up with any creative comments? Then, long after the group
has moved on to the next agenda items, you finally think of
something to say?
Meetings favor extroverts. Extroverted thinkers often do not
know what they think until they have said it. So, launching off
on a topic suits them just fine. Sometime later in the
discussion, these extroverts may come to their position, but no
one is the wiser. Introverts, however, don't talk for talk's
Meanwhile, it's the introvert who may come up with the most
creative ideas. It's just not at that time. Perhaps the meeting
is long over, or the topic is no longer being discussed. There
is nothing wrong with being an introverted thinker, even though
you might feel left in the dust by extroverts. The introvert's
thought process is slower because it involves longer synapses
in the brain. It may also take longer because the introvert
goes into more complexity in the process.
The introvert's contribution is a worthy one, and an important
resource within any organization. This more deliberate thinking
process needs to be described and brought to the attention of
everyone in the organization so that introverts gain the
consideration and appreciation that extroverts often receive.
Build in Practices to Include Introverts
Bosses and organizations would do well to build in structures
and mechanisms that recognize and take advantage of the
introvert and the resources he brings. For example, at the
start of the next meeting, the chairperson could specifically
ask for any additions to the discussion from the prior meeting,
making it a regular part of the meeting and the first agenda
item of business.
If you would rather not wait until the next meeting for new
information, you might consider incorporating a bulletin board
or kiosk in the office where new ideas could be filed under the
appropriate topic heading. Or, if the topic is confidential,
the involved parties could be included in email that is sent
only to participants as soon as the introverted thinker is
ready to make her ideas explicit. The point is to offer as many
ways as possible for the introvert to express his ideas.
Introverts Need to "Sleep on It"
Part of the introvert's process is to "sleep on it." This
provides him with more time to mull things over and process his
thoughts thoroughly. Even in golf, for example, the coach who
is extroverted may have a student take a certain swing
repeatedly, consuming most of the hour-long lesson. The
student, meanwhile, would do better by being able to sleep on
what he had been taught in the lesson, in order to integrate it
into both body and mind. By the next day, he might have greatly
improved on his swing just by taking the time to sleep on it.
Introverts have strengths and weaknesses. Introverts will spend
more time coming to an opinion, decision, or conclusion. And
they may tend to deliver the result as a kind of decree or
"pronouncement," as if there is no other possibility. However,
knowing of this tendency to sound imperious, they can use humor
and humility to help convey their openness to consider other