In a culture where speaking up and sharing ideas are highly praised, an introvert may find it difficult to thrive. That’s why we need to find effective ways to make introverts on our team feel valued and heard.
It’s easy to segment people into introvert and extrovert, but that’s not exactly accurate. Carl Jung, the famous psychologist, said there are no pure extroverts, or pure introverts. We all fall somewhere inside the spectrum.
According to Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, one out of every two or three people can be described as introvert. In any office of more than 3 people, there is at least one making the most of their potential in a more quiet, solitary environment.
The challenges an introvert faces at work
The problem that most introverts face today is that most workplaces are built to stimulate extroverts and their specific capabilities. Think about how most offices are designed: everyone is working in a crowded open space, with no walls. Extroverts are probably the ones seeking more conversation. While introverts feel like they are constantly interrupted and unable to perform their job. Let’s look at some of the common difficult situations faced by an introvert.
Imagine putting on your introvert glasses and look at your company’s routine. Can you spot any context in which being an introvert is extremely stressful? At first glance, I found five situations that need to be tailored to respond to an introvert’s needs.
1. Start with the interviews
As an employer or a manager involved in the recruiting process, it’s important to quickly distinguish between extroverts and introverts. Give the right job to the right person, but test them in a way that lets them show their best side. I don’t mean favoring one over the other. It’s just that there are ways to get the best of them by accommodating their needs. For example, a written test would be a more suitable way to begin an interview with an introvert.
2. Re-design meetings
As researchers at the Kellogg School of Management highlighted, in a typical six-or eight-person group, three people do 70% of the talking. Those are probably the extroverts that feel at home speaking in front of others. While there’s nothing wrong with that per se, on the flip side of the coin, that means that the introverts don’t get to share their ideas.
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There’s only one solution: cut down the number of meetings and consider other ways people can share their opinion or talk about ongoing projects. Research shows that almost 40% of the average employee’s time is spent in meetings, or writing emails, leaving them too little time to do actual work. By reducing the number of meetings, you can actually increase your entire team’s productivity.
Recommended reading: 10 Ways To Spot Inefficient Meetings (Before They Happen)
You can try using an instant collaboration and communication solution, such as Hubgets, to make the process of sharing ideas and solutions more accessible for introvert team members. They will feel much more comfortable to speak up in a group chat – we call them Topics, than in an actual live group. No stares, no stress.
3. Re-design presentations
From time to time, we all have to stand up and let others know what we’ve been working on or what we should do next. These are probably some of the most difficult moments for some of your team members. No wonder, some people are more afraid of speaking in public than of actual death.
You can make life easier for them by providing them access to an instant collaboration and communication app. Hubgets has great sharing capabilities, allowing you to send out any type of file, of any size.
Generally, when working with introverts, it’s recommended to let them communicate in writing whenever they need to. This way, you allow them to focus on what they are doing best, without adding unnecessary stress to their work life.
4. Acknowledge success and failure in private
I guess we’ve already established how introvert people are particularly uncomfortable in public settings. To that point, giving them feedback in public is probably the worst situation they’d have to face. If you want to set them for success, make sure you share your suggestions privately.
5. Be flexible about the way they work
I mentioned earlier how the open-space environment might be challenging for people who are at their best in a quiet zone. Unwanted interruptions and the general noise are very disturbing factors for an introvert.
Acknowledge this particularity and allow them to book meeting rooms for special projects. The technology we have on our hands today, specifically the communication platforms, enables us to have remote meetings and simply work from anywhere. So why not take advantage of it?
Eleanor Roosevelt, Gandhi, Albert Einstein – there are so many iconic figures in our history who have, at some point, described themselves as timid or quiet. They spoke up not because they loved being in the public eye, but because they were driven by an idea or a purpose.
There’s frankly no limit to what an introvert can do, so if you’re lucky enough to be managing such people, make sure your actions and decisions help them grow.