Are Your Meetings One-sided? Harnessing the Power of Introverts.

by Tracey Ward

It's funny how we all 'know' good communication is two way and yet we often don't put this great knowledge into practice. Meetings are a classic example of this.

If we look for a moment at our beautiful introverts...

Introverts love the detail, are great at analysis, are happiest on email or in quiet pursuit of work, and tend to think they are doing everyone a favour by being quiet in meetings and listening to the conversation at hand. And to an extent they are right. Listening is a great skill, we need more listeners and less people interrupting unnecessarily.
 
Here's the rub though for introverts; if they aren't contributing in meetings then why are they there in the first place? Is it simply an information grab?
If so, surely someone could save them the time and simply email the information to them. 

Introverts should verbally participate in meetings 
 
If the meetings are more than an information grab for introverts, then it is the responsibility of the introvert to be heard, and for meeting leaders to include them. Introverts should be in the habit of verbally participating in meetings and often the only way to do this is to interrupt the flow of conversation. 
 
Now, I've spoken to enough introverts to know that most have the view that those that interrupt in meetings are just time wasters.  Sometimes that’s true - there are many meeting time wasters, like people that interrupt simply to hear the sound of their own voice, or people repeating stuff because they weren't listening in the first place.  
 
But, interruptions can be really useful in meetings. They can help get the conversation back on track, they can broaden the view point of the group and help make a better decision, and they can offer support to the person speaking. It is these type of interruptions that introverts should be embracing, where they can make a real difference to a meeting and it's outcome.
 
A win-win situation

And it's not only a win for the meeting, it's also a win for the introverts' personal brand. Silence doesn't also necessarily signify smart, it is more likely to signify you don't know, where as participation gives introverts the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and knowledge in front of others and not in front of a computer screen.
 
So for those beautiful introverts out there - start getting out of your comfort zone and participate more in meetings. 
 
And for those energetic extroverts who do most of the talking in meetings, here's a thought to leave you with, 'if you don't know what an introvert is thinking, perhaps you haven't stopped to ask them.'