I came across an interesting book called “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain. The book discusses how introverts can bring a different kind of value to the workplace. This topic is very interesting to me since I sometimes work with organizations who have a high percentage of introverted or quiet people.
Among other things, extroverted people get energy from being with other people and introverted people are just the opposite – they can feel exhausted by being too much with other people. They prefer to think before talking. When asked what they would like from their extroverted co-workers, the most common response from quiet people is that they wish that extroverts would talk less, so that the introverts could think and have a chance to formulate a response. Probably all of us have been in a meeting where someone who seldom speaks says something and it is really worth listening to. Extroverts will often be thinking out loud as they are talking whereas the quiet people like to think things through before they say something. Generally speaking, organizations often depend on quiet people to do things right and take care of the details, but their great ideas do not always get showcased.
There are some good tips for the quiet people, such as planning ahead before a meeting or conversation, or perhaps joining a speakers group to gain more skills and confidence while “thinking on their feet”. However, perhaps there are tips that we could also give to the extroverts to result in more contribution from everyone. It starts with awareness of how others prefer to contribute. For example, providing others with details on what will be expected before a meeting can help. Many times it can work better in a meeting if people are teamed up in pairs or small groups to discuss a topic and have someone present back rather than putting everyone on the spot. In the smaller group, there is a better chance for a quiet person to state their ideas.
Some of us can swing from being a quiet person to an extroverted person or vice versa, depending on the situation. It is worthwhile to notice when that happens and to plan for the situation. Generally, if we are more familiar with a topic and the people involved, we tend to be more talkative.