If you want to get more from the introverts in your team, this site has many ideas to help. A good to start is to better understand introverts.
Some people believe introverts are a problem group and many view the word introvert as negative. When I first started my research programme about introversion, I discovered that many introverts don’t call themselves introverts for just that reason. It’s also why many introverts are hiding in plain sight.
Common introvert myths
There are many myths about introversion, These myths can affect the way we consider staff and make it harder to get the best from the. Common introvert myths include:
- Shy, antisocial, lacking confidence, weird, prickly, party-poopers, boring, reserved.
- Then there’s the myth that introversion can be fixed if you’d just speak up! If only introverts opened up more and chatted more easily, they’d make it easier for others to understand them
- You’re either an introvert, or an extrovert. There’s a spectrum, it’s not an either/ or.
9 points to help understand introverts
The following are stereotypes, so they’re not all present in the same way for introvert. Ultimately a good leader understands individuals, labels may help us to get there – but labels are only labels!
Understanding introverts is important if you’re to get the most from your team as statistically they make up about a third of your staff.
- People energy: In a group of people, introverts feel like their energy drains away. It’s like an old mobile phone, you can charge it quietly all night, in the day when you want to use it the charge may hold for a while, or not long at all. .
- Talk to think or think to talk. Introverts use internal processing and extroverts external processing. Neither is right or wrong, they are different with different implications. Introverts think to talk and extroverts talk to think.
- Getting it right: Introverts tend to need to think about things and get them right. That, combined with internal processing means they’re not as good at off-the-cuff responses and “winging it”
- Easier to understand? Extroverts may be easier to understand, they tend to let everything hang out there. Introverts tend not to share their inner thoughts as readily (and certainly not on command or with anybody). This can make introverts harder to understand. Don’t just tell an introvert to express their feelings, or tell them how to feel, if you want to retain their respect (it can be done differently)
- Reflective. Introverts tend to be more reflective and internally focused. That can be good (they need less boosting up and “stroking”, they have internal validation), but it’s possible to be too reflective!
- Confidence: Introverts tend to have a confidence from their detailed knowledge, it’s normally an internal confidence, rather than their ability to rapidly handle interactions. That doesn’t mean that can perform on stage, lead groups or entertain. They’ll prepare and work on it, then need to recover their “people energy” afterwards.
- We like to party: Well., maybe….I’m not just talking lively energetic parties, but work/ semi social events (in fact they can be worse). Introverts do like to socialise, but maybe more quietly and their “people energy” may run out early.
- Hiding in plain sight: Introverts often feel under great pressure to conform to the extroverted ideal and in many cases will (consciously or semi consciously) adopt extrovert traits so they’re hiding in plain sight.
- Solitude and reflection: An introvert desire for more “me time” isn’t antisocial, or a sign of depression. It’s restorative. One of the most annoying things you can do is keep asking if they’re OK (and here’s another similar 6 questions)
Introverts DO mix with extroverts
Good leaders develop a good team around them, a balanced team of introverts and extraverts will improve your business. Extroverts, here’s why we like being around you:
- Energy. We like your energy. When we feel secure, know the subject, feel it’s appropriate and have people energy left, we’ll join in too! But we respect that there are times when your energy is vital in a company.
- Conversations: You keep you keep the conversation going, thank you. Let’s be honest, introverts don’t always do it!
- External processing: We like your external thinking; at times it helps us. But loud brainstorming isn’t always the answer. Don’t expect us to join in all the time.
- High level thinking: We know that sometimes 20 levels of detail is too much, and you can help us focus. But please accept that sometimes that detail is needed!
- We like your spontaneity. Sometimes if you’d give us a little more respect and understanding, life would be great.
After understanding, think about your meetings
The most common place where communication, company culture and introversion meet, with difficulty, are internal meetings. Culture and communications are in your control as a leader. You may like to review the way you run meetings, so your meetings make things happen and involve the whole team. Here’s some more ideas
- Spotting an introvert, hiding in plain sight
- Pumping up your team?
- Does it take longer to manage introverts?
Ben Drury, otherwise known as "The Culture Guy" is an expert in company culture. Ben knows a thing or two about culture. Here's what he said about company culture and introversion.