I recently ran a session with a group of introverted leaders and we talked about some of the things that can frustrate introverts about extroverts – and mean they (extroverts) don’t get as much from the introverts as they could. This blog is a summary of some of the elements we discussed and is a companion piece to an earlier blog written by an extroverted colleague about the problem with introverts.
Too Much Talk – No Time to Think
We know that extroverts need to ‘talk to think’. We are not looking for you to remain silent (because effectively that is asking you not to think). However, sometimes the ‘noise’ of your thinking gets so loud it stops us from being able to process our thoughts and to contribute. A little more quiet time for us to process and think would allow us to contribute more readily. As you know, introverts work best when they have space and time to think things through. We think more clearly (and quickly) when we aren’t bombarded by follow up questions or lots of ‘thinking out loud’.
Lack of a Plan or Detail
Sometimes it feels like you are making things up as you go along. We know it’s important to be fleet of foot and responsive, but asking us to make decisions on the hoof and to commit to things we don’t know much about and haven’t had time to think about, makes us nervous. Give us a bit of notice or some more information about your ideas to think about for a little while and we will be much more inclined to be supportive and enthusiastic about them. Spring them on us without much warning or time to get used to them and we are likely to come across as a bit defensive or negative due to our desire to understand before committing.
Don’t Assume Something is Wrong or We Have No Opinion if We’re Quiet
When we’re quiet it probably means we’re thinking about something. It doesn’t mean we are upset or don’t understand, or that we don’t have a view. It simply means that we have ‘gone inside’ to get our thoughts together so that we can provide you with a meaningful response. If you break our thinking by asking ’Are you ok?’ or give us your view rather than wait for ours, don’t be surprised if we withdraw.
Imagine if someone talked loudly over the top of you as you were thinking (out loud). It would be a bit annoying and likely to stunt your thinking. Well if you talk over our ‘quiet thinking’ you are effectively doing the same thing. Just give us some time and space.
However Don’t Change (Too Much)
We are not looking for extroverts to be less extroverted. We value your energy, your ability to network, your optimism and your assertiveness among other things. We know that, although you may not always admit it, you value our listening, attention to detail, follow through and teamwork etc.
The trick for both introverts and extroverts is to value our different approach to things and to continue to look to understand each other and create the conditions that allow each of us to function to our highest potential.