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The Power of the Introvert

Over the last 15 years I have worked with 100s of fortune 500 companies helping them build and bond effective teams. This is done with a unique blend of offsite interactive events and in-house focused learning workshops. One of the things that always intrigues me is observing the power of the introvert in any team.

In her book Quiet: The power of Introverts in a World that can’t stop talking, Susan Cain says that one in three people are introverts, That means 30% of any team don’t say anything because others are talking for them.

The psychologist Carl Jung says that we are all a blend of introversion and extroversion to varying degrees depending on the situation. Sometimes it may look that because someone says nothing that they have nothing to say but if left unchecked this resource can be squandered in a team or relationship and the wisdom of the real listeners are lost.

3 tips to avoid this debilitating dynamic:

 1. If you are an extrovert, in your next meeting try talking less, and listening more, you can do this by taking a pen and a piece of paper and try to capture as much of the meeting as possible. Also start to notice the reactions of others to what is being said. In this state of heightened awareness you will be surprised at the meta signs that reveal themselves to you and give you a better understanding of the situation.

2. If you are an introvert, in your next meeting try writing down what you would say if you were going to speak… you never know what may happen, you may be so compelled by your ideas that you may feel the urge to speak. However if not, when you are asked for your input, you now have a neatly organised catalogue of your ideas to vocalise.

3. Here is another technique I have used it to gain great results in mixed teams of introverts and extroverts. Propose a challenge and divide the room into 2 areas, those that want to think and write down their ideas and those that want to brainstorm out loud. Each group has 30 minutes. At the end of the session, representatives from each group gather their respective ideas and presents them to the whole group. This takes everyone through the process of thinking, writing, speaking and ensures no ideas get lost in the noise.

4. If you manage a team of introverts and extroverts, take them out of their normal environment for an offsite team program you may just be surprised. We have a self-professed introvert in our team who sat in the office diligently working away for a year until we organised our offsite, imagine our surprise when we set up a karaoke session and she took to the stage and belted out hit after hit with no holds barred. Today, this person is our chief of operations, that´s the power of the introvert.

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