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Teamwork—Dealing with Quiet People

No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a boy.
ANONYMOUS

Most people are either extroverts or introverts. Extroverts tend to be more outspoken and usually think aloud. They talk before they think. Introverts think before they talk. Sometimes, they think so much that they don't talk at all. But thinking often enables introverts to have wonderful ideas. It would be a tragedy if no one canvassed the idea from these less talkative people. Here's how to draw introverts out:

IN MEETINGS

    • Give introverts time to think. Let them know ahead of time what issues will be raised at the meeting.

    • Give people a chance to write their ideas down before they call them out. This will give the introverts time to think.

    • Suggest a round robin. Say, "Let's go around the table to give everyone a chance. If people don't have an idea, they can say ‘pass.’ "

    • Watch the body language of the introvert. While introverts are typically more difficult to read, they sometimes give a clue that they have an idea. Their mouths begin to open, their eyes light up, or they lean forward. If you suspect that they have specific ideas, ask them for their thoughts.

    • Suggest making the introvert the recorder. By standing up, the introvert will be more likely to interact with the group.

OUTSIDE MEETINGS

    • Approach the introvert for ideas. Plant the seed by describing your problem. Then approach him later to find out what he thinks.

    • Value her ideas anytime they are volunteered by thanking her — regardless of whether you like her idea.


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