How to Have a Meeting with an Introvert

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Introverts can fade into the walls, but they often are beautiful peacocks waiting to be discovered.Anyone who knows me knows I can talk for hours about subjects that interest me. It’s hard to get me to be quiet. I’m the exact opposite when I’m in a situation where talking is mandatory, I have little knowledge, or I have little to no interest.

It’s the introvert in me. I cannot form my thoughts into a coherent speech as I’m talking, and it’s hard (if not impossible) for me to get excited about the latest NBA statistics. If put on the spot, I will panic. My brain will think of nothing intelligent to say. It goes blank. I’ve learned to prepare for such incidents, but I can’t prepare for them all. When they do happen, they aren’t pretty. I may be able to “wing it” during the question and answer phase, but I’ll leave the room feeling like a failure and thinking I’m the dumbest person on the face of the planet. It’s the perfectionist in me.

As an introvert, I need time to think. I need time to lay out my key points and to decide what facts are relevant to those points. I know that doesn’t work well with people’s deadlines or with most extroverts, but introverts need time to think. They just do. If an employer wants the introverted employee to succeed, he or she needs to remember to give the introvert some space. The employer or co-worker might also want to remember the following:

  • Create expectations. Give the introvert an agenda for the meeting. Let him or her know what role he or she will play in the meeting. Give the introvert the time needed to craft a presentation or a strategy.
  • Don’t put them on the spot. As I stated earlier, introverts don’t do well when they’re put on the spot. They may be able to say something in response to the question that has been asked, but they’re going to feel that it was an inadequate answer.
  • Above all, don’t make them feel stupid. A slow response is not always a sign of a slow wit. Introverts process things differently, and that shouldn’t be held against them. Introverts already struggle with the fact that it’s difficult for them to answer a spontaneous question. Having that inability noted only makes them feel worse – and that goes double if the introvert is a perfectionist.

Do you work with an introvert or a perfectionist or an introverted perfectionist? How do you manage communications with that person? Any tips or tricks you would be willing to share?

Photo: eleannab (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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Erin Feldman

Erin Feldman is the director of editorial services at Tenacity5 Media and the founder of Write Right. She's a copywriter, editor, poet, and artist. You can find Erin on .

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8 comments
Hajra
Hajra

I am a shrink and working with introverts is a little tough. Especially when they are bound to believe that you can't help them in any way. The way is to gradually build trust. Introverts just need time to have that faith in you and to open up and it might sound tough but you just have to give them the space and then work it from there. 

RebeccaTodd
RebeccaTodd

This is a great post, Erin! While I can be very loud and opinionated, I do need time to internalize and think things through. I love point 1- let me know in advance what you want to discuss so I can be prepared.  Another strategy is to have a quick meeting to let me know what we will discuss 24 hours in advance of the meeting.  My boss will give me a quick heads up about what he wants to discuss, then gives me the time I need to prepare.  Really helps me out! 

Erin F.
Erin F. moderator

@Hajra  Introverts are tough! Maybe it's that we treasure our solitude so much that it's hard to let people into that interior space? I think some of us are fiercely independent, too. That can't help matters.

Erin F.
Erin F. moderator

@RebeccaTodd Thanks! I was starting to worry that I'd written a post about having a meeting with me. It is, of course, but I was afraid I might have limited the subject to only myself. It's nice to know that I'm not the only person who needs and prefers advance notification.

Hajra
Hajra

@Erin F. Inner solitude and a strong filter before letting anybody into their inner circle.  

Erin F.
Erin F. moderator

@Hajra  I know. :) Now you've got me thinking about some different things.

Erin F.
Erin F. moderator

@Hajra  I feel like I just received some insight into myself.

Trackbacks

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