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)