Based upon psychological surveys of well over a million people, we can safely conclude that about half of us tend to gain our energy and focus our lives primarily inside, on our inner thoughts and feelings. Folks who tend toward “introversion” are not all shy, but it is as if we have an on going experience – of both thinking and feeling – that is introverted. While our counterparts, the “extroverts,” tend to express their thoughts and their feelings, and be caught up in external happenings, those of us who prefer introversion spend more time and energy reflecting, weighing, considering, and mulling.
Last week I was working with a start up company, and according to the Myers-Briggs instrument, as well as the participants’ self-description, six of the eight tended toward introversion. To a facilitator (or a boss running a meeting), that can be quite challenging. The participants’ faces were not very expressive, for it was as if their mental energy was folded in, and they were probing, wondering, perhaps debating in their own minds, and measuring ideas against their experiences and intuitions. Similarly, their emotional side was well contained, so often their faces did not show enthusiasm nor frustration nor rebelliousness. I had to guess.
In your own minds’ eye, you might imagine the team you work with, and have a pretty good guess as to which members prefer an introverted approach to life. Meanwhile, if you prefer introversion, it might be helpful to know that much more often than you imagine, people are unsure of what you are thinking or feeling. That can be challenging. So a word of advice to introverts and to those who work with introverts*:
To those who tend to introversion I’d say: work hard to ensure that the team gets the full value of your ideas and feelings. You may think a boss or one of your coworkers is great, but unless you tell them they may never know it. You may think you have an idea that’s good, but your natural instinct will be to keep thinking about it to get it right. But sometimes it’s important to share it – even if you don’t think it’s all thought out – so that others may benefit from it in their thinking. In short: get it out, express it, share the valuable thoughts and feelings you have inside!
To those who work with us sometimes frustrating introverts I would say: ask us, draw us out, and gently remind us that we have something to offer and you would love to hear it.
Introverts need to be reminded to share the value in order to…
Lead with their best self,