Six things you can do if you work with an introvert

I’m an introvert and wherever I’ve worked in the past there have always been challenges with being based in an office environment, quite apart from those typically experienced by the open plan office. However along the way I’ve learned there are a few things I can do to help myself. But that’s for another blog post! Instead, in this article I’m going to suggest six things, based on my own experiences, that others might consider doing if they know they work with an introvert.

1. Allow space for reflection 

Give introverts the opportunity to think without interruption. I find that when someone asks me something it helps if I can get a few seconds to reflect on the question, and silence works best for me rather than filling the space with more questions. Sending a query by email rather than calling also helps. The result will be that when I do respond it will usually be well thought through and considered. 

2. Help colleagues connect with others

Try bringing introverts into social conversations too where you feel it is appropriate. I sometimes find it hard to join in office chat particularly half-way through, finding it easier to listen rather than participate. However when someone includes me by asking me what I did at the weekend or whether I watched a particular TV programme for example, it makes it easier to join in and connect with colleagues.

3. Share a meeting agenda in advance 

When I have to go to a meeting, which is quite often, I really appreciate knowing what is going to be covered in advance. Having a meeting agenda helps, and if this shows information about who else is attending, then that’s even better. Having this information helps me prepare and reflect on things beforehand, and knowing who else is going to be there gets me thinking about the discussions that might come up which are not on the agenda. 

4. Meet one-to-one 

Consider whether you could have a one-to-one conversation instead of a large meeting. As an introvert I find it much easier to speak up in small groups or with individuals and that’s when I’ll share some of my best ideas. 

5. Understand introverted colleagues 

Understand that being quiet doesn’t always mean a lack of confidence. When I reflect on something it can make me seem indecisive or hesitant which isn’t the case. I am simply considering things and thinking them through. In addition, I might be quiet because I need to concentrate on a specific piece of work without interruptions and not because I’m ignoring my colleagues!

6. Value quiet colleagues 

Take time to recognise and value the quiet ones and all they do. I’m not at all comfortable with promoting myself, drawing attention to myself or putting myself forward, which means there is a chance that me or my work will get overlooked. However it still feels great to be recognised for a piece of work.

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