The Introvert Vs the Weekly Team Meeting
(Japanese Govt Weekly Team Meeting above..)
We’ve all been there before. The weekly project/team meeting where the loudest voice gets the attention, no one is listening and everyone is desperate to get their point across – all at the same time. Blame, accusations, battle lines are drawn, voices are raised, tempers flare.
And there you are…. the introvert… quietly at the table… you got the great idea, heck, may even have the solution to the problem. But can you make yourself heard in the cacophony of competing, posturing egos?
“Well I’ve been thinking….”
“We could ….”
Or there’s my favourite which is where someone starts speaking over the top of you while you’re mid-sentence… “Oh I’m sorry – did the middle of my sentence get in the way of the beginning of yours?” Unfortunately that witticism remains unspoken and you just fade out, give up speaking and leave feeling humiliated and under appreciated. Again.
Aborted attempts at getting your message across in the melee may leave you frustrated and potentially leaves the team where they are. However, the team needs your input. It’s valuable, constructive and thoughtful. That’s what you’re paid for. That’s what you do.
So how do we, as introverts, make ourselves heard at those meetings?
Sadly, no one is going to magically stop the noise to listen to what you’ve got to say unless there is a serious cultural change in that room and organisation.
As the introvert it’s up to you to change that culture from that of the ‘squeaky wheel gets the grease’ to one of actual ‘inclusivity’ where people are afforded the luxury of respectful silence while ideas are shared and discussed like civilised human beings. This of course is what every organisation SAY they do, they may even have it written in their values somewhere… more often than not though, it’s a paper-value, not an actual value that people do in real life.
People are not mind readers and unless you articulate what you need, and reinforce those needs, they’re going to continue on their merry way, doing exactly what they’ve been doing for years. Their perception of you may be ‘that quiet guy/woman/person in the corner who doesn’t say anything, week after week… if they notice you at all. Unfortunately, no one has any idea of what you need unless you tell them. This goes for professional and private worlds.
Here’s a few tips to gently but assuredly get yourself heard at these meetings:
At the beginning of the meeting, or before the meeting, make it known that you’ve got something of value to add. Make sure you add it.
If possible, make sure there’s a spot in the agenda to give you the space to speak (if they follow an agenda). Follow this up with the person chairing the meeting. If the agenda has gone out the window, address the chair to bring back to task.
Write what you want to say in bullet points so it is clear and you can cover everything you want and if you’re interrupted, you can come back to that point without getting the stress-overload that often happens and we forget what we’re saying and possibly look like a flustered twit (or think we do, which adds to the stress and so on and so forth).
When you’re interrupted, be polite and respectful and say something like “that’s a good point – can we park that somewhere/take this offline (insert own suitable phrase here) to discuss later so we can finish discussing this?” Try not to sound angry/irritated/annoyed by the interruption. Then continue.
It’s up to you to speak up and have your say in a way which is equally respectful of others without being aggressive or emotional. No one else can do this for you. And remember, you have every right to speak up – you are a valuable member of the team.
Eventually, people will learn to listen to you – when you open your mouth to speak, they’ll stop and listen. This takes time as all cultural change takes time – but it’s got to start somewhere, and it’s got to start with you speaking up in the first place.
And remember – if nothing changes….nothing changes.Back To News Stories
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