Let’s be honest. Nobody really likes group work. There’s always the team member who doesn’t do anything and the one who unabashedly (and perhaps undeservedly) assumes the leader role. For introverts, collaborative work is even more daunting. When there’s several people pitching ideas at once, it can be easy to feel unheard. However, collaborative meetings are also incredibly important to grow, generate new ideas, and keep your team on the same page.
Here are six tips to help any introvert excel in a group work setting.
Managers like to hold brainstorming meetings where everyone discusses some issue and spits out their solutions as they come to mind. Where introverts may best be able to jump in is at the close of the meeting, when it’s time to volunteer for the actual work that has been discussed. Don’t be afraid to be the first to raise your hand for tackling a new project. Some extroverts love to talk and brainstorm, but when it comes to actual implementation they back down. Though you may not have pitched many ideas, you can impress everyone by being the first to say “I’ll do it”.
Listen and Repeat
Introverts are natural observers. In team-building exercises, extroverts often just wait until it’s their turn to speak, instead of truly listening to others. Serve as an “idea builder” by sharing back what you’ve heard. By taking in the information that everyone puts out, an introvert is able to aggregate the best ideas and take every team member into account.
Plan way ahead
Spontaneous meetings can be the stuff of nightmares for an introvert because they need time to prepare. If you know what the meeting is about beforehand, take time to prepare your input so that when it’s time to deliver, you have a rock solid idea pitch. This way, you’ll avoid the risk of using your few chances to speak on an incomplete idea or, even worse, one that you don’t really like.
When you speak, make it worth it
Take time to gather your thoughts before speaking. You can’t possibly plan for every single thing that you’ll say in the meeting, but you should take a second and make sure you get it right. There are times when you’ll want to strike while the iron is hot, but that takes practice.
Build rapport with team leaders
When leaders are familiar with their team members’ working styles, productivity soars. Make sure that your leader is aware that you don’t thrive as well during the fast-paced brainstorming period, and perhaps suggest a change that will allow you to get your thoughts across.
Consider asking the leader to allow you to establish a cue for when you’d like to speak, like picking up your pen or straightening your papers. Or, establish a one-on-one meeting before or after each larger group session to share your thoughts and ideas without competing with louder voices.
Find work that champions your strengths
Though this isn’t always possible, working in an environment suitable for your work style and personality cannot be stressed enough. Introverts usually prefer more quiet or autonomous work, so working somewhere with constant team-building activities and collaboration won’t allow them to thrive. Instead, clearly-defined goals and time to solve problems alone are key.
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