Could you be subconsciously favoring your more outgoing employees over your quieter ones? In our culture, extroversion is a highly rewarded personality trait. Being gregarious and talkative is often seen as more desirable than being introspective and reserved. But introverts bring many valuable qualities to an organization. In the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking author Susan Cain notes that introverts often have a keen sense of observation and insight. They are planners who think before they speak. And when introverts are given leadership positions, they are likely to share their power and give others the chance to express themselves.

How can you ensure that the more introverted members of your staff get the chance to contribute to their fullest extent?

  • Recognize any bias you may have about extroversion being a “good” trait and introversion being a “bad” one. Appreciate the value that both personality types bring to your team.
  • Make sure that the loudest or most frequent voices are not the only ones heard in your office. Invite your quieter employees to share their comments without being talked over by other staff members.
  • When a meeting is planned, send out a message in advance to let everyone know what will be discussed. Your more introverted employees will appreciate having the time to think about what they want to contribute.
  • If you have an open concept layout to your office, create some quieter spaces in your work environment where introverts can recharge and concentrate.
  • Don’t pass over introverts for leadership positions, assuming they would not want the role or would not be good at it. After all, Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg are self-identified introverts.
  • Realize that while collaboration and teamwork have their place, so does individual effort. As Cain says, solitude is often a crucial ingredient to creativity.

It is estimated that a third to a half of the population is introverted – which means the likelihood of having at least a few introverts on your staff is high. Don’t let their talents be overlooked or wasted. By recognizing and encouraging their unique gifts, your whole team will benefit.

For more information on the power of introverts, view Susan Cain’s TED Talk on the subject.

Susan Bryant is a writer and editor who enjoys working on diverse subject matter and collaborating on interesting projects. She can be contacted at susanbryant7@gmail.com.

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