An Introvert’s Guide to Groups (part 1 of 7)

By Tom Davidson

As an introvert, group work can seem daunting! In this 7 part series, let me help work you out of your shell and get with the group! 

As a strong introvert, I always dreaded how much of my grade in school was dependent on “class participation,” and it was an early developmental opportunity in my job later on, especially when I became a supervisor. If you recognized any of the following, you too might be a candidate for my Introvert’s Guide to Groups:

• You’re the last to speak up because you’ve had to think things through while others were thinking out loud.
• By the time you get into the debate, the ship has already sailed on important matters, and you’re ideas are too late to be taken into consideration.
• You have a hard time getting a word in edgewise because everyone is talking over one another and the available “air time” comes in nanosecond intervals.

Contemporary organizations depend heavily on effective work being conducted in team settings, so managers of every personality type need to learn how to manage themselves (and the process) to get the work done effectively.

An Introvert’s Guide to Groups

1. Take an active part in the discussion as early as possible. While many team members prefer to think things through, others tend to think out loud, giving them the advantage of establishing attention and “air time.” Introverts have to make contributions while still formulating their thoughts. To do this, try:

  • Asking questions to establish your position as a full-time group member while gathering information
  • Suggesting ways that the process should proceed, even while the content is unfolding
  • Taking on some role to help the group, such as acting as scribe, but don’t let the group count you out as just being the “note taker.” Say that you’ll be taking notes and participating. Once established as team player, let someone else take the role of scribe.

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