The Horrors of an Introverted Team

introvertMeetingI thought I had finally struck gold.  For the first time in my professional life, I was on a team of introverts.  Could there be anything better?  No small talk or forced socialization.  Just thoughtful, quiet people who don’t suck you dry of all your energy.

Wow, was I fooled.

A team of all introverts is the most difficult thing to work with.  Ever.  Worse than a whole room full of extroverts.


Because we’re all quiet.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my team.  All the guys are great, and each contributes a lot of the projects we work on.  There are a plenty of accumulated brains in the group.

We chat, tease and enjoy each other, one on one.  We can even joke a little out loud over the phone in team meetings.  But once we get down to the nitty gritty of business, the talk stops.  Completely.  Except for the host of the meeting.  Just like in the graphic, we’re all in our own thought bubbles, but no one is speaking out loud.

Quiet.  Silence.  Pensive dead air.

Then we end the meeting… and the emails and texts start flying with all the ideas and comments that should have happened out loud during the meeting.

Now I know the frustration that extroverts feel when they have to interact with us.  The worst part of it is, I don’t know what to do about it.  If anyone has any great ideas, please pass them along, because I’m stumped.  How do you get introverts to speak up in a meeting filled with introverts?

And hope that you never end up on a team of all introverts.

Hi.  I’m Chris.  I’m an introvert.  All of my postings tend to reflect my introvert world in some way or another.  Join me and like minded introverts for a special slant on the world.

12 thoughts on “The Horrors of an Introverted Team

  1. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a group that’s all introverts. With that said, I’d probably want to speak. But maybe addressing each person and asking about their thoughts may work. Unless you tried that.

  2. I work in software dev, so most of the teams are introverts. What works is the Scrum approach. At the beginning of the day, everybody gets together and take turns to talk about what they did yesterday, what they are planning to today, and if they have impediments that blocks them from doing what they’re planning. On a more brainstorm-y type of meeting, it’s useful to give everyone their own post-it pads and pens, throw the question/problem, and give everyone some time (not too long, around 5 minutes) to write their ideas/thoughts on their post-its. The notes are then collected on a board, and everybody takes turn in explaining in detail about their ideas.

  3. It might be difficult, but I’d sure like to try it for a day or two at least. We have someone in my office who never shuts up. He’s so annoying that under my breath I’m always cursing him. I put headphones in and listen to music while doing my work so I don’t have to hear him. But I still do!

  4. Yikes… Hadn’t even thought about that dilemma before. o.O I will admit to having talked one on one to some of my more listening coworkers about issues, and then they bring up those issues at a meeting. So, I appreciate my extroverted friends and coworkers. There has to be a balance in there somewhere. We need each other.

  5. Love the post-it idea we did it in our team building sessions when I was working and it helped everyone take part in the conversation.

  6. So interesting. I can think of a couple ideas that might help. First, let everyone prepare for the meeting ahead of time and let them know specifically what they need to think about/have prepared. Then structure an agenda that gives each person the floor so that they don’t have to step out of their comfort zone and assert themselves inside a group. That way there is a designated time and expectation that they’ll speak up.

  7. Pingback: The Introverted Team, Part 2 | 61 Musings

  8. Well, meetings were never made for introverts, I would say. I would certainly ‘speak up’ at length if it were a hosted group on the internet, communicating to others in a written discussion, but face to face, what if they ask you to expand on your proposal? Wouldn’t you have to talk for even longer? Online discussions are common nowadays, it may be a way to approach introvert ‘meetings’!

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