One of the best ways to be inclusive of diversity in the workplace is to hear the thoughts, ideas, and feedback of others. This ensures that your business stays fresh and innovative when creating new or updating current products and services. We talk about listening to those of different genders, races, religions, and other backgrounds; these are the obvious diverse voices among us. But, we are also impacted in the workplace by different personalities.
While extroverts are eager to share their ideas in meetings or group brainstorming sessions, introverts may not find voicing their opinions in group settings easy to do. Sometimes introverts can be seen as uninterested or not as invested in the company’s wellbeing because they’re quieter than, and not as forthcoming with ideas as, their more vocal colleagues.
In Susan Cain’s Huffington Post article, “5 Insights for Introverts Who Want To Thrive In The Workplace,” she offers different solutions to help introverts feel more comfortable and confident when sharing their ideas in different settings—from job interviews, to meetings. One tip Cain shares in the article is particularly helpful for inclusive leaders.
In meetings, where the objective of the meeting is to share information, inclusive leaders can seek to gather information from introverted attendees by having everyone write down one or two ideas to share prior to the meeting, Cain suggests. Many people are uncomfortable with coming up with comments on the spot, and introverts often don’t feel comfortable sharing their thoughts in these settings. Having people brainstorm one or two points prior to the start of the meeting can help to alleviate this anxiety, she says.
Then, she says, the meeting leader can go around the table and ask each person to share the feedback that they wrote down previously. This technique can help to keep extroverts from controlling the meeting, and will also encourage introverts to speak up and be heard.
Having one-on-one meetings with employees may also be a better platform for introverts than larger group meetings. Let employees know that if they have ideas they don’t feel comfortable sharing in meetings, they can always come to you after the meeting or later on in the day to talk about their ideas.
Inclusive leaders take the time to evaluate and understand the different personalities in the office. A meeting may be a great place for extroverts to share ideas, but it isn’t always the best platform for introverts. By only listening to the louder voices in the office, you might not be getting the ideas you need to keep your company growing. Creating a culture that encourages everyone to take part in shaping the future of the organization is key to business success.
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