7 Reasons Why The Introvert Is Not Talking And The Team Misses Out

Men Holding White Board in Business Presentation

Ever wonder why the introvert on your team isn’t talking?

Introverts can be highly creative. They have original ideas. They think things through thoroughly. You need to hear from them.

Chances are, if they aren’t sharing, you’re missing out on some good participation.

Here are 7 reasons they may not be talking:

Everyone else kept talking – Most introverts aren’t going to talk over other people. They’ll wait their turn. If it doesn’t come. They won’t share.

You are rushing the answers – You don’t give them time to process. Introverts take time to find the right words to say. If you press for quick responses, they’ll likely share less. That’s true in brainstorming too, where you’re looking for many responses.

There are too many people, especially extroverts in the room – If there are plenty of “talkers” an introvert will let others do the talking. Again, they won’t interrupt. If introverts are easily outnumbered they are usually silenced.

You have them in an uncomfortable seat – Maybe they were late to the meeting and all that was left was an awkward front row seat. Not happening. They won’t likely share if they feel they are being made the center of attention.

They’ve got nothing to say – Perhaps it isn’t their subject. Introverts aren’t as likely to talk about subjects they know less about as an extrovert will. Their words are typically based on thoughts they’ve processed longer, so if it’s a new subject, they may still be processing internally.

The conversation isn’t going anywhere – Introverts aren’t usually fans of small talk. If too much time at the beginning of the meeting was about nothing they consider of great importance, then you may have lost their interest .

You put them on the spot without warning – Introverts are often NOT opposed to making a presentation. (The “not” is capitalized on purpose.) The myth is that introverts are always silent. Not true. Or that they have nothing to say. Not true again. They simply want to be prepared before they share.

Of course, this means you need to understand the team you’re trying to lead. Who are the introverts — the true introverts — on your team? They may have thoughts you need to hear. Your challenge is to create an environment conducive for hearing from them.

Edited note: I always receive push back from introverts about brainstorming. (Remember, I am one. Fairly extreme one.) I don’t think the problem is brainstorming, but rather how we do it. The process is too important not to do it and the collective thoughts are too important to miss anyone. We don’t get an “out” of everything uncomfortable because we are introverts. No one does. We just have to adapt and leaders have to get better at leading everyone, which is the point of these posts.

Go to my 7 suggestions post for ideas for each of these to get the introverts sharing.

What other reasons do you know that keep introverts from sharing in a meeting?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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21 thoughts on “7 Reasons Why The Introvert Is Not Talking And The Team Misses Out

  1. Great article! I am an innie, INTJ on the MBTI, and brainstorming works for me. I agree with the author on his point about collective thought. For me it works only when its with people I trust and know they understand the – project/problem what have you – as I do. I get to super focus on the details and analyze things to death when I am problem solving alone, so other people help me get out of my head and look at the big picture when we bounce ideas off each other. Its a very organic process, and it works :)

    • I, too am INTJ-and I'd agree with the "people I trust" factor completely! At my place of employment, I've been fortunate to have an extroverted leader who is good at developing and advocating for others-and who is always looking for new ideas. She and the others on the management team have taken note of some specific abilities of mine-and have expressed a desire to have me use them for the team's benefit. Because they want what I have to give, they are willing to give me what I need to use these abilities. Thus, I feel more comfortable brainstorming. Plus, I work with many intros, so I don't have to deal with the "talking over others" part of it! Lucky me!

  2. Ron, love the post and the upcoming series of posts. Some of our supervisors (in a ministry context) are all reading Susan Cains book. It's been a big eye opener, to both the introverts and the extroverts who are either leading them or being lead by them. At least the introverts all love the book. ;) ~ "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking"

  3. Having been married to an introvert for 38 years, I would say if he thinks “it’s too much effort”, he won’t bother!

    • Interesting. I can see that. Probably some qualifiers there of why there's too much effort and I think good leadership can overcome that. Thanks for sharing.

      • Interesting comment Laura…I have that feeling sometimes, but Im not sure if its "effort" or if its confidence knowing I will be able to do a great job and not just avg. For me, its more of "strengths" conversation as competitiveness is one of my stronger personality traits. The downside of it is, if I dont think I can win, I may not try. (which is not an excuse, but something I need to consciously observe. Thank you for the transparency.

        • Very good. Thanks! Actually, that “if I don't think I can win” is also a characteristic of most men (and many women) whether they are introverted or not. Most men will not attempt something if they don't think they can do it. Women seem better at dealing with failure it seems at times. We should learn from them :)

  4. I somewhat agree with the brainstorming part a bit – I recently was part of a group at which we had a weekend to go over some information and come back with some ideas when we first met – too often it becomes a case of one person – the introvert – coming with all of the ideas and everyone else coming completely empty handed. From there it neither goes into making the introvert the "leader" because they had the ideas (%$&#), or people just throw out ideas on the spot and marginalize what was prepared ahead of time.

  5. Great list! Very comprehensive. I would only add one: Please don't brainstorm! Talk about putting us on the spot! You me tioned it a few times, we need time to prepare, brainstorming is not allowing us any time to process any of the information we have heard up to that point.
    Twitter: bryankr

    • I hear you but somewhat disagree. I don't think the problem is brainstorming but how we do it. Too important a process not to and too important of collective thoughts to miss anyone. We don't get an “out” of everything uncomfortable becasue we are introverts. Just have to adapt and leaders have to get better at leading everyone. 

      • I would like to apologize for having waited so long to respond, I don't always get the opportunities I would like. I have to ask, how does one adapt to something like brainstorming? I don't mean to sound condescending, but I don't get it! I also believe that you should reach out and tackle the things that make you uncomfortable. Small talk is another of those annoying things that make me uncomfortable and am incapable of doing! I tried to learn, tried to enlist the help of others in learning! I still cannot do small talk. It seems to me that brainstorming is not something you learn. Or is it?
        Twitter: bryankr

        • I think you can learn it. You can certainly adapt to it. Write down the topic. Checkout from the conversation to “introvert”. Then come back to the discussion with brilliance.