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Communication Styles: How to Mentor the Introverts in Your Organization

Janice Chaka

Just because someone isn’t a loud, confident person, it doesn’t mean that they cannot bring something positive to your business.

Some of the most successful people in the world are introverted, notably J.K Rowling, Bill Gates and Abraham Lincoln.

They didn’t allow their quiet nature to hold them back, and nor should others.

Just because someone isn’t a loud, confident person, it doesn’t mean that they cannot bring something positive to your business.

Considering that about 50 percent of the population identifies as being introverted according to Susan Cain, if you disregard them, you’re ignoring half of the population, this is 75 to 120 million in the U.S. alone, and the benefits that they can offer you.

People often mistake introverts for shy, socially awkward people who cannot thrive in the workplace, when in fact they can actually help your business run more effectively.

Just because they don’t instantly speak out in meetings, it doesn’t mean they don’t have some well thought out ideas up their sleeves.

You just need to know the best way to relate to the introverts in your company, in order to get the most out of them.

This article will give you some tips for that.

1. Circle Back to Introverts

If you know that someone is more of an introvert, give them the time they need to come up with the right solution to problems.

Ask for their opinion at the end of a meeting, or better yet, afterwards so they don’t have to speak in front of others. Once they’ve had time to think, you’ll get a much stronger answer.

2. Play to Their Strong Points

Introverts are great at research and observation, so consider this when delegating tasks. It’s much better to give the introverts the jobs they will thrive at, as you will get much more out of them.

Better yet, get the introverts and extroverts to work together, to get the best out of everyone at all tasks. Research has shown that combining the introverts and extroverts on tasks is one of the most successful ways to complete projects.

3. Allow Time for Recharging

For introverts, simply being around people can be exhausting, and you don’t want this to impact on business productivity.

Allow a time and a space for employees to take a moment out for them to recharge their batteries. You will notice a positive difference because of this.

Respect this, and ensure that all of your other staff members respect it too. Actually, a research study in the Washington Post has found that allowing this time to recharge helps extroverts too, as it gives them time to regroup.

4. Try Them in Different Roles

Research has found that a lot of people actually relate better to salespeople who are introverts because they listen better. This is a role that is typically given to more extroverted members of staff, but it may be worth rethinking.

If you mentor your introverted members of staff in the right way (as shown below) you may be able to convince them to try it. If you don’t put too much pressure on them, you may find yourself surprised.

5. Allow Your Staff to Build Meaningful Connections

Introverts work much better with people that they’ve built meaningful connections with. Small talk causes them to switch right off. Think about this when you’re designing team building events or planning ways to get the to office run more effectively.

6. Give Pre-Designed Tasks

If you allow your introverted members of staff to think over and plan their projects before the next meeting, they will have much more to say about it.

Putting them on the spot won’t help either of you. If you can make these meeting one-on-one, then even better. The smaller the audience, the more introverts are likely to say.

7. Remember Virtual Communication

Introverts can often express themselves better on paper than in person, so wherever possible, communicate with them via email or a channel that allows them to do that. The responses you’ll get will contain much more detail and information, saving yourself time and effort.

8. Become Their Voices Where Necessary

Sometimes others just need reminding to listen to people without cutting them off. Extroverts gain momentum by bouncing ideas off one another, whereas an introvert might simply shut down once they’ve been interrupted.

It may just take a gentle reminder from the boss to ensure that this happens.

9. Focus the Conversation

When you’re in a business meeting, or discussing something with an introvert, keep the chat to the task at hand. Going off on tangents often leaves your introverted members of staff feeling overwhelmed, having taken nothing in. This saves you time anyway.

10. Avoid Unnecessary Surprises

Springing something on your employees, even if you think it’s exciting, won’t go down well with your introverted members of staff. It’s likely to cause unnecessary stress and pressure. Allowing time for planning will be much more effective.

So as you can see, although introverts may appear on the outset as harder to work with, their productivity levels are just as high, if not higher, when given appropriate tasks.

When mentoring them within the workplace to get the most out of them, just remember these following points:

  • Don’t use small talk. This will instantly lose their attention.
  • Be calm and considerate when speaking; don’t bombard the introvert with a ton of information all at once. Allow each point to be fully discussed before moving onto the next.
  • Listen. Introverts chose their words carefully, so each one is meaningful.
  • Ask searching questions, and give them time to answer it.
  • Allow them silence if they need it. This is time used for thought and consideration.
  • Don’t push them into larger groups, as this will cause them to shut down. Groups of two or three are ideal.
  • You could even ask the introverts to mentor the extroverts on certain things. This will give everyone within your workplace a consideration for a new way to work.

If you allow them to be themselves and to work in a way that suits them, you will quickly see how beneficial introverts are to have around the workplace.

When they are quiet, they are thinking and they take extremely well to the tasks that your extroverted members of staff wouldn’t enjoy.

Having the right mix and balance, and helping everyone with their individual requirements will make for a happier and more productive workforce.

Image Credit: fizkes / Getty Images
Janice Chaka Member
Janice Chaka has over 10 years of international HR experience and is the founder of HR consulting company JC Global Services. As a part-time digital nomad, she is a great fan of promoting virtual working and paperless offices. Author of Events for Introverts: The how-to-guide to networking