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Attending meetings as an introvert

August 7, 2011

I have quoted from Adam McHugh’s articles previously, click here and I was recently re-reading them. I really identified with what he says in regard to meetings:

My ministry colleague Mark, who has done a lot of work in group dynamics, observed that most meetings are dominated by a few assertive, usually extroverted, speakers. An entire meeting can pass with only two or three voices being heard. Most introverts, and less assertive extroverts, will not try to compete with or interrupt a steady flow of words. Mark is particularly troubled that meetings are the places where decisions are made and that the verdicts are largely determined by the outspoken minority.

What can we do to encourage introverts to speak, without putting them on the spot or imposing undue pressure on them? One simple thing we can do is give people a meeting agenda several days before a meeting, so that those who need to think before they speak will have the opportunity for prior consideration. In the meeting itself, we should establish ground rules for group discussion. We need to be clear that we are not only here to give our opinions but also to listen to one another, so it’s bad form to interrupt one another.

The most fruitful strategy that I have employed has been inserting personal reflection time into a meeting. When an important decision needs to be made, I have given people time to step outside of the room and consider their individual opinions. When introverts have had time to process internally, they will be more likely to share their thoughts in the group.

~Adam S. McHugh is an ordained Presbyterian minister, a spiritual director, and an introvert.

by Susan Barnes
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Susan Barnes

~ writer of insightful posts about God and faith