Whether they are your employees, your customers, your suppliers or your co-workers, introverts are everywhere. Often more quiet and calm then their attention-commanding counterparts, introverts tend to work differently to extroverts. They favour smaller groups, often shy away from attention, and need to have time alone to feel energised. In order to foster great relationships in your small business, here are five simple tips to help you work better with introverts.
1 Give introverts time to think and respond
Unlike extroverts, introverts often have difficulty coming up with ideas or answers on the spot. They need time to think in order to prepare a well-crafted response. Demanding an instant reply from an introvert can be a source of frustration on behalf of both parties. Introverts are not quick thinkers, but instead, they like to have time to process their thoughts. While they may appear quiet or more subdued, don’t assume they don’t have anything to contribute. Instead of calling them out in large groups, approach introverts one on one, and always give them plenty of time to prepare.
2 Be quiet and listen
If an introvert is naturally quiet or softly-spoken, they can often get steam-rolled in large group settings. Instead of speaking over the top of them or cutting them off, give them time and space to share. Many introverts are not completely comfortable speaking in front of large groups, but this is often an unavoidable part of the workplace. In order to bring out the best of your introverted co-workers or employees, always listen to what they have to say and be encouraging. You might find that the quietest person has the most insightful thought to share.
3 Don’t plan too many meetings
Introverts value their time, space and energy. This is part of the reason why introverts don’t enjoy meetings that don’t have a clear agenda or a desired outcome. Introverts want their work to count and feel most productive when they are at their desk getting through their tasks. In order to respect their time and space, it’s important to only invite them to meetings where you feel they can contribute. Be mindful of how an introvert may feel, and respect their need for personal space and time to complete their tasks well.
4 Add variety to your social calendar
For many, a boozy lunch where everyone is invited can be the ideal wind-down after a big week of work. But for an introvert, a large group gathering can quickly become overwhelming and a cause of anxiety. Often more comfortable in a more relaxed setting, introverts tend to gravitate to events with a smaller number of people. In order to keep everyone happy, it’s worthwhile shaking up the social calendar to include some more laid-back events. Introverts often enjoy gatherings with activities, so conversation isn’t the only focal point of the evening.
5 Be flexible
If your workplace provides quiet rooms or break out areas, you may find these are often inhabited by introverts. Introverts work best in quiet and peaceful environments, where they can work on their to-do list uninterrupted. As a business owner, it’s important to offer flexibility to your employees who may need it. This could include letting employees or freelancers work from home occasionally or ensuring you are providing a quiet and low-stress work environment.