As a highly strategic person, my tendency in group settings is to stay quiet and listen. I sit back, take it in, hearing all the options and opinions. I process the pathways each potential decision would lead us down, and determine the best option. All of this happens in my mind, and my particular set of talents always drives me towards a clear and logical resolution.
You might not guess this from meeting me, but I’m also half-introvert (I’m literally right on the middle bar between introvert and extrovert on the MBTI). This means my “default mode” for speaking up really varies. If I’m coming into a situation as a subject matter expert, I’m more apt to let my voice be heard. If not, I’m usually content to listen.
It’s taken me awhile to understand these things about myself. That’s probably true for you, too — our “default modes” of operating are usually a mystery to us (they’re more in the dark to us than they are to anyone else, that’s for sure). The good news is we can take deliberate time to shine a light on them.
Lately I’ve been challenged to speak up more. As mentioned, sometimes this is easy. But other times, it’s not. But what I’m realizing is that I could be doing my group a great disservice by staying quiet.
If you’re a quiet person, this is probably true for you, too.
The world isn’t really built for introverts — or even half-introverts, it turns out. Our society is much more comfortable with the gregarious and outgoing, with those who easily speak their mind and feel comfortable running the show. You’ve certainly heard the adage that the loudest voice is the one that gets heard, and many times in our day-to-day lives, this is exactly how it plays out (think of the last group setting you were in).
The problem is the folks who speak loudly don’t always know what they’re saying.
I’m sure you’ve noticed this. Nobody’s right all the time, and this includes those with booming voices. But here’s the kicker — if you, or I, don’t speak up, our group could take some real damage.
Please, stand up and be heard. The world is missing your voice.
P.S. For more great research on this topic, read the book Quiet, visit thepowerofintroverts.com or download a wonderful interview with Susan Cain here.