being an introvert at work

An Introvert’s Guide to Collaboration: Surviving Meetings

My job requires lots of meetings, and my calendar is never empty. I have standing weekly and monthly meetings with my supervisor, team and other departments, not to mention other meetings on the fly, team lunches, outings and company events.

And it just so happens that I’m an introvert working at a company with a passion for collaboration. In fact, PGi lives and breathes teamwork across conference rooms, conference calls and online meeting rooms every day. Just watch our PGi Guy mascot to see what I mean.

But meetings are traditionally structured for extroverts. Large groups are a source of energy for extroverts, not us introverts, and we need more time to reflect before speaking.

Whereas my extroverted teammates thrive best off of chatter and group brainstorming, I’m definitely not the loudest voice in a meeting, and sometimes getting a word out of me is like trying to crack open a can without a can opener.

So if meetings are so distressing, why am I working at a company that practically runs on them? Well, everyone needs collaboration skills not only to get by but also to get ahead.

As we talk about a lot on this blog, the future of work is all about collaboration, even if you work in coding or graphic design, and no job will shelter you from the increasing interaction that companies demand across roles.

Collaboration Rules to Survive Meetings

So how do you survive the ongoing, colossal wave of meetings at your company? Here are my three favorite tips for the introvert’s guide to collaboration:

  1. Don’t drink coffee. You know all those articles about the productivity benefits of coffee? That doesn’t apply to us. Recently, a theory’s been kicked around that because introverts are already more sensitive to environmental stimulation, the addition of caffeine throws you way over the optimal level. Though no one sees you bouncing around (zoom, zoom!), you’re easily distracted by tons of thoughts and worries instead of focusing on what your fearless leader’s saying. Just save the java for later.
  2. Try brainwriting. Because introverts thrive more from solo time when it comes to idea generation, we need to find ways to brainstorm on our own terms. Experts suggest brainstorming alone before meetings to avoid the aggravation of thinking on the spot. Besides making these types of meetings easier, this approach also helps teams deflect from the unoriginality of groupthink.
  3. Set a goal. Offer one idea. Ask one question. Take notes and send a follow-up email. Whatever it may be, setting a goal helps you get as much out of meeting time as your fellow extroverts. Sometimes you won’t know the agenda ahead of time, and sometimes you won’t have anything to say. Make your goal then to observe and listen well so you can immediately take action on the next steps afterwards. Look at your work meetings as mini experiments to see what’s working, and be mindful of what your strengths and weaknesses are.

Consider yourself an extrovert? You may want to pocket these tips because everyone has at least a little bit of an introvert in them.

No one is completely one or the other personality type on the spectrum, and some people even fall right in the middle (called ambiverts). You may be the rock star around your team’s cubicles but still have trouble speaking up in meetings.

Whether you would rather do your taxes than sit in a meeting or can’t wait to share your big ideas, everyone has room for improvement when it comes to collaboration. And that’s exactly why we’re dishing out office etiquette and teamwork tips — that crazy idea you dream up alone has no room to grow without it.

Keep up with our blog to master communication and connection and harness the power of collaboration.

Featured Image Source: Death to the Stock Photo

About Ashley S.

Ashley Speagle is a Florida-born, Georgia-raised communications specialist, couch movie critic, dream interpreter, acrophobic adventure seeker, outdoors enthusiast, and easy-going introvert.

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