I was at Agile 2017 at the beginning of August and wow, what an experience! 2500 people, around 16 talks and workshops happening at any time, and those are only the formal activities! As an extrovert I held out till the Thursday morning before I had no choice but to spend a few hours by myself in my room. How on earth do introverts survive the cacophony and sensory overload of a conference like this?
I happen to be reading Susan Cain’s book, Quiet, at the moment. She tells us that work life is heavily skewed in favour of extroverts. Yet in her and my own experience the great ideas and insights often come from the introverts. Introverts tend to be deep thinkers. They need to think to speak. Extroverts on the other hand need to speak to think. The two are in direct opposition.
How do we deal with this tension in our teams? Some ideas are to:
- ask everyone to think in silence for a minute or two before speaking, or
- ask people to write their ideas on stickies, or
- give everyone a turn to think out loud for say 2 minutes without interruption, without comment, inviting everyone else to listen with exquisite attention1.
And then start the discussion. A better thinking chance and better ideas for all!
What will you try at your next meeting?