Several years ago, I watched a keynote speech by Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking at the ASAE annual conference. I felt like I was at a revival because I found myself nodding at everything she said.
In a meeting, I have no problems contributing my thoughts on the direction we should take. Send me off and ask me to come back with 15 ideas for a solution do. Done. No problem. But put me in a group I don’t know well and ask me to brainstorm with them and the only thing that gets me talking is my competitive side of wanting to have the idea that is chosen. Take that away and I’d be hesitant to join in.
Because I’m an introvert and working with groups of people drains me. It’s likely as many as half of your members are also introverts. While I don’t want to make them sound like a special group to be catered to, anyone who can make me feel more secure at a networking event becomes my very best friend and I won’t forget their efforts. The same is likely to be true of your members.
What’s an Introvert?
An introvert draws energy from themselves and being around groups of people is a draining experience. They need quiet time to recharge. It’s believed the population is comprised of extroverts (people who draw energy from others) and introverts in nearly equal proportions. Although, if you add in ambiverts things are slightly skewed.
What Assistance Do Introverted Chamber Members Need?
First, introverts don’t need help. But they do need conditions to thrive just as much as extroverts need an audience.
Here are some things the chamber can do:
- Committees, groups, and boards: if you have introverted members don’t have brainstorming sessions in large groups unless they know each other well and are comfortable contributing ideas. If it’s a newly-formed group or one with several new members, have them go off in pairs or give them a homework assignment to come up with ideas and bring them back. At the next meeting have them share ideas. This means extroverts get their energizing brainstorming and introverts were able to think their ideas out on their own first.
- Host a lunch and learn about introverts and showcasing their strengths.
- Allow them to present if they’re inclined. Some people assume introverts hate to speak in public. This is not always the case. Often when they are passionate about their topic, they excel in front of a group.
- Help chamber members understand how much introverted employees dislike open office space. It’s draining for them.