Introverts Won’t Participate…Right?
During the Q&A of one of my talks at the IBM Connect conference an audience member asked
“How can we get the introverts to adopt collaboration tools because it seems they would be less prone to participate?”.
While I understand why this may seem a reasonable deduction to make, the reality is nothing could be further from the truth.
Introverts actually welcome, and participate more fully in, digital communication tools than their extroverted counterparts. There are numerous reasons for this (the comfort provided by having control over timing, environment, and the explicit message for example). If you’re still in doubt, a brief look at studies, or the innumerable articles and books written on why introverts are so drawn to social media, will give you plenty of fodder to back up this assertion.
One of the reasons I find social collaboration tools so exciting, and why designing adoption programs for them is so rewarding, is because I know I’m about to help an organization tap into a wealth of knowledge that has largely gone unused.
The Balance Of Personality
I’ve spent a fair number of years doing high-end executive facilitation and workshops. One of the things you learn very quickly is that you have to be able to identify the personality types in the room, and then know how to leverage each type to get the most out of the sessions.
The overbearing executive, the eager to be heard extrovert, the thoughtful introvert, etc. Each one has to be carefully managed so that you can draw out the more introverted or thoughtful people in the room.
Social collaboration tools allow this to happen at scale in a more organic way. The overbearing, constant voice of the person begging to be heard will soon be disregarded if they don’t learn to be more thoughtful with their contributions. The person with the well formed, but perhaps less frequent, input will come to have their opinions sought out.
Organizations soon discover that what they previously rewarded (the vocal “go get ‘em” personalities) was keeping an entire population of brainpower quiet.
The Age Of The Introvert
So it’s not just that collaboration tools reduce the friction of information flow and allow people to work together more effectively, it’s that they quite literally add a massive amount of brainpower to the organization without any additional overheard.
In some ways, this is the age of the introvert. And in my experience that’s a very good thing for organizations indeed.
Matt Ridings – @techguerilla
p.s. – Many people have misconceptions about what constitutes the traits of an introvert. They are not the shy wallflowers that you might think they are.