Invite an Outsider In

openhand“Get outside your comfort zone.” “Push the envelope.” “Be more.”

You have been in conversations or meetings where statements like these were made, reminding you to shake off any complacency. When you apply these commands to your interaction with people, your mindset (hopefully) shifts.

In her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, author Susan Cain reminds us that not every person is socially outgoing. She points out that introverts, while quiet and contemplative, have a lot to contribute. They just may need to be invited into the conversation.

Introverts can often feel like outsiders, especially in a room full of extraverts. Whether you are an introvert or an extravert, take a moment to observe the behavior of your co-workers and clients. Does that person need encouragement or a nudge to share their thoughts and opinions? It could be you who invites that outsider into the conversation. The result could be uncovering some brilliant ideas. It begins with some simple questions:

What are your thoughts about…?

I would like to hear your opinions about…?

Your comments are valuable to me. What information can you share about…?

Initiate a conversation with the other person. If you would like to hear more about a certain topic, simply say, “Tell me more about that” or “Could you explain that to me a little further?”

As you scan the room at an event or a meeting, look for the person who sits on the sidelines, against a wall rather than at the table. Extend an invitation to sit at the table. Open up the space for that person to share her/his voice. Sometimes you need to gently pull someone along with you.

If you are that introvert, challenge yourself to make small changes in your interactions with other people. Those small changes over time will give you the confidence to be more open with your ideas, thoughts and opinions. An example: If you have an idea that is worth sharing, write it on your To Do List to bring it up at the next meeting. Once you get into the habit, you will feel more comfortable with other people and yes, even the extraverts.