Q&A: Working with an introvert


I am an extrovert working with an introvert who barely contributes in meetings. When she does, she is very thoughtful and insightful. I am getting frustrated with her because I want her to feel confident enough to contribute, and I am frustrated with myself because I always start pushing the work forward without her contribution. What are some better strategies I can use in meetings that I am running (it's an issue outside of meetings too, but I'm thinking about this one area) that will slow me down and make space for her ideas?


First, it’s great that you recognize that you have different work styles. (Here is an article we wrote on what it feels like to be an introvert). Try having an honest conversation with her about these differences. Say something like, “I’ve noticed that our work styles are pretty different. I know that I am an intense extrovert, and I think it will be helpful for me to share my preferences with you, and hear yours as well.”

You can then ask her what her ideal workday and workflow look like. Specifically:

  • How do you like to set deadlines?
  • How do you like to prepare for meetings?
  • How do you like to share your ideas with others?
  • How can I help make you be successful?
  • How can we bring out the best in each other?

If she doesn’t know or admit that she’s an introvert, you can suggest that she read Susan Cain’s book Quiet. Your coworker may be feeling insecure about being an introvert, or feel like you want her to be more extroverted. You can tell her that the ideal team has both introverts and extroverts (research backs this up), so you’re happy to be working with her.

A few more ideas: Instead of asking her to contribute ideas in big meetings, could you ask her to meet with you one on one and share her thoughts then? Or, could you flip the dynamics, and instead of running the meetings and giving her assignments, could you ask her to run a meeting or come to you with an agenda? This might help her get into high gear. :)