Standing out in the Nigerian workplace is paramount. Therefore being too quiet in meetings, brainstorming sessions or contributions can be perceived as a sign of weakness or lack of competency. The bees start to buzz leading to a series of worry and paranoia for you. Your seat at the table starts to be shaken by individuals who feel you are not bringing enough to the table.
Now being introverted in this context doesn’t work much in your favour. Here are my top tips for introverts to standout and get their voices heard in the workplace, securing and owning that seat at the table.
Come in Strong
Introverts are thoughtful, which means they’re good strategists. Instead of leaving your contribution to chance, challenge yourself to put your ideas on the table in the first few minutes, and at a minimum, get your voice in the room.
Ask the right questions
Ask questions that actually contribute to the essence of the meeting and not just a means of getting your voice in the room. Introverts are naturally observant and can use this advantage to ask key questions that move the dialogue further. It helps clarify everyone’s thinking if, in the battle between competing ideas, you can propose a thought-provoking question.
As an introvert, the tendency to understand deeper, observe, reflect and listen more, helps to distil the ideas in the room. In a bid to be heard, meeting participants can talk over each other, contradict, or even be in total agreement without realizing it. Become the calm in the storm that helps identify great ideas you feel have been raised and push it forth to the room. Example, “Tunde and Agnes both mentioned in-house shipping. If we are able to have that as part of our arm, we are able to help the client transport safely and also make more money for the organisation. What do you think?”
Be the brave one
Be bold. Be the person who identifies the hard to talk issues, say what needs to be said in meetings. Identify the elephant in the room – directions or points participants are scared to address. If there’s an issue everyone is avoiding, see that as an opportunity. Bringing it up with your signature thoughtfulness can be the perfect way for you to be heard – and make a memorable impression.
Be a problem solver
Finally, one of the very best ways to command respect is to be a problem solver. Do your homework, and come prepared with solutions to vexing problems that the group is struggling with. And make these solutions evidence-based – grounded in research you’ve done or analysis you’ve conducted. People respect good ideas and smart solutions and this can be a great way to show assertiveness in a way that plays to your strengths as a smart, strategic thinker.
Remember, you always have something to say. Most times people who are loud don’t have any concrete ideas or solutions to problems. Don’t be intimidated by loud-mouthed people who like the sound of their voice. That’s why as an introvert you play a vital role in the organisation. Your reflection and assertiveness on topics contribute real, concrete, memorable and impactful ideas to the group.