I went to the perfect meeting for introverts the other day.
Extroverted types might not get this, but there are things in a business meeting that can cause immediate anxiety among more introverted people. This meeting eliminated all of them.
It started with the seating. It was lecture style. We were all facing forward in lines. No cozy little tables where you’re forced to chat with the people sitting across from you. No having to find a seat at a table with people who obviously know each other and are fully engaged in conversation. No having to sit alone at a table, relieved at not having to make small talk but looking like the kid no one wants to sit with on the school bus.
When the meeting started, the first thing that facilitator said was that we didn’t have time to go around the room and introduce ourselves, so we should do it when we asked a question or had a comment.
In truth, I don’t have a problem with this part of the meeting. My introversion doesn’t include a fear of public speaking. But I know people whose hands get clammy at the thought of those introductions.
And since I normally don’t speak up at these types of meetings, not because I don’t want to or can’t but because I have to internalize a discussion for while before I can form an intelligent opinion, I never introduced myself at all.
About halfway through the meeting, the facilitator called for a short break. This is where I usually pull out my phone to check my email (smart phones were invented so introverts wouldn’t have to make small talk, right?), but by the time I had used the restroom, the break was over.
I didn’t have to pretend to have an urgent message to return in order avoid talking to the other participants or stand around looking lost.
I’m exaggerating, of course. I don’t lack basic social skills and I am certainly capable of sitting and making small talk. I’m even confident enough to introduce myself to a table full of strangers.
I just don’t enjoy doing those things.
So when I happen into a meeting that seems to be designed specifically for introverts like me, I appreciate it.