When Sociability is Too Low

In the post When Sociability is Too High on the Scale, we talk about tapping the natural motivation of highly sociable people (“Likes” are their favorite KPI!) to help them avoid overdoing a wonderful thing – their winsome, engaging style.  In this discussion we focus on helping introverts to not “disappear.”

Those who are low on the Sociability scale are reserved and reflective – demonstrated in their:

  • Specific answers,
  • Clear points, and
  • Thoughtful analysis.

They can explain the significance of a number, the meaning behind a phrase, or the reason for using a certain formula. Their skills may not be the envy of many, but their natural abilities “count” in accounting, figure greatly in finance, and it’s hard to estimate their value in engineering.  Don’t mistake their hours in front of a monitor as unproductive activity.

reflectingTragically, someone notices the significance of their abilities and makes a serious mistake. They see a thoughtful technician who knows and cares about the product – and places them in sales.  Inevitably, the once thriving technician beats a retreat from the streets to the safety of a quiet coffee shop. Naturally! The technician hasn’t changed.

For all those introverts who are urged to “be more friendly”, interact with the clients, or actively build relationships, here are some recommendations for making it work:

In conversation with others – particularly, the highly sociable type:

  • Allow some time for introductions, stories, and small talk;
  • When pressed for time, ask for the “Coles notes”;
  • At least nod and demonstrate you hear what they’re saying (it’s the polite thing to do).

In business meetings:

  • Ask questions – it helps others make the same discoveries you made some time ago while listening; remember, highly Sociable types “think out loud”;
  • Count on it – since you’ve been quietly listening and thinking, you have the clearest idea of what’s been said so far; don’t dismiss your conclusions as insignificant;
  • Speak up – you’ve got good ideas that remain “secrets” if no one hears them.

In situations where you’re in put in charge:

  • Find out what the other person is thinking (don’t assume they’ve thought it through – like you do naturally);
  • Share with others what you’re thinking (they can’t read your mind);
  • Set up times to communicate – or as you know, it won’t happen.

When faced with a rush of ideas, on broad topics, and no pause to consider … introverts want to withdraw (there’s too much “noise” for clear thinking). But at those very moments we need them to step out of character and consciously engage.  Remember, it’s awkward for them.  So now and then we need to put all activity on “pause”.

If we don’t find ways to tap their thinking, we suffer the loss of clear thinking, careful analysis, and great ideas.

Dan Maxwell