Are you the kind of person who loves being in the midst of a lively brainstorming session? Do you feed off the energy of other people, boisterously putting forth their ideas and generating spirited discussion and debate? For a lot of people, brainstorming sessions can be galvanizing. For others, though, they can be intimidating. Those who are more introverted by nature may not get the same satisfaction you get from participation in these idea-generating dialogues.
That can be a problem for your team. It might mean that the introverted people in your midst don’t feel engaged by the brainstorming process—which means, in turn, that you may not benefit from hearing their great ideas.
Brainstorming for Introverts
For leaders, I think this question is worth considering: How can you host brainstorming sessions that get all your team members—including the introverts—involved?
I can think of a few recommendations.
Create an environment in which people can come and go. Introverts may be more likely to participate if they know they can exit when they reach their limit.
Encourage introverted team members to come in at the end of the process. Once the extroverts have had their say, and figured out what they really think, that might be a good time to bring in introverts.
Include silent periods in your brainstorming sessions. At the end of the session, ask everyone to take three minutes in silence to write down notes or simply think about what they’ve heard—which can be invaluable for introverts.
Allow introverts to add their ideas after the fact. Leave some room on your white board or on your collaborative document for introverts to add their thoughts later on, in a quiet moment.
Provide facilitation. A brainstorming session may be free-flowing, but you should bring the whole team together afterward to provide a more formal, organized summary of the ideas presented and decisions made.
Basically: Provide a loose structure to where introverts can find their own way into the process, but also allow for enough organization that your brainstorming session wraps up neatly. Those are my tips for getting everyone sharing their ideas.
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