A quick quiz:
1) Are those who express their opinions the loudest and firmest always right?
2) Are those who talk the most in meetings always the most confident in the room?
3) Are those who observe without expressing their thoughts always not engaged?
If you answered No to all three questions, you are 100% correct.
It is important to remember that just because someone is not adding to what’s being said, it doesn’t mean they’re not thinking, processing, formulating ideas, considering possibilities. Quiet Leaders (QLs) do a lot more thinking and listening than talking. They also hold their own in meetings. Their contributions simply may not be as loud.
A frustration among many QLs is people who talk, talk, talk in meetings. A QL VP said she has a colleague who could “talk the bark off a tree.” The only way to interject is when he takes a breath. She will comment, then ask someone who hasn’t spoken for their thoughts to broaden the discussion. Effective QLs are comfortable expressing their opinion and hearing other perspectives. They know that learning what others think, what’s behind what they’re saying, is key to better understanding, for now and the future.
Another common frustration is being told to talk more. Many QLs don’t want to say something just to be talking. They want to focus on what’s needed and move on. But in many settings, they can be viewed as not having an opinion if they don’t contribute. Ask a QL: “What are your thoughts on this?” You’ll get an answer.
Leaders don’t have to be gregarious to be successful. But they do have to let others know what they’re thinking.
So, experiment. Take risks. Learn from your experiences. And keep in mind:
You have to be vulnerable to be courageous, and you have to be courageous to be vulnerable. – Brene’ Brown