I’m an introvert. I prefer to work by myself rather than with others. In fact, I do excellent work when I work alone to do a task. As much as possible, I avoid interactions with my fellow workers in our section. This has been an issue with my supervisor who, in exasperation, now directs me to meet with two co-employees and come to a consensus before I submit any report to her. They, in turn, also meet with me before they turn in their respective reports. The problem is most of the time, my two peers don’t add anything of value to what I already know. In fact, what irritates me is their lack of listening and their constant use of their cellphones when we have our so-called meetings.
So I want to get your advice on how I can convince my supervisor that there is no need for meetings because my reports do not reflect any more value as a result of such meetings.
Mr. Better Off Working Alone
If you continue with the mindset and attitude you now have, I agree with you that your “meeting” will have no added value to your reports. In fact, it is not a meeting at all with the three of you not having a free flow and exchange of ideas and coming to a substantial agreement on the content of your discussion. You have convinced yourself that you are better off working by yourself and that your peers do not contribute anything of value to your reports. Thus, you have shut them off although you go through the process of having a “meeting” in compliance with your boss’ directives. You are not aware of the fact that this attitude of yours can be seen in your facial expression, gestures and posture when you interact with your two co-employees during such meetings. They react by not showing attentive behaviors which in turn, reinforce your mindset of the uselessness of meetings and exasperates you even more.
You should not ever attempt to change your supervisor’s suggestion and to leave you alone. Teamwork is obviously a corporate value in your organization as it is in others. You don’t justify your personal preference by reasoning out that you are an introvert. The truth is that you can change your nature i.e., being an introvert, by changing your behaviors and attitudes, and being motivated to do this.
An effective meeting facilitates the process of discussing issues that require brainstorming of ideas, disseminating new information and getting reactions to them, and gathering information. As leader of a meeting, you facilitate the traffic or flow of ideas. A good meeting results in better quality of outputs. When people work together in teams to achieve common objectives, they achieve far better results than one individual, no matter how brilliant, can do working alone. This phenomenon is referred to as synergy. Once you’re convinced of the benefits of a good meeting as a means of having synergy, you can now change your behaviors. Socialize by talking and going for lunch with one co-employee at a time. Have positive thoughts about your interaction. Instead of thinking “I got nothing from my interaction”, think rather “I learned something from talking with _____”. Repeat the positive thoughts and the social interactions until habits are formed.
To change your mindset and attitudes towards meetings and your behaviors during meetings, try the following:
1. Recall what your supervisor quite possibly had told you about the value of meetings: the free exchange of ideas stimulate more ideas such that each of you is able to see things that you did not see before. You build on each other’s ideas. This is how synergy is created.
2. I suppose you are not the leader of the team. If it is your turn to call your other two co-employees for a meeting, make sure you are prepared with (a) an objective for the meeting; (b) an agenda, which is the framework of your meeting; and (c) a time frame. The time frame conditions your two co-employees to make use of discussion time well.
3. At the start of the meeting, take the lead by expressing the norms you will abide by: (a) that you will listen when the others speak and that when it is your turn to speak, you hope the others will listen as well; (b) you will put your cell phone on silent mode and keep it away to prevent you from getting distracted. Then state the objective of your meeting, the agenda and the timeframe.
4. Be a role model of attentive listening. When a co-employee speaks, listen with interest. Paraphrase what he/she has said.
5. At the end of the meeting, wrap up or summarize the ideas presented and conclusions reached. Tell them that you will use their inputs in completing and enhancing your report. Thank them and show happiness in your voice and on your face.
We are not slaves of our nature. We can change our nature by changing our thoughts, our feelings and our behaviors. Change the negative into positive thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Reward yourself with a “pat on your back” plus a feeling of achievement when you are able to do this.
God bless you.
Josie O. Santamaria