Often in conversations or meetings, as introverts we need time to think. Sometimes our silence while thinking is misinterpreted that we don’t have anything to say. In her book, Introvert Power, Dr. Laurie Helgoe says in these situations we must “hold our ground”.
Dr. Helgoe says:
“While the introvert is reflecting on the question (thinking first), the extrovert takes this as an invitation to fill the void (talking first). As long as the introvert doesn’t interrupt, the extrovert continues to fill the interpersonal space with talk. But as long as the extrovert talks, the introvert can’t think and stays mute. Mute means the invitation is still open and continued talk assures that the introvert remains mute. By the time the extrovert pauses to ask, the introvert’s head is pounding and he or she just wants to get out so she can think. The extrovert just assumes the introvert had nothing to say, and moves on.” tweet
If you need more time to think about something, say so. I was having a challenging conversation with a couple of clients and I really did need a few moments to think. So, I let them know I was thinking. This challenging conversation ended up going well because I did take the time I needed to think so I could come up with a workable solution. And I think I took away some of the awkwardness of the silence by explaining that I needed the quiet to work out the details of their particular situation.
If you need extended time to think, let the person know that and inform them that you will get back to them. Let people know when you need some time to consider the options. I received a surprise phone call about an issue the other day and asked for a day to think about a decision I had to make. If I succumbed to the pressure into making a snap decision, I may have made the wrong one.
Don’t get pressured into not doing your best work or not letting your voice be heard. Ask for the time you need, and make it worth the wait.