Have you ever noticed that sometimes people never contribute to a discussion at work? Or perhaps they contribute very little, particularly in a group setting. If this is a typical pattern that you’ve noted within your organization, your team may be having a communication problem.
Some people are less comfortable sharing in front of a group. However, if we never discover the opinions of the less outgoing members of our team, we’ll never be able to tap into their brilliance. Just because someone doesn’t share their opinion readily doesn’t mean they don’t have a lot of valuable insight to share.
If there are members of your team who are reluctant to engage in discussions and don’t contribute as much as other individuals, there are steps that you can take to help the quieter team members feel more comfortable to share their ideas.
Start by having a one-on-one conversation to try to get to the bottom of what it is that makes them feel uncomfortable sharing ideas in the group setting. If you go into that conversation with an open-minded attitude and are non-judgemental, you might receive some great insight from the person that could help you understand what needs to be put in place in order for the person to feel more comfortable sharing.
Now, you may find the person will tell you that they simply aren’t comfortable sharing immediately, or in group settings and prefer having time to reflect. You could always ask if there is another way in which they would feel more comfortable sharing their opinions, such as writing their thoughts down later on. What is essential is making sure that the person knows how much you value their opinion, and following the person’s lead as to how they feel most comfortable sharing feedback.
Recently, someone suggested to me that a great way to ensure that everyone is heard in meetings is to ask everyone to anonymously share their ideas on a piece of paper, which is collected and read by the leader rather than people sharing feedback verbally. This suggestion certainly won’t work in all situations, but for certain circumstances, it’s a great way to ensure that you get input from the less talkative members of the group.
Although taking time to hear from everyone on your team can be time consuming, not taking the time to make sure everyone has a voice will be detrimental to your team. When anyone on your team feels unheard, effective teamwork becomes impossible. Taking time now to foster communication patterns that leave everyone feeling comfortable to share their opinions will undoubtedly pay off in the long run.
If you’re interested in more information related to managing difficult conversations at work, you can check out my free eGuide.
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