A couple of weeks ago we had an all-day staff meeting, where the folks in my department who usually work in other cities all came to our main office. Our boss is a super cool guy and wants the meetings to be beneficial and fun, so he had an action-packed agenda including an outside consultant who flew in for the occasion.
Like many of you, I hate long meetings and get bored very quickly, so that day I was quick to respond to questions, often adding remarks that I knew would make my boss and the others laugh. It helped me to have a little fun in the meeting and I also hoped it would go more quickly that way. We made it through the morning then lunch was brought in so we ate as a group. After lunch it was time for the consultant to give us quizzes about our preferences and talk to us. Unfortunately he was a guy who quickly memorized all of our names and wanted to prod us about our personalities and how each of us would work in a team with various others. He called on me many times, and I resented him for pushing me that way, but I knew the answers to his questions so I still thought all was well. Around 2 pm though, I suddenly realized that I was exhausted. I really felt it all over my face, as if I could hardly stand to have my eyes open or especially meet anyone else’s eyes. As the guy kept talking on and on, I got my Blackberry and sent a quick email to an introvert across the room. “Exhausted.” In a few minutes I looked at the Blackberry discreetly to see his reply, “I’m done.” Well said. I think most of us were done.
My boss is a well educated guy and has actually had us complete behavior surveys before, so he definitely knew each person’s tendencies, yet after the consultant was finally finished he called on a guy who is about as introverted as I am. “Jeff*, can you tell us a little about what you’ve been doing?”
Jeff looked like he was in a daze. “Um…I um…” The consultant or the out-of-towners may have thought he didn’t know what he’d been doing. The fact was that Jeff was exhausted. The six hours we’d all been sitting there and participating in the meeting had totally drained his battery. He finally managed a few simple sentences, but of course he didn’t come near doing justice to what he’d been working on. Fortunately although it probably didn’t occur to my boss at the time that Jeff was exhausted from being with others, he kindly said thanks and moved on. I was so glad that I knew why I was exhausted and could also have a reasonable estimate of what time I would be free. That is the beauty of knowing you are an introvert instead of wondering if something is wrong with you! There is no better feeling in the world than being an introvert after a meeting is over and you are blissfully alone.
We have another meeting coming up in a few weeks. This time I plan to participate as appropriate but not try to be the life of the party. I’m going to go in with my battery fully charged and not sap it by overdoing it! When the group goes off on a tangent, I’m even going to refresh my energy the one way I can do while sitting with others – escape into daydream. Of course any physical escapes during breaks and lunch will definitely be alone and beautifully silent.
I’ll let you know how it goes!
*Names have been changed to protect innocent introverts.
Photo credit: jpockele