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I'm an introvert who recently joined a team of extroverts.

Our meetings usually are non-stop talking with no pauses and I find it very difficult to say anything. Sometimes one person will ask if there's anything else and someone else will reply with "no let's move on to..." and start discussing the next item before I've even had a chance to unmute myself.

It's becoming very stressful as I often have questions and suggestions that I can't get across.

My manager is the worst of the bunch. When I do finally manage to get into the conversation with a question, he will interrupt me and answer the question he thinks I'm asking (usually wrong) then move on without waiting for a reply.

I have only been with this team a few months but I'm already looking for another job. Is this a problem with my communication skills or should my team be more accommodating?

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    Working on your communication skills and vivibility within a team/compnay never hurts, sometimes I practise before meetings and trainings with my cat (pretending the cat is my audience) thou I perceive my comm-skills to be quite ok - so training this throughoot your carrer is never a bad idea. Your mgmr on the other hand should let you at least finish the sentence imo..
    – iLuvLogix
    Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 16:25
  • Try clearly and concisely summarizing the actual issues you didn't get a chance to raise on the call in email or slack or whatever your team uses for written communication. Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 16:44
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    @TymoteuszPaul Introverts do exists, but many people confuse the trait with shyness and an inability to communicate when these two aspects are, at best, only loosely correlated. (Introverts need more "me time" than extroverts, sometimes a lot more. In terms of communication, that translates into a preference to think before speaking. But that's it.)
    – Llewellyn
    Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 17:56
  • @Llewellyn I am aware that there is the psychological terms, with some reasonable definition for them (though not very clear cut or definitive, and certainly not as far reaching) this isn't what OP is referring to. So can either try to write a lecture or just cut it short, as being introvert by either standard doesn't change that it's not something set in stone, or preventing you from communicating in assertive fashion.
    – Aida Paul
    Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 18:00
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    Who's leading these meetings? Could you reach out to this person in private and suggest they leave more time for questions between topics? (I'm sure you're not the only person on the team who would appreciate this.)
    – Llewellyn
    Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 18:03

4 Answers 4

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I have only been with this team a few months but I'm already looking for another job. Is this a problem with my communication skills or should my team be more accommodating?

It's a bit of both.

You need to speak up and be more assertive. If someone attempts to answer but moves on before providing you with the info you need, don't be afraid to interrupt and say "hold on, that didn't answer my question".

Maybe keep your mic open. Don't be afraid of jumping in, it is a communication skill that you only learn by experience. I know it can be hard, but Keep trying. It will get easier with time and experience.

Your colleagues are partly to blame. Those running the meeting should be waiting and giving everyone the opportunity to jump in and share their thoughts. Probably not much you can do about that unless you're comfortable explaining to your manager that a pause before moving between sections would be helpful, but if you're moving job then it might not be worth it.

Also stop labelling yourself as an introvert. By doing that you just reinforce the belief that you can't speak up for yourself.

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    "Those running the meeting should be waiting and giving everyone the opportunity to jump in and share their thoughts. " This is what I also believe.
    – J. Doe.
    Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 16:50
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    If OP is planning to move on, this might actually be a perfect opportunity to practice being more assertive. (And if the job search takes longer than planned, you're tackling the problem.)
    – Llewellyn
    Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 18:01
  • Thanks for the reply. I find it difficult to interrupt as I find it rude. If someone says "Lets move on to x I was wondering..." then I would have to interrupt their question to say we haven't finished this topic yet. It's especially hard when the person is my manager. My previous managers usually ensured everyone was happy before moving on, maybe I'm just not used to dealing with this situation. Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 19:02
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    @WorkplaceIntrovert “I find it difficult to interrupt as I find it rude” — To some extent, what's seen as rude can depend upon the group of people and what they see as normal. So while jumping in might be rude in other situations, it sounds like it might not be interpreted that way in this one, especially if that's the only way you can join in.
    – gidds
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 22:29
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    The last paragraph seems unhelpful. Introversion isn't an affliction that people should be ashamed of or trying to train themselves out of. Its a fixed facet of their personality. This doesn't mean its an excuse for being ignored or spoken over - the earlier parts of your answer contain some good suggestions for how the OP could train themselves to deal with impatient/impolite extroverts.
    – simonc
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 16:31
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I'm not a huge fan of Deborah Tannen's work, but her book on communications styles, That's Not What I Meant!, has a section that might be relevant here.

How long one waits before replying varies from micro culture to micro culture. It can even go negative in some places; New Yorkers are notorious for considering interruption a normal part of conversation. It you're with a group that has short or no pauses, you really do need to learn to jump in immediately if you want to be heard without assistance. It isn't rude in that context.

This problem gets worse on teleconferences, where there are fewer visual cues and where the system introduces delays.

Whoever's leading the discussion should do a periodic "is there anyone who has been waiting to say something" check. You could tell them you're having this problem and ask them to do so. Nothing to be embarrassed about.

If nobody's in charge you can ask one of the faster responders to help make a hole for you, by pinging them in the chat or by arranging for them to watch for a visual signal such as a raised hand. ("Hey, folks, I think Flexi's been trying to break in here...")

I am a New Yorker, but I've had to learn both of these anew when in "chaos" song circles, and I've had to learn how to moderate with this in mind. We've developed some conventions to help with that, and gotten in the habit of people volunteering to help moderate the theoretically unmoderated session.

These are learned skills like any other; practice makes better. Making people aware that they're drowning you out, and soliciting help to be heard, are entirely legitimate points to raise with the group and it's leader(s). And speaking as a Noo Yawka: "Don't just sit there; interrupt me!"

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  • Yes, I end up talking over someone I've known for a decade. I struggle to change my tendency as it interacts with her very different tendency. Commented Dec 22, 2023 at 14:44
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It may seem like everyone else is "getting it" but listen in carefully. Chances are their questions/answers/thoughts are just as ignored as yours are. The real question is if they're okay with that or if they are dissatisfied with the meeting but just come in just to be there?

With that in mind, I would also pay attention to what happens post meeting. Is everyone doing stuff they said they would do in the meeting? Or are they seeking out other ways to do things?

The problem with these sort of unstructured meetings is that nobody really gets to say anything at all. To the manager's viewpoint, he/she may feel as if they are getting value because everyone is talking and asking but in the end nobody walks away with any more knowledge than they started with.

With that in mind, you can approach your boss post meeting and explain that you do not get anything from the meeting because your questions are left unanswered. Also you can ask what sort of expectation do they have in the meeting? Is everyone just blurting out random thoughts and nobody really seem to be saying anything?

Also you have to look at the situation carefully. Only you can really figure it out since you're actually there, but you're going to have to figure out if everyone is in the same boat as you (most likely) or if there is a real issue going on where you're the only one who "doesn't get it." If it is the latter, then definitely look for a new job with a good fit. If it is the former, then I guess you should look if it is something you want to put up with. You can also get into it by just blurting out random thoughts just as your peers are.

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  • Thanks for the reply. It's a small team of 5 (including me). The other 4 people have no problem interrupting each other which often results in 2, 3 or even all 4 of them talking at the same time. The meetings usually run over, sometimes by double their scheduled time and we usually don't cover whats on the agenda. I would be surprised if my manager felt the meetings were productive but he's the main culprit and the person I'd expect to rein everybody else in. Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 19:05
  • @WorkplaceIntrovert It's not so much about them talking. Just because they're talking doesn't mean their own questions are left unanswered or even the person they're talking to understands the point. My guess is, from experience, that they're all just talking but nothing new is gained.
    – Dan
    Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 19:07
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There is an art to speaking up and making yourself heard in meetings, which is hard to teach in a Stack answer, but there may be a technical solution -- you've mentioned needing to unmute yourself, so it appears that you are using some sort of teleconferencing system. You may have the ability to raise your questions in a text-based chat adjunct, or to "raise your hand" (figuratively or literally) to show that you are waiting your turn to speak.

This problem often arises for women in male-dominated industries; you may benefit from reading some of the collected advice given to women trying to stop being "talked over" in meetings, no matter what your gender.

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  • "Raise your hand" was exactly the advise I would give this person.
    – Dominique
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 12:39

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