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How To Encourage Shy Group Or Team Members To Participate (Leading A Team)

Question: As a meeting and group leader how can I encourage one extremely shy and sensitive team member to share her excellent ideas during our group meetings?

One of the responsibilities of effective leadership is to harness the diverse and different talents and personalities of people in your team (or followers). It's not uncommon for team members to range from the overly participative and dominant, to the shy, and quiet. It's good to remember that different people can contribute differently, and quiet or shy team members or followers need not participate actively to contribute.

So the goal is not necessarily to get shy people to jump in and become much more active, but to create a climate where they at least feel more comfortable being in the spotlight. Pressuring shy people to be what they are not is likely to turn them off, rather than turn them on, and is simply a poor leadership tactic.

You can always try to encourage non-participants to participate, but in a group setting make sure to be gentle. Open the door, but don't insist on pushing people through it.

Consider speaking with the shy person privately to ask if there is anything you can do to make him or her more comfortable in group settings, or to open the door for the person to contribute his or her ideas to you privately.

Also consider approaching privately to discuss why he/she is reluctant to share during meetings. Is it fear of rejection of her ideas, or is it fear of public speaking? Once you know where her fears lie, you can help him/her get over them provided that is something the person desires.


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