Earlier today, I read this post on tips for mastering meetings as an introvert, and it made me think about how often we listen to whoever or whatever screams the loudest. I am fortunate to work and have worked with some uncommon people who know me well, who know that sometimes I don’t speak up because I’m digesting things or because everybody else has jumped in and I try not to interrupt or am trying to catch up and listen. They make a point to ask for my thoughts, clear a space for me amid the cacophony.
Tweets, posts, air time. Everyone is clamoring to make their voices heard.
Or are they?
Someone forwarded me a story from a teacher who said that, every week, s/he asked students to nominate a classmate who’d been an exceptional classroom citizen that week, as well as the students they would like to sit next to the following week. But what this teacher is really looking for is the kids whose names don’t get mentioned. As a colleague once said of his philosophy at summer camp: “I look for the quiet kids.”
I recently joined a discussion panel, and one of the things the facilitator reminds the group of is:
Consider who is not in the room. What might they say if they were here?
Or even if they are in the room, maybe they are not at the table. Or maybe they are not speaking up for this or that reason.
How can we clear a space for their voices to be heard? How often do we bother to look around the room, looking for the quiet ones?