How to learn from introverts and appreciate thinking time, rather than worrying about fluency

Today when working with a super introvert, I remember one of my Airbnb guests from the States, who was very, very strange, compared to anyone I’ve ever hosted. He spent the whole week in his room. He might have gone out twice a day to the bathroom, and once a day out for food.. Very unlike others.

I love my Airbnb guests. You can learn so much about human behaviours. I love learning about how every individual is so different.

On the last day, he finally came out, all packed, ready to go. ‘Would you like a coffee?’ He replied formally and quietly, ‘yeah, that’d be nice.’

We started chatting. It was soon obvious that he painstakingly takes utmost care to choose the right word, so much so that there would be awkward silences in the conversation, although he wasn’t uncomfortable with it, whereas I was a little uncomfortable that there should be silences for more than 5 seconds. A few times I caught myself cutting him off half way. As an extrovert, I was learning to give him more time, to be aware that the silences feel much longer to me that they to them.

I learnt to use the silence for my own thinking time. I thought of all my clients in the past who have grumbled at their lack of ‘fluency’, i.e. not speaking quickly. Then I saw this guy, who’s a native speaker, who was speaking so slowly with long pauses. He shows that pausing is not an implication of lack of fluency! It’s alright to pause, and make others wait if you have something important to say!

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