I’m from New York, where it’s all about volume. Loud communication was something we learned before we could even walk. Naturally, I brought this into the workplace, and like many I assumed that those who were loudly tooting their own horn were the most productive. It wasn’t until years later, after spending a summer afternoon clamming on Cape Cod, that I realized that sometimes the most productive people aren’t necessarily the loudest.
Here’s what occurred on my day of reckoning. I was out with friends having what I call clamming wars, and was deep in the muck on the shores of Cape Cod. My husband and I teamed up against two of our neighbors to see who could dig up the most clams.
I have to admit, my team was quite vocal everytime we scored a clam, which by my count was many. The other team raked for clams quietly in the distance. You can imagine our surprise when the quiet team hauled in considerably more clams than our team. Who would have thought?
Sometimes we forget that the most productive people in an organization aren’t the ones who make the most noise. In fact, it’s often the quiet ones who out-produce everyone else.
Being quiet strengthens focus. It's hard to focus on the task at hand when you are making so much noise. The other team who participated in the clamming wars never took their eye off the prize. Our team, on the other hand, did a happy dance in the sand every time we hit pay dirt. In retrospect, this was probably valuable time wasted.
Being quiet calms others. Quiet people have the ability to calm those around them. For example, when everyone is stressing out because it looks like a team isn’t going to meet their deadlines, it’s usually the quiet people who are able to calm people down and carry them over the finish line.
Being quiet conveys confidence. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone when you are confident. You know you do a good job, and you believe that eventually others will take notice.
Being quiet means you think before you speak. Quiet people are usually thoughtful thinkers. They think things through before making a statement -something you probably wish many of your workers would do before taking up your valuable time.
Being quiet gives you the space to dig deep. Quiet people tend to delve into issues and ideas before moving on to new ones. Compare this to the surface people in your organization, who often move onto other matters without giving thought to the gold that may be sitting right below the surface.
The next time you evaluate team performance, be sure to give credit where credit is due. Remember that at the end of the day, it’s not about the noise one makes, but what one actually gets done.