Helping proposal introverts open up and play nice? Ask the Proposal Doctor

Dear Proposal Doctor,

Our solution architect is a brilliant person who is also a Serious Geek and unreconstructed introvert. This person does not want to interact with anyone and does not express himself well in writing. He will only talk to people who are as technical as he is, and that is a very small club. Everything else we do on the proposal – our teaming, our pricing, our staffing – has to be validated by this person. Not sure how we are going to get there from here with the RFP due out in less than 2 weeks. Is there a drug we can give this guy to make him open up a little and play nice with the rest of us?

In Search of Pharmaceuticals

Dear In Search,

Can’t comment on the pharmaceuticals since I myself can’t tolerate much more than aspirin. However, the introvert challenge is interesting.

Often these individuals have a lot to contribute; yet they are routinely passed over for promotions and interesting assignments because they are incapable of communicating how much value they add. In fact, many (like yours) are incapable of communicating much of anything.

If your architect really is that smart, it would be a shame to summarily swap him out for a less-talented person. Here is a suggestion that might work instead. You will have to act fast. Can you find one person to be the interlocutor for this guy? Someone who knows his language, but can also speak to the rest of the universe? That way you might be able to still draw on his talents and get the answers you need so that you can meet your deadlines.

It’s worth trying, but not for long. If this approach doesn’t show results quickly, or if you can’t find the right translator, you have no choice but to change roles – and to do it quickly. Your architect’s brilliance is useless if it never finds its way into the proposal.

For the future, there are counseling programs that can help extreme introverts (without pharmaceuticals), but for now, you have to save the proposal.

All the best,

Wendy Frieman, The Proposal Doctor