Work experiences for a lot of introverts who to work with other people usually consists of questions like:
“You don’t talk?”
“Is something wrong?”
“Are you mute? Ha ha.”
I get it. Silence makes some people uncomfortable! It makes people think that you don’t like them (not true) or that you don’t want to talk to them (a little true). Small talk, although the process of that is comparable to a slow and calculated torture, is necessary. So, how does someone who prefers comfortable silence and keeping to themselves navigate the workspace without driving themselves crazy?
Personally, I’m still figuring it out. But I have three quick tips that I give a try every now and then when I’m trying to cultivate workplace relationships that can be important.
1. Have Pre-Planned Questions
I know how that sounds, but when you need to have conversations with people you don’t know or are not particularly comfortable around yet, pre-planned questions have worked for me. It sounds unnatural, but something like “What’s your favorite movie?” or a question about current events can create authentic conversation that you can work with.
2. Join a Group
A lot of times at work, there will be already formed groups of people who know each other. Introducing yourself to a group of people rather than a single person can reduce the pressure to initiate conversations. And, you get to meet a lot of people at once instead of doing the introduction process a dozen times.
3. Pray for an Out-Going Coworker
Not even joking when I say this. The amount of times I’ve been approached by someone who was super outgoing saved me so much pressure. They’re able to maintain conversation and all you have to do is keep up.
I think a lot of people underestimate what it takes for introverts to put themselves out there. In a lot of cases, it can require you to act like someone you’re not in order to maintain constant conversation and an open, energetic personality. But in the end, workplace relationships are necessary to have so it’s important to try. And you never know who you might meet once you step out of your comfort zone.
Photos courtesy of Giphy and MTV.