If calendar invites to an office party make you break out in a cold sweat, or being asked to give your thoughts to everyone in a meeting makes you want to curl up in a ball, you’re probably an introvert. I’m guessing, too, that you’ve been confused for someone who’s shy, passive aggressive, cold or uninterested. While this may be true for some situations, being introverted isn’t synonymous with any of those terms. Feeling drained after socializing, rejuvenating after alone time and preferring to listen more than speaking is more of an accurate picture. There’s nothing wrong with being introvert — celebrate who you are.
But here comes the but. Unfortunately, for introverts, a lot of managers, CEOs and coworkers are extroverts. The idea of not being around people or voicing their opinions doesn’t make sense. It’s not their fault, but a lot of office environments don’t cater to the introvert crowd. How do you network, socialize and attend company events when they’re the exact opposite of your idea of fun? Well, until the office becomes a more inviting place, here’s your guide to tackling things head on when you’re just not feelin’ it.
Talking to a bunch of strangers in one room who may or may not hold the future of your career in their hands sounds like a living nightmare. That’s because it is, at least for introverts. So how TF do you successfully network? There are a few steps you can take to make this easier. If big networking events sound undoable, start with one-on-one meetings. Invite a manager or someone who has a position you’d like to work up to for coffee. Turning down the volume of people gives you a chance to focus solely on one conversation, and there’s no unexpected, awkward exchanges. If you’re ready to join the masses in a giant job-hunting fest, focus on techniques to stay calm like deep breathing. Also, be sure to give yourself time to step outside for a few breaks to regroup. Another helpful idea is to bring a buddy along. Having someone you’re familiar with beside you as you network will help you feel more confident and less uncomfortable.
Happy hour after work will never sound better than going home and reading a book or watching your favorite series on Netflix. Sometimes, these social events after office hours are mandatory — or are highly encouraged. If you’re trying to escape the persona of the anti-social coworker, there are a few things you can do to enjoy yourself. If it’s at a bar or a restaurant, sit with people you know and are comfortable with. So, if the conversation begins to include others, you basically have an army of comrades by your side. This also gives you an opportunity to network within your company, which never hurts down the road. It’s also important to limit your time at these events. If it goes from five-to-nine, plan on staying for the first half and heading home after. This gives your company a chance to see your face and learn more about you, but also ensures you’re not hurting yourself by staying too long. It’s also OK to not attend. You might not want to skip out on every single event, but you’re not required to put stressful outings over yourself. In fact, that’s discouraged.
Meeting With Clients, Interviewees And Other Outside Humans
When you’re the one interviewing someone or meeting with an advertiser or PR agent, it can feel like a lot of pressure to get things right. Lucky for you, they’re the ones with the short end of the stick. These people are trying to impress you. You do want to give a good impression and representation of your company, but this is where your kick ass reflective and listening skills come in. Most introverts have the fabulous ability to take in a lot of information, then turn it into thoughtful questions and ideas. Focus your attention on what they’re saying, rather than focusing on how nervous you are about the situation. It also helps to remember that they’re humans just like you, and it’s likely that they’re more worried than you are about touching base.
Being sensitive is another glorious perk of being an introvert (just kidding, it can suck). It’s useful when you’re empathizing with others and it makes you very good at being mindful of others’ feelings. Sadly, it can take criticism, or even subtle remarks, and blow them out of proportion. It can make you question your worth and abilities, and even make you rethink your self-worth. Getting past this is never easy, but it’s definitely possible. Right after you receive criticism, write it down, then allow yourself to dwell for a small time period. When you let your mind go over what just happened, it prevents you from overthinking in the long run, and allows you to process those feelings. Once you’ve calmed down, take a peek at your note. Break down the criticism into digestible chunks. Doing this can help you analyze the truth in a situation and the things you might be taking too personally. Nine times out of 10, you’ll find that the feedback has nothing to do with you. It’s usually a request or a change on something you’ve created or worked on. While it may feel like your personality and skill set are being attacked, they’re not. If it’s that one time out of 10 where your boss is just taking things out on you, roll your eyes, take a deep breath and move on.
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