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12 Awkward situations introverts face at workplace & how to deal with them


      As an introvert, we have to face lot of awkward situations at workplace. 
      Below are the 12 challenges I faced and solution I figured out while exploring them

Working together in the team

An introvert can be a very good individual contributor who would like to work silently, doing all the calculations in his head. But working in the team can be a challenging for him. Working with different personalities, conflicting ideas, conflicting working style, peer pressure etc. can take a toll on an introvert.

Solution - Instead of sulking within the group it’s better to set the expectations up front.
You can come up with the suggestions after some reflection. Is it ok for the group leader?
Same goes for the feedback which means we might be stalling a progress but at the expense of meaningful insights

·     Networking

If work meeting is scary to us introverts then networking can be a nightmare to us. T’s kind of meeting some new folks, vendors, clients, stakeholders, with whom most of the time you’ll be gossiping, instead of discussing work solutions. What’s the point? It’s even more trivial for us. Networking, however, is super important for building relationships and strategically moving up in your field

Solution. Preparation is the key here. Learn something about the event, the speaker and what’s happening latest in the field. Prepare some small talk topics as well and use them efficiently as an icebreaker. Set a goal to attend a certain number of events per year and think of it as a game, where you’ll be practising new tips or information you learnt. Another tip you can use is that of passing the information – suppose you met person A in the event, who does so and so. Next, you meet person B, then depending on the conversation you can throw information on person A, “Interesting! I just met person A who also had a similar thought…”

Decision-making situation

Introverts generally are considered a person with good observation skills but lacking in decision-making skills. The conception could have formed due to our ability to think things inside. Instead of walking everyone through and make them part of the decision, our analysis comes as more of a prediction. Something on the lines – “Let’s do X because we haven’t seen growth in the past, so chances are Y will happen” And the worse part is that we take a lot of time even to say this sentence

Solution – Make yourself visible as a team player. Try to form the rapport with your neighbours by discussing the pointers. There’s no shame in changing your stance, post analysis, if you feel so. Therefore, it’s better to share your opinion and then if needed change it by the end of the meeting, instead of passing on the calculated statement in the end

·     Public speaking

Many a time, we have to address a large meeting. Irrespective of medium, it can be a daunting task for us (Although I fear a lot when on stage compared to virtual set-up). We have to convey a message within a time limit, our voice modulation should be good, insights should be communicated well, many pairs of eyes are looking at you and then have to tackle a lot of questions

Solution. Practice your presentation a lot. Manage it in small chunks. Always remember the beginning and an end. For the middle, prepare the key pointers and talk around them. Joining a Toastmasters group will help a lot. On presentation day, drink water and be calm. Do remember that your primary job is to give the insights. Being enticing, voice modulation, body language are important points but secondary ones. As long as you are doing an amazing primary job, people will give you some slack on secondary ones.

·     One-on-One meetings with senior leaders

Talking to my senior leadership can become pretty challenging for us introverts. While setting the meeting, we will think of the environment, the room should have necessary props and everything functional. But come meeting time, we’ll feel awkward. How can we make the best use of 30-min? How should I start my meeting? Should I ask about their trip or team party we had last minute or how our organization is doing? We’ll prepare notes but still be sceptical of some follow-up question. We must be knowing every aspect of the team but what if we got nervous?

Solution – Prepare answers to the questions you think they’ll ask. Focus on your voice and body posture. Be confident. It’s ok to say - “I’ll get back to you on this one” As far as the start of the meeting goes – Small talk is not our strength but it can be a good icebreaker. A couple of sentences can be helpful, even if you need to mug them up beforehand. And finally, for the god sake do smile, when laughing and giggles can be tough for us.

·    Taking credit for work

Introverts typically prefer self-deprecation to self-promotion. This is a wonderful character quality, but it makes it hard for employers to give credit where credit is due

Solution If showcasing your own good work feels pompous to you then try to make it periodic. A quarterly check-in with your manager to discuss your achievements and how to build on them. Instead of just focussing on wins, check for the constructive points as well. In that case, you won’t feel guilty of bragging your work. Think of it as promoting your work but in the light of the scope of improvement.

·     Office parties

While your boss might tell you that attendance at the office party is optional, it really isn't. The qualifying criteria of you being a team player is to show up at the party and engaged with the co-workers irrespective of how much you hate them

Solution – Think of it as a quarterly show your face time. Being present in the meetings will show your colleagues that you care for them. I know conversation can be hard for us but please don’t sit alone playing candy crush saga or pretending that you are on the call. It’s even worse than not turning up. Instead become part of the group, try to see a small but odd number of people, it’s easier to barge in three people group than two. Don’t eat or drink too much. To begin the conversation, you can compliment someone on how they are looking. Even telling a truth that I hate such huge gatherings worked for me once. Don’t spend too much time in a conversation just mumbling your head, it’s better to keep switching the groups. In the end, always remember that its once in a quarter torcher

·     Unannounced over-talkers

Introverts are endlessly polite, but politeness ends poorly if the office over-talker takes up residence at your office door. Over-talkers are a time suck, and they're also likely to exhaust you as you're trying to plough through work

Solution - Start with a non-verbal cue, maybe a hand up front to pause the conversation or raising a finger to highlight that you do have a point and then politely put across your point that you are already aware of these things or maybe these talks are interesting but you have a lot of work to cover. Believe me, you will feel more guilty of unfinished work than of cutting a conversation

·    Awesome ideas coming 10 min late – 

When we thought of a perfect question or idea or relevant feedback but to our chagrin, it’s a couple of slides later or maybe a couple of minutes late or couple of pointers off

Solution – In this case, we have to be situational. If the meeting is formal which requires critical auditing then it’s wise to go back a couple of slides with a polite apology. If it’s in a speech format then obviously you can’t rewind the speaker but always wait for Q&A session at the end

·     When to speak in group conversations

The thing that is super awkward about group conversations is that it’s hard to know when to talk. We, introverts keep patiently waiting for our turn to talk. Or worse looking at the mouth of the speaker and as soon as they pause then speak

Solution – Unfortunately, I am not able to find any trick to this one. During the conversation, I usually say “+1” (which is a cooler way to agree to someone) to a person whose thoughts resonate with me and then quickly barge in with “Also”. With which I quickly make my point

·     Colleagues pointing to our quietness

One thing which I hate more than being quiet in the group is being reminded that you are keeping quiet. It’s like making awkward condition embarrassing and then turning that into the shame. Dude! I know I am being quiet but pointing it out won’t help me.

Solution – I normally use one of the variants (in increasing order of lame reply) –
“For a change, I am on listening mode today”,
“I don’t think I have meant to add there so was quietly grasping the knowledge” and “Well! my boss is to be blamed for that, I am too tired these days thanks to hectic work schedule”

·     Ending conversations

Ending a conversation when things are going great is easy. You simply stop, thank them for a great conversation and ask for/offer them some form of contact info so you can do it again
But for tough conversation, you don’t want to be rude and interrupt someone to end the conversation. You also don’t know exactly what to say to make a polite exit.

Solution – You have to be courageous and have to say it - “Well, it was nice to meet you. I hope you enjoy the rest of your day.” Then you turn and walk away without looking back. I am still looking for some other ways

Well on this note, it was nice to meet you virtually. I hope you enjoy the rest of your day

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