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
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
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…”
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
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
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
Don’t eat or drink too much. To begin the conversation, you can compliment someone on
· Unannounced over-talkers
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
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
The thing that is super awkward about 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
· Awesome ideas coming 10 min late –
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
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