This page contains the responses that introverts have given to the question, ‘What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in work and life about how to connect successfully with others as an introvert? ‘
“I think the most important thing I have learnt is not actually about when I spend time with people but more about trying to balance this with time away from people! Also trying to find people with similar hobbies so we are more likely to enjoy time together. Quieter things like walking, reading, art galleries rather than big, noisy social events.” (Genevieve, Occupational Therapist)
“For me, now that I am retired, it all has the benefit of hindsight. For a start, I think it is important to find a workplace where we feel we can fit in to an acceptable level. I have found that some workplaces are harsh, competitive places, but others can be more supportive to those of us who are quieter and more reserved. If it isn’t possible to change workplace, then I found it helped to make small adjustments. For example, I could sometimes choose to have my lunch at a quieter time, where I could chat to individual members of staff rather than be part of a larger, louder group. I guess I’m saying it’s about finding a context where our introvert natures can blossom, rather than going against the tide. Finally, I would say not to fake it! I think if we stay true to ourselves, we will attract and make connections with people that we want to be with and work with. There is a difference between being an introvert and being withdrawn, but sometimes trying too hard in a situation that doesn’t suit us makes me overtired and withdrawn. I have found that going with the crowd just for the sake of feeling part of it just leaves me feeling dissatisfied. In a nutshell, I am saying:
1. Find a work situation that is as supportive as possible of our introverted natures and that will make use of the strengths that go with that.
2. Be true to yourself and take care of yourself. It could be that you feel like a square peg in a round hole, but it doesn’t mean that fitting into a round hole is the way to go. Maybe we just need to find more square pegs to relate to and connect with as a way to support ourselves. (Anne, Retired)
“The most important thing I’ve learned is to be myself and be upfront and honest. Although I feel I am professional in the work place I have always thought myself less knowledgable than others and not so good at putting or stating how I feel, or the things I need, into words. In a competitive employee environment I found it extremely easy to take a step back and let others dominate with their suggestions and ideas.
Thinking long term I wander if this was also another reason for taking a step out of employment and opting for the self-employed route instead. I didn’t enjoy trying to make connections within a competitive environment, it felt false.
In my current ‘sole trader’ role I am honest and open with clients and try to be just ‘me’. I am what I am and if my face doesn’t fit then I am not the right person for that job. I need to be able to work closely with clients in designing so it is important that our relationship works and we have a communicative bond. Although work isn’t coming out of my ears I seem to have a good rapport with those I have worked with and get repeat business from them, which I am beginning to learn perhaps says it all.” (Sam, Interior Designer)
“So I think over time and getting older helps with overall confidence but I believe this is because I’m getting better at things generally, in both life and work. The more experience I gain and the better I get at my job the more confident I am when dealing with others. I can still find some situations quite awkward but only when I feel out of my depth and less prepared than anyone else. Being prepared, knowledgable and skilled in a particular subject or task gives me a huge amount of confidence that can get me through most interactions that I encounter. I also work better in small groups, say three or four, rather than speaking to a large crowd or a one on one situation which focuses all the attention on myself alone. Being genuine, friendly and eager to help goes a long way in the view of most people so any insecurities and awkwardness that may occur when connecting with others are usually dispelled.” (Marc, Creative Director)