the introvert’s guide to better relationships with coworkers

If you, like many introverts, prefer to keep your head down and focus on work and/or find socializing with colleagues to be weirdly draining, it can be frustrating to realize just how important work relationships really are to your success.

But there are some relatively painless things that introverts can do to strengthen relationships with colleagues without triggering too much introvert agony.

1. Say yes to events sometimes, but bow out early if you need to.I f your office holds regular social events like happy hours or group lunches, don’t feel like you have to go every time – but it’s a good idea to go occasionally. Even just showing up for an hour, being seen, and talking to a few people can solidify relationships in a helpful way. (Then you can go home and enjoy some solitude!)

2. Take the lead on suggesting activities that you’ll enjoy. If you’re not so excited about socializing at all, it might sound counterintuitive to propose a group activity, but if you take the lead, you can suggest something that you’ll be happier with than, say, an extrovert paradise like happy hours. Plus, being the person to suggest and possibly even plan it will earn you big points.

3. Volunteer to work on a team project. If you’re like most introverts, you’re happiest in groups when you have a specific task to do. In fact, the classic advice for introverts at parties to put yourself to work, like by pouring the drinks or DJ’ing the music. You can do the work version of that by giving yourself a task within a team. You’ll get to focus on something work-related, while getting the benefits of building relationships and increasing your visibility.

4. Ask for people’s input on work topics. Most people love to be asked for their opinion and will take being asked as a sign of respect, so that all on its own can be a relationship builder. Better still, you’ll be talking about substantive work topics, not small talk, which should make this an easier way to build the relationship than having to stare at someone across the table at a work dinner.

5. Make a point of being kind. Obviously, everyone should be kind to their coworkers, but you might put particular thought into doing it if you’re an introvert looking for ways to strengthen your connections with colleagues. For example, write people thank-you notes when they go out of their way to help you (cc their manager for extra points!); send cards if someone gets married, has a baby, or has a loss in their family; and compliment people on their work achievements. Your coworkers are far less likely to care that you’re not the life of the party if they associate you with warm gestures.

Similarly, be a good coworker in general. Be responsive, help out when asked, do good work, and give people the benefit of the doubt. It might take people longer to get to know introverts, but it’ll help if they see you doing great work and being easy to get along with meanwhile.

I originally published this at Intuit QuickBase’s blog.

 

{ 83 comments… read them below }

  1. DrPepper Addict*

    INFP here. This was written for me.

    Co-workers sometimes think I’m grumpy because I don’t want to talk about what I did in the 3 hours we were apart in the evening. One day I will have a job where I go into my office, look at a computer all day and have to talk to no one! Ha!

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      Mine think I’m grumpy when I shush them for talking loudly next to my office about their evening! And that sounds like my ideal too, dare to dream!

    2. it will happen*

      Oh how I wish for that. In my position I am marked down every review for ‘not getting up and walking around to talk to people more’. Really. I see others doing that and it = not doing any work. So to bring myself to do that is horrendous. I have talked to my supervisor over and over about it – how it drains me, how chit chat is equal to running a marathon to me etc and it falls on deaf ears.

      I find it difficult to apply much from this article because if we are doing an actual social event after work I am FINE! It’s the socializing AT work that I cannot do.

  2. oh dear*

    I got the best piece of advice recently – at every meeting express at least one positive reaction to someone else. I’ve only been doing it for 2 weeks – my usual line is ‘oh how interesting’ so I don’t think it comes across as fake or overly effusive – and already I’m getting along way better with all sorts of people who used to think I was a sour puss. (I am sort of sour puss for the record.)

    1. KR*

      I love this advice. I do something similar where if I’m at a meeting or an event where I feel overwhelmed but I know I have to participate, I try to either say something to each person or smile at something they say to show I’m listening to them, even if the other 99% of the time I’m silent and don’t do anything but observe. I’m so introverted, have stupid amounts of social anxiety and resting bitch face so I feel like whenever people meet me they assume I’m just a stone cold bitch. It’s so hard to convey that I’m just not a people person.

    2. Artemesia*

      Great advice. It is amazing what something this simple can do. And a little note or email when someone accomplishes something notable will cement you in their ‘wonderful person column’ as well.

      Every person you respond to with a subtle ‘That’s really interesting.’ Or ‘I think Osgood makes a good point here — adding your own two cents.’ will go away with positive vibes about you.

    3. Cath in Canada*

      A friend of mine has completely changed how I hear this phrase now! He once met the Queen when she was touring the research facility where he was a grad student, and explained his project to her. She said “oh, how interesting!”. He was extreeeeeeemely flattered – until he read an article a couple of years later by one of the royal family’s former aides, who said that “oh, how interesting!” actually means “I really don’t care and am moving on to someone else now”.

    4. Jillociraptor*

      This is smart! You need five positive interactions for every one negative interaction to feel good about someone else or a certain circumstance. So, if you manage someone, you should be striving for five positive moments for every critical moment. Doesn’t even need to be huge things, just stuff like genuinely thanking them for how their contributions aided the team, telling them that you appreciate something about how they work, etc. That’s key to engagement and satisfaction.

      I’m also an introvert, but a really people-oriented one (INFJs are often called “extraverted introverts”), so this comes a bit easier to me. Still, I need my down time and I sometimes wish I were a little better at cultivating that “sour puss” air so that folks didn’t assume that just because I’m personable and outwardly friendly that I want to chat ALL THE TIME FOREVER.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Oh, that’s interesting — I’m an INFJ and have often thought of myself as an extroverted introvert but didn’t know there was a connection.

        1. Susan*

          Me too. And, as a side note, interesting how many infjs are on this blog. Might be some correlation there.

        2. Vicki*

          It’s because the NF is the “Connector” temperament. Relationships and connections are The Big Thing for NFs. They really do like people.

      2. Anxa*

        I’m a pretty solid INFP. I mean, I’m only 30, but for at least a decade I always get INFP.

        Yet, I think of myself as a ‘people person’.’ Only, I’m not so great at salesmanship, or general self-promotion. I also probably am on some sort of spectrum of social anxiety. Yet, I’m definitely a ‘people person.’

        I work right now in a very ‘helping’ job– I’m a tutor. I’m most definitely introverted, but I’m far more people oriented than data oriented (even though I have a major and some training in science fields).

        I’m different from you in that that I rarely want to ‘chat.’ I do, however, have to train myself against connecting too deeply with people. I’ve gotten a lot of ‘whoah’ comments from others when I’ve accidently read too much into what they’re telling me. I probably should have been a therapist in a different timeline or something. I think a lot of times introverts are interpreted as not being people people. But I think one reasons introverts may feel drained or tired from interpersonal interaction is that they are TOO people orientated at times. Or maybe that’s just me.

  3. Noah*

    I so much agree with #1. Go to events sometimes, even if it is just lunch or a drink after work. Also, I usually find myself avoiding certain social situations until I actually make myself go. Once I’m there I usually enjoy them.

    1. Daisy Steiner*

      Definitely. And, if you can, always go to the FIRST of any series of events. It really sets people’s expectations so that they’re more likely to ask you again if it’s an unofficial-type work event. If I’m asked for drinks (or something) and can’t (or don’t want to) go, I always say something like “Oh, I can’t. But ask me again next time!” to leave the door open.

    2. BadPlanning*

      Me too. Often I make a deal with myself that I only have to go for 30 minutes or 60 minutes and then I’m free to go. Sometimes I leave at my self negotiated time, but more often I’m enjoying myself and stay a lot longer.

    3. T3k*

      This also works well with family events. Yes, I’m so introverted, if I spend more than 3 hours visiting family I start to feel tired out and I still have to drive an hour (usually) back home.

        1. T3k*

          I guess it depends on the activity. Usually family gatherings for me involve playing Risk or Cards Against Humanity, something I can’t really do with coworkers. Now, if all we’re doing instead is standing around and mingling I leave after an hour.

      1. Temperance*

        I’d much rather hang out at work and networking events than visit family. I can hang out at work-related events for hours, but my family stress level hits max capacity after about an hour.

    4. Stranger than fiction*

      Same. I really have to kick my own ass sometimes, but once there it’s not so bad, usually because I’ve had a bit of “liquid courage” though. Then I need a few days to relax after, which is hard because certain conversations from the night will play over and over again in my head and I will over analyze things to death.

    5. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Yes, I do this! My department used to have lots of happy hours (not as much any more). I’m introverted and also not a big drinker, so I hated going but I would make myself go to at least every other one. I’d usually “have dinner plans” (ie eating leftovers on the couch with my husband) so would only stay long enough for one drink. But I think just showing up usually made a good impression.

  4. The Optimizer*

    I’m an introvert with strong leadership qualities and this really helps. I have worked on connecting with other employees, especially since we all work from home, but need to work on that with some of our clients. I’m pretty good with those I have met in person or worked extensively with on some projects but I think I can be too businesslike with others.

  5. Shell*

    Major introvert here. I barely leave my house unless it’s for work, groceries, and other life necessities. I text my (rather few) friends a lot, but I don’t meet them much. After I’m done work I’m all social-ed out :P

    I’m still seen as pretty social at work because my coworkers are generally a friendly, wisecracking bunch; this suits me as I am also a wiseass, so my social input is often making/receiving smart-aleck remarks. It’s surprising how a few sentences of gentle ribbing improves camaraderie. I’m not even talking water cooler “so what did you do this weekend?/oh, I made bad life decisions by staying up too late reading” though there’s that too; but if a guy just got off a difficult phone call with a customer, a sympathetic/sarcastic “what, did you miss the memo? You’re supposed to make magic happen, all day every day!” goes a long way.

    We don’t have much after-work happy hour type things; I suspect if I was in a workplace that heavily emphasized after-work culture I wouldn’t do so well. But in my experience, a couple of off-the-cuff remarks can help a lot to warm the relationships during business hours, and doesn’t take much commitment or effort.

    1. KR*

      Same strategy here! If you can’t stand to go through the small talk, just tease your way out of it. And then at least people know you have a sense of humor, even if you don’t say much else.

    2. Mimmy*

      Your work sounds a lot like the office where I used to volunteer at. They are always ribbing on each other and even pulling light pranks. Yet, they still know when it’s time to focus on the work, and they do get a lot done.

      Also, just like you, I don’t leave the house much unless necessary.

      1. Shell*

        Yeah, we have the rare light prank. My sales manager once went up to the mezzanine (a portion of which hovered over and behind my cubicle) and dropped a balloon on me, then ducked out of sight. So I just saw a random balloon flutter down out of the corner of my eye and spent about 30 seconds looking around with a WTF face. He laughed so hard at me.

        That balloon then got eyes drawn on it and made its way around the cubicles and offices, staring at people from behind monitors and so forth. That’s the kind of prank I can get behind.

    3. Corgirl*

      Your comment describes me and my situation perfectly. It doesn’t help that I am at least 10+ years older than most everyone in the office and they seem obsessed with Snap Chat, Twitter & Instagram and spend the better part of the day taking and chit-chatting over their photos while the “introvert” thinks it’s more productive to get work accomplished. Might I add, the office manager, one step below the owner of the company, is one of those participating in the time wasting, so there is no one to confide in. All I can do is be sociable while working and bite my tongue, praying not to spew out the words in my mind. It just seems a complete sense if immaturity and “milking the clock” and those doing just that are bonding with the boss, probably ensuring job security. I don’t mind socializing but that is after the priorities have been met. I’ve yet to find a place where I belong….

  6. BBBizAnalyst*

    I do these and they work. However, I work with someone who LOVES small talk and it’s so distracting. He will find ways to fill the silence with something self-deprecating or ask questions that he already knows the answers to. It drives me nuts.

    1. Corgirl*

      I can relate – once a certain co-worker arrives, there literally is no silence. Humming (to no particular tune), laughing out loud to whatever is going on over the headphones, constant murmuring over internet news (nothing to do with work in any way), and chomping loudly with mouth wide open on a seemingly unending bag of pretzels. Some days, I call in “sick” and work from home to avoid the annoyances of this and other time-wasting co-workers. Hoping something will get done about it but knowing all too well that the manager, who is also involved, is no one to confide in – nothing spoken in confidence is ever kept confident. Thank you for letting me vent…haha!

  7. Nina Renee*

    Go but leave early: great advice. It’s good when people know you who are but you’re not stuck socializing for hours.

  8. ArtsAdmin4Life*

    These are great. Thank you! As a self-identified introvert, I also find that asking coworkers to lunch once in awhile is really helpful for developing my work relationships. I usually ask only people at my level or those with whom I’ve developed a clear affinity on a personal level. I have a little ‘Task” on my calendar each week and a list of people to ask, which makes things really easy. Most people are delighted to be invited!

    1. NicoleK*

      Second this suggestion. At Old Job, I made a point to ask other colleagues to lunch. It did help to strengthen the bond.

    2. Rebecca in Dallas*

      That’s a great idea!

      I love Corner Bakery (not sure if it’s a national chain, but a soup-and-sandwich place, like Panera) and am on their email list. They send out coupons every once in a while (usually a free dessert), which I usually email to my team with a note that says, “Who wants to go on Friday?” I can usually get some takers that way, plus everyone loves a free dessert! Bonus they think I’m generous for sharing the coupon.

  9. De Minimis*

    What’s worked so far for me is being helpful, but I have some HR duties so that’s part of what I do. But it helps me get out there and meet people.

  10. Angelica*

    Sometimes I think there needs to be a clearer definition about what an introvert is. I’m an introvert but I enjoy talking with people and forming relationships. I don’t have social anxiety and I’m not shy. They’re not the same thing.

      1. Fifi Ocrburg*

        Thanks for this–many people seem to think “introvert” is a synonym for anti-social. My husband is extremely introverted as well as being charming and engaging.

    1. chocolate lover*

      There are lots of generalizations about introverts and extroverts. Some take introvert to mean they don’t like people at all or want to be alone 24/7, which is definitely not true of everyone. I’m a self-identified introvert, but have been called a “closet extravert” because I can come across as very social and outgoing at times. BUT it’s all about context, whether I like/feel comfortable with the people and the situation, and I can only do it for certain amounts of time before I need to recharge on my own.

      I had a bunch of absolutely wonderful colleagues in my last office, enjoyed spending time with them, and had no problem having lunch with them regularly, socializing, engaging on projects and helping with things etc. We also worked together a very long time, and many of them also recognized cues when I needed some space, like having lunch by myself after a very stressful staff meeting.

    2. oh dear*

      That’s great, but a lot of introverts are shy and they benefit enormously from this kind of advice.

          1. Angelica*

            Okay, but my point is that not all introverts are socially anxious shy people who hate all forms of human interaction. I see that definition of “introversion” a lot on this blog.

    3. LQ*

      I don’t think this is about being shy or not. I’m very (I hate this word but it is useful) gregarious when required. But every minute I spend around other human beings who aren’t a tiny select few is expensive. The less I know them the more expensive. Doesn’t mean I’m bad at it. But I get exhausted after spending an hour with other humans.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        There are times when just seeing other cars on the road when I’m driving home (usually from a shopping trip) and that’s too much contact for me…

        I was ridiculously proud of myself for going to an evening networking event *all by myself* a few weeks ago.

        1. KR*

          I’m really happy for you about that networking event. I have to go to a workshop next week after work and I’m already dreading it.

          1. Charlotte Collins*

            If there is a focused purpose to something, then I’m more OK with it. I’d be fine with a workshop, and I like taking continuing ed classes, but “networking” seems so… nebulous. Luckily, there was an ice breaker game with prizes, and I’m actually really good at games.

        2. LQ*

          Evening networking events are …I’m proud of you too!

          I’m dog sitting for a friend this week and you have to have so many interactions with other people with a dog in the city. I’m exhausted.

    4. anon attorney*

      Absolutely this. I am an introvert but nobody ever believes this, until I explain that I like people and socialising, but I have to recharge afterwards rather than finding it energising.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Same here, no one believes me until I remind them of when they first met me how quiet I was. I’m fine in small groups settings of people I know and am comfortable with. And at parties, once I have a drink I can seem like the life of the party, but I’m utterly exhausted afterward and don’t want to do it again for at least a year.

  11. AmyNYC*

    I didn’t realize how introverted I am until I started NewJob – an office with 600 people! (OldJob had 30) I haven’t gotten up the courage to go to the all office happy hour, but I’m making an effort to go to smaller group events.

  12. Rocky*

    I generally dislike talking about anything but work with my co-workers (I actually like talking to them about work stuff), but learned to do it early in my career. One thing that really helped was thinking of non-work things that I really enjoy, and that lots of other people also enjoy (movies, travel, food) and then asking people questions about them: “I heard that Indian restaurant in your neighborhood is good, have you been there?” or “Do you have any fun vacation plans this summer?” is much more likely to result in a conversation I want to be in. That sounds like common sense now I type it out, but was something I actually had to think through and practice.

    1. Cath in Canada*

      I used to work with someone very introverted and shy who always came to an after-work social event with a prepared question. His questions were always something really interesting like “would you rather live one life that lasts a thousand years, or ten lives that each last a hundred years?’. He’d ask his question of the week and then sit back while we all debated it. Even though he barely contributed more than the first sentence, he gained a reputation as someone who started incredibly interesting conversations. Even our regular waitress at the local bar would come running over when she saw him sitting with us, so she could hear the question too! I always thought that was a great tactic for someone who’s naturally very quiet, but wants to form a social reputation.

      1. BeenThere*

        This is an awesome suggestion, as an introvert and a people watcher this appeals to me so much.

  13. Who watches the Watcher's?*

    Just out of curiosity, but are the norms for ‘office camaraderie’ like this similar in different countries/cultures?

    Reading the article just made me think of that coconut vs peach article about usa vs other countries. I feel like here in the us there’s this perception that everybody has got to be all friendly, warm, and fuzzy and get along with everybody all of the time (of course I agree we should get along at work) otherwise you’re a sourpuss grouchy grouch.

    1. Former Retail Manager*

      I can’t speak to other countries, but yes I concur with your assessment of the U.S. Totally like that.

  14. Temperance*

    I’m an INTJ. I use it to my advantage in networking/social situations – I’ve done a lot of personal “work” to learn how to naturally converse with people by observing and taking logical notes of how really social adept people act. I really enjoy it now.

    I think there is a glaring misconception that many people have that introverted = quiet, antisocial, or shy. I’m none of those things (and so glad Alison pointed out the actual definition of introvert!). I regularly attend events and join clubs where I don’t know anyone. I just need alone time to recharge. My MIL is my polar opposite; she hates social events where she doesn’t know other people, but she’s an extreme extrovert who just loves talking and being around family and friends. She hates being alone.

    1. Rocky*

      I’ve joked with people that I’m INTJ but can pass as a human. Public speaking doesn’t faze me one bit, and neither does going to a big gathering where I don’t know many people. But I kind of dread intimate gatherings. I’d so much rather attend a huge party where I hardly know anyone than a small dinner party where I hardly know anyone, I can’t even tell you. Your MIL sounds like my mom, by the way.

      1. LQ*

        I’ve been known to say that I would rather get a pap smear and a root canal at the same time than go to a cocktail party. (Though I’m also pretty bad with large gatherings, I do fine when there is enough structure that I know what to do, but the “oh just mingle and have fun” does not compute.) Public speaking is fine, I talk and then I go do something alone.

  15. Squeegee Beckenheim*

    This list actually makes me feel good about how I’ve been balancing my introvert tendencies with the need to build relationships at work. I have a workplace where a lot of people are very social and I am very not, but I do make myself go to happy hours when we have them (which isn’t too frequently, thankfully). Most of the time I even enjoy myself.

    I’ve also become a lot more comfortable with asking people questions about work even when they’re not 100% necessary. Even if they don’t have a magic bullet solution to my problem, it’s often helpful to talk it over or even just commiserate about how terrible a given bug in a program we all use is. Earlier at this job I used to worry that I was bothering them, but now I actually feel good about talking to them. And occasionally people ask me for my opinion and I feel fantastic.

  16. the gold digger*

    A co-worker, whom I had never met before, was going to meet me in the lobby of the hotel where I was staying. I got there about 15 minutes before we were supposed to meet. At one minute before our meeting time, he called me. From the next table. Where he had been the whole time.

    “I thought that was probably you,” he said, “but I wanted to read the paper.”

    I said, “So did I! I would have been perfectly happy to say hello and then return to the news!”

    So when he showed up later that day to take me to dinner – and showed up five minutes early, I told him he had to wait – that I wanted to finish the chapter I was reading.

  17. louise*

    This afternoon, this introvert willingly participated not just in a group activity, but a spontaneous one, at that! A co-worker’s spouse unexpectedly brought cupcakes to celebrate a birthday…I didn’t want to seem, you know, unsportsmanlike…sometimes you just have to suck it up and be a team player…

  18. ScarletInTheLibrary*

    Here’s a question related this to discussion, how can introverts get through to an extroverted boss that mandantory fun with forced small talk is not a welcomed break from work but really torture? Not surprisingly, a lot of people who work in the library profession are introverts. My boss is an extrovert who likes to hear herself talk and is rather ingenious in her conversations. It’s awkward and somedays I have difficult tolerating it. She doesn’t believe someone when they state they do not want a birthday party, retirement party, baby shower etc. because she enjoys them. The rest of us just try to get out of them (or repeat that they don’t want anything).

  19. scarydogmother*

    Coming from the other side of this (as a half introvert, half extrovert), it can be hard to tell whether some people are shy, intimidated, introverted or disinterested. What’s the best way to balance being open, friendly and inclusive with not being overbearing or annoying?

    I’m friendly with a bunch of my coworkers in the sense that sometimes I eat lunch and/or go for walks with one or more of them, do happy hour or a get a bite to eat after work, have hung out a few times on the weekend and we just generally support and encourage each other and have good relationships. Many of my coworkers (myself included) are transplants who moved to the area for the job, often alone, after grad school or fairly early in their careers. When new people start (especially other women since we’re in the minority at my workplace), I try to be very welcoming, extend invites and help them feel included. Some people are really hard to read so I find myself getting anxious about their comfort level, sense of belonging, etc. Ugh god, reading this back to myself is making me cringe. I know other adults’ comfort is not my responsibility and I should probably live and let live and get my anxiety under control. Relationships are a two-way street so if one person(s) is always the initiator, that may be a sign that it’s time to back off?

    Can anyone relate?

    1. ScarletInTheLibrary*

      I feel you. At several positions I have held in my profession in my career, most naturally feel cold to newbies. Mostly because there are a lot of introverts in my field, and many positions I have found myself in have high turnovers so many do not want to get attached. For this reason, I try to go out of my way to welcome newbies. In many situations, I offer myself as a lunch buddy. Some have been very responsive, some have kinda blown me off (in one case, she was new to the workplace but eventually realized that it’s good to have someone who gets the craziness), and others are very disinterested. The best I can do is offer an open invitation and let the chips land wherever.

  20. Data Lady*

    This isn’t necessarily introvert-specific, but probably happens to introverts more often: how do connect with your colleagues when you can be interested but not necessarily interesting?

    I’ve got some life stuff going on that means that I’m not really in a place to invest time and emotional energy in hobbies or my relationships, so I’m sort of a Netflix-addicted homebody outside of work. The introversion bit keeps me from getting back out there and rebuilding my work-life balance. People can pick up on the fact that I don’t have a lot going on anymore, and because I work with the kinds of people who are Always! Doing! Things! they don’t really gravitate towards me conversationally anymore. I always try to keep the conversation focused on the other person, but there’s only so much of that you can do. Being a Boring Data Lady is kind of beginning to affect my professional relationships, which isn’t great – either I’m quiet, or I’ll end up complaining or talking shop. What do I do?

    1. the gold digger*

      I have found that it is usually not hard to get people to talk about themselves. However, I expect I have been in situations where the population is not overwhelmingly introverts.

    2. Corgirl*

      Just know that you aren’t alone…reading through these comments actually reassure me that I am not a minority!

  21. Introverted At Work*

    I have a hard time focusing on multiple things at once. At work, I can only think about work-related things. If I go into social mode, it’s hard to snap out of it and focus on work again. So socializing for brief amounts of time at work is hard, although I’m getting better at it. For me, things like happy hour are the solution.

  22. Sea Otter*

    I’m wondering if anyone could give me some tips on an introvert and extrovert situation. I am a female INTJ and team lead. I have two team members right now who I get along with very well and they are also INxx type of personalities. Well, we had a 4th position posted, and our manager hired a transfer from a different department that is losing funding. The employee transferring was one we had interviewed for last year for our team and we did not hire her, because we had many reservations regarding her very strong personality and opinions, pontificating and talking too much to the point we felt that it would be disruptive to our department. She is transitioning to our department and I’ve had to spend some time with her in the past two weeks. She is defintely an extrovert, comes on waaay too strong and I took her to a meeting with a client group and IMO she talked way too much, wanted to be the center of attention, and came off as a know-it-all. FTR, while I am an introvert at the office, I am someone who can turn, “on” my extrovert side as needed and I do a lot of public speaking and media interviews without any problems and am well liked by our clients, so I did not need her to, “help” me at the meeting, but she kind of made it a point to dominate it. My other two team members and myself have several projects and this 4th hire is to play a supporting role and be more task oriented for the needs of the 3 of us, yet I’m finding that she has very strong opinions and ideas and is pushy about trying to force her ideas on us.

    I’m already dreading when she will be in our department full-time. She is acting too chummy (I don’t like being called, “darling,” esp by someone I barely know, it’s not as if we are close girlfriends), overly-confident for someone who is new to the role, plus suggesting that we lunch together (atypical in our organization, everyone does their own thing for lunch and she knows that) and doesn’t seem to understand the concept of personal space. I probably sound like an ice princess, but I am finding that this new teammate makes me bristle, she is so overbearing.

    So, what do you do when you have one particular person on your team who is a huge extrovert, strongly-opinionated and an attention hog, while the rest of the team is pretty calm, level-headed with more of a, “let’s discuss this” flavor? My supervisor is an extrovert and I do not think she considered this dynamic, but I already foresee that with the three of us who are more introverted, that this new addition to our team is going to rock the boat. As the team lead, I have set a friendly, collaborative, yet professional and supportive tone, but I am already feeling irritated by the way this new team member acts., just being around her exhausts me, she just comes on too strong. I’ve gotten feedback from a different person in our dept who is not on our team, but has served on committee with this 4th new person who has also expressed similar concerns to mine as soon as she heard about her transfer, so I don’t think that I am out in left fild. I typically read people pretty well and I think that such an extroverted person on a close-knit team of introverts is going to cause issues and I’m worried about how we can deal with this.

  23. Wanna-Alp*

    I think you’re going to have to mention it explicitly. I envision it being said in bits and pieces, in a light-hearted supportive fashion, along the lines of

    “It’s ok, we are listening. We can probably hear you a bit better if you take the volume down a couple of notches.”

    “Hang on, can you stand just there? I don’t want to play that personal space game where we end up with me reversing around the room and then me falling over that filing cabinet, amusing though I’m sure it would be!”

    i.e. little bits of repeated gentle training. If it doesn’t go so well and you end up having to talk to her in more depth, you could always try what she’d find helpful in interaction as an extrovert type, given that she’s landed in a team of introverts (trying to get discussion going here). If she has stuff, that’s useful information. If she doesn’t, it’s the perfect opening to say what the rest of you need from her.

      1. Sea Otter*

        Thanks, Wanna-Alp! I may have to try the direct approach. She is not catching on and it extends to more than just her strong mannerisms. She confessed to me earlier this week while we were on the way to another client meeting, “I love your style, do you x read fashion blog?” I said, thanks and told her I don’t read fashion blogs. So on top of everything else, now I feel like she has a girl crush on me… this is not the first comment she’s made to make me think this, in fact it verified my suspicion, bwcause i had a weird feeling about it. I have never been in this situation before, it’s easy to give men the cold shoulder if they are too interested, but this is not something I would have ever imagined. I’m happily married with kids, she mentioned to me a few months ago during a very off hand random conversation that she finalized her divorce a yr ago. Idk what to think, we’ve been so desperately understaffed and I’m very focused on my work and the success of our team, I’m really annoyed to be dealing with a weird situation like this on top of everything else. I also don’t want to be accused of being cold toward her, I’m generally a very nice person, but I feel like we just don’t mesh and it’s as if she keeps doing and saying things to make it worse.

        1. Data Lady*

          That doesn’t sound like a girl crush at all – it just sounds like she’s just trying to build rapport. Complimenting each other is one of the ways women do that. She’s just trying to be nice to you without constantly talking shop; don’t read too much into it.

          1. Sea Otter*

            Thanks for the feedback. She has not acted this way with any other coworkers, so it felt odd to me. Maybe I am just reading too much into it. I’ve had other coworkers compliment me before, but never got a weird feeling about it before, this is the first female coworker I’ve encountered that has creeped me out. I’ve also have had other coworkers mention that they notice that she comes on too strong, as well. I think most of us are waiting to see what happens when she comes to our dept FT. I’ve already told my supervisor that weekly 1-1 with this transfer would probably be a good idea, which surprised her, but I think the fact that I mentioned it, she will consider it.

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