You’re an extrovert, or maybe you just land further to the extroverted side of the spectrum but still consider yourself an introvert. Either way, there are ways to make working with a sensitive introvert go more smoothly for everyone involved. Perhaps the introverted coworker is your “work wife” or “work bestie” and you want to be the best coworker you can to her! You don’t have to leave out or ignore the introvert to keep her happy, she’s not a pet rock! You simply have to be mindful about how and when to engage with an introverted coworker socially.
How to Work with Sensitive Introverts: A Guide for Extroverts
I know this world wasn’t made for introverts, and we assume everyone is extroverted from the get-go. However, we need to build space for introverted people so they can thrive! Introverts have SO much to offer the workforce and are often underutilized as they struggle with some of the social dynamics necessary in modern office culture. As a coach for introverted and sensitive women, I get that you may simply not understand how to interact differently with an introvert. It feels odd to hold back or temper a core part of your being, right? Of course it does!
So, I have created a series of guides for you to understand how to engage with introverts in different settings! I’ve written a guide on being friends with an introvert. Another on dating an introvert. And, the one that possibly brought you here, being a good employer to an introvert. These guides are meant to be a starting point and not a catch-all endpoint. Therefore take what fits and leave behind what doesn’t. Every introverted woman is unique and has a different capacity for social interaction!
Respect a coworker’s boundaries as a sensitive, introverted woman
My number one tip for working with introverts is to respect their boundaries! Actually, that’s my number one tip for working with anyone. If an introvert says they don’t have the capacity for a social engagement, don’t bully them into attending anyway. That’s no fun for anyone involved! Something as simple as asking if they have capacity before scheduling a meeting or not being hurt when they decline a lunch invitation can go a long way. Keep asking! They’ll come when they have the capacity and desire to be that social. Their rejection of an invite isn’t personal, it’s simply them trying to maintain their social capacity both inside and outside of work.
Green Means Go!
There is a technique in the neurodiversity world where a stoplight system is used to denote when an autistic person or ADHD person has the capacity or ability to stop and visit. This can be used for introverts as well! Consider setting up a system that works with your office layout to let others know when the introvert is able and willing to be social. Honestly, set up the system with everyone so that unnecessary interruption of flow states occurs less frequently. This will increase productivity in general and avoid annoyance. Nobody likes to be constantly bothered with small talk!
Don’t expect an introverted coworker to always come to social events and understand if they leave early
Social events are great if you’re an extrovert. For introverted people, social gatherings are the definition of draining. Chances are, your introverted co-workers already max themselves out on social gatherings with friends and family. Adding more to their plate does nothing but deplete their already limited social gas tank. Don’t make social events mandatory and don’t expect introverts to be the life of the party! They might be enjoying themselves greatly by having a quiet conversation in the corner. Also, be prepared for them to leave early. The amount of social juice it takes to be present at a party is high, and introverts need time to recharge themselves after such an event.
Networking? More like “not-working”
They say it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. The fact is, business culture is not set up for introverts to succeed. Networking events can be loud and raucous and have the expectation of cold introductions. No thank you says the introvert. As an extrovert, you can help make these events more palatable by being your introverted co-worker’s buddy. Introducing yourself and then your introverted buddy will provide the social grease needed to get things going. Also, consider not expecting your introverted co-workers to attend networking events. Simply keep them in mind as you make connections and provide an email introduction afterward instead.
Send an email or chat before calling your introverted coworker
Ahh, the dreaded cold call. Even if you’re good friends, introverts dread a call out of the blue. These calls can foster unneeded anxiety and cut into flow time. For introverts, there is the additional social weight of having to converse when they could be working! While you may feel like you’re simply being friendly, these constant small interruptions can be incredibly draining on your introverted co-worker. Only call if you really must, and send an email or instant message with a brief description to warn them before you make the call. This can give them time to shift gears and ease anxiety over what the call might be about.
Hopefully, this was helpful for you and, ultimately, your introverted coworker! And, I’d love to know what other tips you have. As an extrovert who wants to help others learn more about supporting introverts, or as an introvert reading this. Please let me know in the comments!
Sensitive, Introverted Women: Consider the Radical Introvert Coaching Program
Regardless of where you are located, the office culture is difficult for an introvert! You don’t have to struggle on your own, however! I provide coaching services that help sensitive introverted women like yourself succeed and even thrive in the workplace and beyond. As an experienced therapist and sensitive introvert, I am uniquely able to help support YOU, wherever you are. Early career, mid-career, through a career shift…wherever you are right now. This coaching for introverted women program is different from other classes, therapy, and coaching you may have participated in before. We are going to be actively designing a life that is truly yours, amid the harsh reality of our fast-paced world. Whether you are in Florida, California, Texas, Washington, North Carolina, Oregon, Missouri, South Carolina, somewhere else in the United States, Canada, or even the United Kingdom and beyond…I want to help you THRIVE. To get started: