Jana is an office assistant in a busy physician’s office. A recent Facebook post about creating an introvert-friendly workplace prompted this interesting question from her.”I consider myself a moderate introvert. I like it when it’s quiet and nothing (and nobody) distracts me from what I’m doing. In fact, my favorite hours at work are Saturdays (half the staff) and after 5 pm, when everybody else is gone, and I am left to myself. My biggest problem is knowing how to deal with nosy co-workers who find my life curious enough to ask a billion questions about it.What are you doing on the weekend? Where are you going? Who’s gonna be there? How was it? What is the polite way to tell people at work to mind their own business? Why should I tell them about my life and if I should, to what extent? HELP!” What is an introvert solution for her?
Here are some ways of handling the situation that I offered to Jana. What would you tell her?
1) Try “Accepting the Alien”, as I call it in my book, The Genius of Opposites. Your more extroverted co-workers are trying to connect and don’t see these questions as intrusive but as a way to get to know you and understand more about who you are. They are attempting to build the relationship.
2) Prepare some short general responses to these anticipated questions that you can repeat. An example: ” I am going to be with friends.” This will be less exhausting for you. Don’t feel obligated to give details.
3) When you find yourselves talking with your co-workers one-on-one and at other times , share some info about yourself to help them get to know you better.
4 )Try the broken record technique. Just repeat what you have said in different ways. For instance, ” I am working on our plans” can be followed by the statement “We are finalizing our plans.” People will lose interest after awhile and you can get back to your work which is your ultimate goal anyway, right?