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So, you got a new job.
How long were you excited about it before the nerves started to set in?
Two hours? Two days?
Landing a new job should be a time to celebrate– or, at the very least, a time to breathe a sigh of relief. But as an introvert, anxiety is the constant companion of uncharted waters, and it can easily drown out the happiness you should be experiencing.
You’re obviously capable of doing the job– or at least, you were capable of convincing your new boss of as much.
But are you capable of navigating the social sphere that accompanies your new workplace?
With the following strategies, the answer can be a resounding “yes.” Socializing at your new job might be uncharted territory, but we’re here to give you the roadmap.
[You might also be interested in my list with jobs for someone with social anxiety]
1. Introduce Yourself
I know this isn’t what you want to hear as an introvert, but sometimes it’s necessary for us to step outside of our comfort zones in order to accomplish the things we want.
Although it would be ideal if the other people in your workplace took the initiative to introduce themselves to “the new kid on the block,” unfortunately we can’t always rely on other people. If we do, we may find ourselves waiting forever.
If it’s important to you to socialize with your coworkers at your new job, then it’s up to you to make sure it happens by letting them know you who you are. After all, it’s hard to get to know someone if you don’t even know their name.
If you find yourself struggling to muster up the courage to make an introduction, remember that from someone else’s perspective, there’s absolutely nothing “weird” about a new employee introducing him/herself to others. In fact, it’s much more likely to be considered “weird” if you show up every day without ever taking the time to meet your coworkers.
Additionally, it’s most people’s natural inclination to be kind unless they’re given a reason to be otherwise. This means that you should encounter only positive reactions when introducing yourself to people.
Although people talk a lot about making introductions, it’s rare that you find a clear explanation of what this actually looks like in the workplace. So here is a step-by-step guide to introducing yourself at work:
- Approach with a smile. A smile is the human’s instinctive signal for “I come in peace.” Approaching with a smile will make you a non-threatening presence and will prepare the other person for a pleasant interaction. Furthermore, if this is the first time they’ve seen you, a smile will make a good first impression.
- Be casual. Unless you’re introducing yourself to someone in authority over you, there’s no reason to be formal when making an introduction. In fact, formality will likely put the other person slightly on edge and will cause them to be less likely to approach you in the future. Instead, using a casual, friendly tone of voice and body language will make your coworkers comfortable around you.
- State your name and what your job is. Your name will always be the most important part of any introduction, but when you’re in the workplace, the job you do is a very close second. It tells the person what type of role you play in the work environment as well as where they can find you in the future. For example, as a teacher I always introduced myself like this: “Hi, I’m Ms. Yates, the new 3rd grade teacher in 131.” Unless you’re in a school or another workplace that identifies people by last names exclusively, I’d recommend you offer your first and last name. Regardless, telling someone what you do and where to find you will make you available for future communication.
- Express enthusiasm. After you’ve given your name and job, express some excitement about being there and meeting the other employees. A complete introduction will sound like this:
“Hi, I’m [name] and I work in [job/location]. I’m new, so I just wanted to introduce myself to a few people and let you know I’m excited to be here and I’m looking forward to working with you!”
- End the introduction. After you make your initial introductory statement, the other person will almost certainly introduce themselves as well. Unless you have the time and inclination to strike up a conversation (and feel it will be well-received), end the introduction by saying, “It was nice meeting you! I’ll see you around!”
By following these steps, introducing yourself in the workplace doesn’t have to be as scary as you think, and it will guarantee you “get a foot in the door” of the social scene at your new workplace.
2. Have a Presence at the “Social Hub”
Every workplace has at least one; whether it’s the water cooler, the break room, the copy machine, or the potted plant by Ted’s cubicle, find the “social hub” at your new workplace.
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This will be the location where people congregate throughout the day to take a break and talk with other employees.
As an introvert, it may be your instinct to avoid this location at all costs. But having a presence at your workplace’s social hub will help the other employees see you as “one of them” instead of just “the new guy.”
It will also make it much easier for you to get involved in conversations with your coworkers, which will help you to quickly and easily make friends at your workplace.
3. Social Outings with Coworkers
As a kid, my mom would always tell my siblings and me to never invite ourselves over to a friend’s house because it was rude. Instead, she would say, wait for them to invite us themselves.
99.999% of the time my mother’s advice is spot-on, and in most situations, I still follow this rule. But the workplace is one of the rare exceptions.
Assuming it isn’t a date or an outing between two or three close friends, if you hear about a group outing after work, you should ask if you can come.
The most natural way to ask this is something along the lines of:
“Hey, I heard you guys are grabbing drinks after work. Mind if I tag along?”
This is all you really need to say. You may feel the need to offer some sort of explanation, such as “I was supposed to be going to ________ but my plans fell through,” but justifying your desire to socialize with your coworkers is totally unnecessary. In fact, doing so is likely to make you sound nervous and insecure, while a direct inquiry about your attendance exudes confidence.
If for some reason the event is exclusive and you’re unable to attend, don’t let it get you down. Believe that they’re being honest when they tell you why you can’t come; don’t over-analyze it and assume they must hate you. Be willing to try again with other events in the future.
Remember, it is most people’s natural reaction to be kind unless you’ve given them a reason to be otherwise.
If you’d like, initiate a social outing yourself. Ask a few people privately if they’d be able to come before making a widespread announcement so that you can guarantee you won’t end up alone.
Choose something low-pressure such as a casual restaurant with a loud atmosphere– this way you won’t find yourself in an awkwardly quiet room where people feel pressure to talk and become uncomfortable.
For many people, their jobs are their primary source of friends. Whether this is true for you or not, developing positive relationships with your coworkers can bring about only good results as you begin a new job.
Do workplace interactions come easily for you, or not so much? Share in the comments below!