Introverts: 4 Tips to Build Relationships at Work

business relationshipGuest Post by Jennifer Kahnweiler

In a discussion I once had on HuffPost Live, we spoke about how preparation helps when introverts attempt to make friends. It occurred to me that building relationships at work also relates to preparation. In fact, the quiet influencers who have the most fluid and comfortable conversations consciously prepare for these interactions.

Here are some examples of how they prepare to build relationships at work.

1)  Set up space and times to talk. Consider how your workspace enhances or discourages conversations. If you work in a noisy or busy space take a walk with a colleague or move to a private area.  Scope these places out ahead of time. Schedule phone calls or video conferencing so that you are both focused.

2) Make time for face time. Be intentional about it. John Maeda, the head of the Rhode Island School of Design learned to get off the computer and connect with people. He found that scheduling ‘walking around’ time was useful.

3) Allow for serendipity. Companies are encouraging workplace happenstance that leads to innovation and creative ideas.  For instance, the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs built central bathrooms at Pixar to foster connections between different people. Google’s Vice-President, David Radcliffe, designed their 2015 headquarters in a way to encourage ‘casual collisions of the work force.’  As a result, the new design will place employees no further than a 2 1/2 minute walk from each other. Why not eat lunch with some new people once in while or take your breaks in a different part of the building?

4) Prepare questions ahead of time. At gatherings you can ask, “What brought you to this meeting?” or, “What have you been working on lately?”  Get the ball rolling by preparing some talking points about your own interests and background. Selah Abrams, a quiet influencer says, “you can read people like a good book and if you engage in a conversation you can learn even more.”

So with a little prep you will be more confident AND strengthen your workplace relationships.

Originally published 8/10/2013 on JenniferKahnweiler.org.

Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, Ph.D., Certified Speaking Professional, is a bestselling author and global keynote speaker known as the “champion for introverts.” In addition to her latest book, The Genius of Opposites, she has written two bestselling books about introverts (Quiet Influence and The Introverted Leader), which have been translated into 14 languages.

3 thoughts on “Introverts: 4 Tips to Build Relationships at Work”

  1. I really like these ideas. As an introvert, it would help me to have those “casual collisions” — it would make me more likely to interact AND although I derive my energy from being alone, I also find a certain energy in those casual interactions!

  2. I agree, Paula. There’s quite a bit of psychological research to support this notion, under the heading of “functional proximity.” People who are closer to each other (like neighbors, people who work on the same floor) and people who run into each other (like at the same bus stop or cafeteria) tend to form relationships more easily than people who are not functionally proximate. It makes sense. Personally, I’ve seen this work both ways. When someone moves or changes schedules or something, it’s easy to fall out of touch with them.

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