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.