I’m an introvert in an extrovert’s world. I work in a traditionally extroverted job role, and the company I work for is full of people who I would label extroverts.
Unfortunately over the years my job role has also required me to do a lot of travelling around Europe. Sometimes it’s with colleagues I know well, and other times it’s to meet colleagues I’ve barely met once or twice. The thought of this used to quite literally paralyse me with fear on the morning of a trip. I’d wake up, and my guts would feel rock hard in my stomach and I’d start shivering uncontrollably.
Luckily, over the nearly 4 years I’ve been at my company, I have learnt to deal with this situation a little better and I think part of that is down to my own confidence. I used to care. But now – we have nothing in common? Oh dear, good job we’re just occasional work colleagues instead of potential friends! Lots of people think small talk is overrated, but it’s been my saviour during these moments, so I’m here to introduce you to a couple of questions and tips to help you break the introvert ice – a guide on how to socialise at work for introverts.
Any weekend plans?
If I’m travelling to a foreign country and meeting with a foreign colleague, this is a great question to ask because nine times out of ten it requires them to explain to me a lot of information on their local area. Perhaps they are going on a mountain bike trip? People will go to great lengths to set the scene for you, describe what’s there, how long it takes from their house, sometimes they might even show pictures.
Have you been on holiday this year?
Of course they have, and this question opens up tons and tons of follow up questions for you. How did you get there? Have you been before? What was the weather like? Did you enjoy the food? Did you visit any interesting sights? If you’re like me and you just want to keep the conversation flowing so the person doesn’t realise how much of an awkward turtle you are, this is a brilliant piece of small talk.
What is your job role at this company? How long have you been in this role?
A boring one that, quite frankly, I couldn’t care less about – but sometimes you need to stay on topic for the working environment. There are two camps when it comes to the answer to this question. The first camp is an older individual, or middle aged, they’ve spent a lot of time at the company and they’re experienced in the role – you can learn from them. The second camp is young, a similar age to me, they’re new in the role and it’s more than likely I can gage that they have some similar interests as me – you can goof off with them.
When all else fails… How was your journey here?
I don’t really care what time in the morning you had to roll yourself out of bed to get to the airport but, quite frankly, I’ve run out of other things to say. So tell me about your journey whilst I try and think of something else remotely intelligent to ask you about.
BONUS TIP! Although it seems like it could be a good conversation starter, avoid asking people if they’ve seen a certain film or TV show. If they haven’t, it’s an instant conversation killer.
I hope some of these tips will help you when you’ve travelling for work in the UK or abroad. Just remember: you can do it!
I would love to hear your types for socialising in the working environment – let me know in the comments!
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