Three lessons on connecting with introverts

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I was sitting next to someone who mostly kept to herself.  We didn’t work together often so I barely got to communicate with her other than the usual morning hello since we were both very busy. One afternoon as I was coming back to my desk, I saw her sitting at her desk and decided to send her a slack message asking if she wanted a break. I suggested we go sit in the cafe and just catch up. She quickly responded yes and we walked over to the cafe, sat down and began to talk. The conversation shifted to many topics outside of work including family and adjusting to a new city. I learned so much in a 30-minute conversation and was able to gain a greater understanding of the world from her point of view and find things we had in common.

There are three important lessons this experience taught me about introverts.

They also crave connection
Just because introverts aren’t consistently engaging or seeking to engage with others, doesn’t mean they don’t have the need to connect with others. It is just harder for some to initiate engagement and a simple acknowledgement can go a long way into opening up about themselves or the work they do.

Simply asking “how are you doing” can go a long way
We all go through challenges both personally and professionally but for introverts it can be especially challenging managing those at work. A genuine check in with them can open up the door to some great conversations and insight. They get to vent or discuss challenges they are going through and you get the opportunity to assist if possible or gain some insight.

They enjoy talking about things of interest to them
Everyone is passionate about something be it family, friends, hobbies or their work. Taking the time to genuinely engage with someone on their interests opens up the opportunities for learning something new.  Personally I’ve witnessed someone become an entirely different person when probed about something they are interested in or passionate about.

It took me a while to realize how much this conversation meant to my coworker. Not only did we get a chance to connect on a personal level but it changed the whole dynamic of our relationship. What I considered a random gesture turned into a great friendship full of insights, advice and much needed laughs. If you have a question or are interested in learning more, connect with me.

RJ Johns