I have recently rejoined the workforce. I have been out of the loop for about 8 years and my social skills needed a bit of polish. I was lucky to get a job working at my university. So, I know a lot of my coworkers. Many of them are also graduates of the university. I made friends with a lot of the professor as well when I was a student. Needless to say, it was a relatively easy transition.
Although I was in familiar territory, I really didn’t get to know any of the aforementioned people socially. All of them were interesting, intelligent, and good people, but being the introvert that I am, I didn’t make the extra effort to seek any additional social interaction. Recently, I was asked to lunch by a colleague of mine. I accepted because I can generally handle a one-on-one lunch date. She and I had often talked about getting together outside of work, but my introverted self did not push the issue even though I think she is a great person. On the ride to the restaurant, we talked and laughed and I started to plan future outings with her in my mind as she and I have more in common than I could have ever imagined. When we arrived at the restaurant I was told by my companion that several more of our coworkers would be joining us for lunch. I smiled on the outside, but I could feel myself powering down. I knew all of the people we were meeting and I liked them, but they would all be together with me at the table.
When we arrived the group had already assembled in a very large booth and they were beckoning us to slide in. We did. The group we were meeting have very big personalities and I love that about them, but it can be draining for a person like me. While sitting at the table, something amazing was happening. My lunch buddy was powering down too! She too was smiling nervously and way too much while nodding in agreement when making eye contact with someone. I don’t think either of us said much after sitting down. The rest of the group dominated the conversation. Of course I didn’t mind and she didn’t either. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed lunch, but I was glad when it was over. When my companion and I got back in the car, we both recognized the other’s introversion. We were relieved to find out we shared some level of tolerable discomfort during lunch. She suggested that our next lunch would be a one-on-one and we could actually talk to each other. I was thrilled! She also suggested a tea and reading day. The plan is to bring a book to one of the tea shops downtown, sit, drink tea, and read. I was thrilled to know that someone else in the world thinks of that as a good time!
I am so glad that I had the chance get to know this person. The most wonderful thing is that she too is an introvert and although we enjoy each other’s company, we can be content just drinking tea and reading books. No talking necessary.
I would like to encourage all of us introverts to take some small steps out out our comfort zones and get to know someone new. That someone may be the type of person you make a lasting connection with.