It’s OK to Cross the Street to Avoid Small Talk

By HR West 2019 speaker, Judy Dang.

I laughed when I saw that gentle encouragement. After reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, I hopped over to the Quiet Revolution website. Quiet Manifesto #7: It’s OK to cross the street to avoid making small talk. I chuckled because I’ve regularly done exactly that.

Are you an Introvert?

Take this brief quiz to find out!

For Introverts at Work

So how can introverts enjoy this preference for introspection, depth, and quiet in a work culture that celebrates the extrovert ideal?

Here are a few of my favorite ideas from Ms. Cain’s book:

  1. Create restorative niches throughout your day: take a 10-minute walk outside after high-stimulation meetings.
  2. Arrive at meetings early to pick the best seat that supports comfortable and active participation. Latecomers tend to get relegated to the back rows farthest from the action.
  3. Go to work events with an extrovert coworker you like and trust. Her energy may rub off on you and give you friendly support to engage with others.

For Extroverts at Work

And if you’re an extrovert, here are ways to work with introverts that’s rewarding for both of you:

  1. Don’t assume that a quiet coworker is passive. He may be actively engaged inwards to solve the thorniest problems without showing it externally.
  2. Ask for feedback in writing in addition to a group setting. Introverts prefer to provide thoughtful input after deliberation instead of during spontaneous discussions.
  3. Introverts are not antisocial; they just prefer smaller groups because they listen deeply; big groups are overstimulating. So if your company hosts staff events, offer a variety of small-group and all-hands choices.

And by all means, do cross the street if you don’t feel like small talk with me. I won’t take it personally!

About Judy Dang
Based in San Francisco, Judy T. Dang is a productivity expert who works with clients to tackle physical and mental clutter so they can achieve their most meaningful goals. Clients go from feeling stuck to moving forward.

Clients go from feeling stuck to moving forward. Find out why Mondays are her favorite days here.

Judy will present, When Everything Is Important, What Do I Do First?™, at HR West 2019.  March 11-13 in Oakland California.

Be sure to register for this important annual HR Industry Conference!
Follow #HRWest19 on social media.



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One Comment

  1. Have you ever been frustrated because a coworker appears too quiet? Or too loud and brash? Check out Susan Cain’s book to learn more about your own introvert-extrovert preferences. That way you can better understand your own style plus learn empathy for others’ different temperaments.

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