Do You Need To Be Sociable To Succeed?

sociable-introverts

I’ve been reading comments left by a group of fellow introverts in an on-line forum, and I’m feeling incensed by the treatment of introverts by some employers.

A couple of people even stated that they were “marked down” in appraisals, for not socialising enough with their team mates at lunchtime and for after-work drinks. I think that’s appalling!

I can remember, in one of my many jobs, my “grandfather” asked my line manager whether he thought I chatted too much at work. My manager told me about it – so I confronted my grandfather.

“If you have anything to ask about me, then I suggest you ask me,” I said.

“OK then – do YOU think you chat too much at work?” he asked.

“It’s called RELATIONSHIP BUILDING,” I explained.

“Couldn’t you do that during your lunch hour?” he countered.

“NO!” I exclaimed. “I don’t want to SOCIALISE with these people – I just want to have a good working relationship with them.”

I think he was quite taken aback!

But to me, it made perfect sense. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the people I worked with – in fact, many of my closest friends are former work colleagues – but I needed time to myself during the lunch hour, so that I could prepare myself for the afternoon ahead.

At the time, I didn’t realise that was due to me being an introvert. I just thought I was different from everyone else – an “outsider”. And I have to say that, unlike many people I’ve met since starting this Introverts In Business movement, I felt totally OK with that.

But the wonderful thing about working for yourself is that you don’t have to put up with that sort of nonsense! You can choose who you work with, and you can also choose HOW you work.

So if you want to take time out to re-charge your batteries in between client work, you can choose to do so. If you don’t want to spend your time networking face-to-face, you can choose to network on-line.

You might still encounter people who don’t understand you – who think you’re strange. But the wonderful thing is, those people can no longer decide how – or whether – your career will progress. You have total control.


What do you think? Do you feel pressured to socialise more than you would like, in order to further your career or business?

6 comments… add one

  • Now that I’m working for myself, I feel like I have a perfect balance of interacting with people vs getting that CRUCIAL time to myself that keeps me sane.

    But I have to admit, I didn’t always feel like that. I’ve had jobs in the past where I could happily chat to my workmates across a desk (mine or theirs, or at the water cooler).

    As soon as we left the work environment, though, I’d freeze up. I could happily answer questions, but actually engaging in what I thought of as “normal-people conversation” – which I now realise is generally extroverted conversation – I couldn’t think of what to say to start conversations. And then, after a social event, I’d just feel exhausted, as though I’d run some kind of psychological marathon – even if I enjoyed it.

    I used to believe that this meant I was anti-social at heart, and tried my hardest to get over it for the longest time. It was such a freaking relief to discover that no, I was just introverted.

    I got a lot better at only going to the social events I genuinely wanted to be at (and to disappearing to spend lunchtimes reading in my car!) It might have got in the way of my career development, but to be honest, at that point, I was fine with that.

    It was far more important that I actually stayed sane!
    Tanja @ Crystal Clarity recently posted..Resource Review: Promotion for Introverts home study programme (it’s finally HERE!)My Profile

  • Julia Barnickle

    I used to believe I was anti-social too, Tanja. Like you, I was happy to chat to colleagues within the four walls of the office, but I dreaded any social gatherings – the worst being the Christmas party!! (UGH – just the thought of it makes me feel ill…!) I now realise that it’s to do with the number of people I interact with at one go. I’m happiest talking with one or two people, but anything over 6 is just too much – unless it’s a group debate about something that matters to me, where I seem to switch to being more extrovert!

  • Thank you for writing this article. I was assisting Nick Williams and Beverly Glick on a wonderful ‘ Finding the plot ‘ workshop, for Inspired Entrepreneur. Nick mentioned your piece, and I read it with great interest. It is great to know your organisation exists. Thanks. Kathy

  • Julia Barnickle

    Thanks Kathy – and welcome! I’m glad you were able to find us, with a little help from Nick Williams. :-)

  • Julia – very helpful article. I am going to start to do more networking to find a job … so going to juggle the introvert in me with sharing my precious evenings (which really is ‘me’ time!). Hopefully I can attract other introverts!

  • Julia Barnickle

    Thanks Sheelah. If you’re true to yourself, I’m sure you will attract other introverts. It’s funny how many of my friends are introverts, now that I think about it – even the louder ones! Good luck with the juggling, and with the job search. :-)

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