How to Train Shy, Introverted People

Do we treat shy or introverted people any different from other trainees? We should. This relates back to my differentiated learning post. This will be a short blog–especially short for me.

Everyone has encountered that person at work who doesn’t look at you, stays buried in paperwork or the computer, sneaks off to lunch and leaves right on time. He or she rarely has any contact with others. We have to distinguish whether the person is an introvert or painfully shy--they aren’t always the same thing.

Introverts don’t care much to be with others to a varying degree. For example, I’m an introvert, yet I still managed to be on stage as an actor, speaker, teacher. So, that definition of introvert fits more how I re-fuel. Introverts re-fuel by a quiet activity like reading, watching television. After every performance or rehearsal, I would need an hour of downtime. The extrovert gains energy from social contact and can drive an introvert absolutely crazy, depending on how far apart they are. So, what we are dealing with is someone who is not so much an introvert, but an extremely shy person. There is probably a psychological term for that, but I don’t think it’s important now.

Aren’t we and and the employer concerned with how this shy person does his or her job? My second question: How did this person get a job in the first place? Perhaps, it was a job that he or she only had to take a test for, meet briefly with the supervisor, and not say much at all. Government maybe? Entry-level position. I doubt this person will be able to fight for any promotion but he or she will always look good on paper since there is no contact there. For ease of writing, let’s just name the “person” Doris or Bill and they are interchangeable so no arguments about sex.

Everyone deals with the lack of recognition differently–even shy people, and probably–different from the sexes as well. Doris is always in tears in her supervisor’s office. She feels she has tried and tried and tried. She has a great resume, but no people skills and doesn’t show any initiative, which would be a risk she would have to take in dealing with other people.

Bill has a family, and, although his job is steady and his wife works, there is a strain on their marriage because his wife now makes more money than he does and doesn’t understand why he can’t get a raise or a promotion. Neither does he.

Like Doris, he looks good on paper.

The shy types lack confidence, self-esteem perhaps (shyness is not always due to low self-esteem), the ability to mingle with fellow workers, or need to face the realistic fact that their employer is not going to promote someone like Doris or Bill who need to deal with the public when they clearly can’t. Employment is rarely a competition of who made the best resume, although there are people who make resumes for people who would tell you otherwise.

What do most employers do to deal with a Doris or Bill? They fire them for incompetence, for not being able to do their jobs.

  • The ideal would be to send them to a therapist or even a trainer who specializes in building confidence and helping them navigate the corporate/company world.
  • The same person or someone in HR could help them prepare for interviews.
  • The company HR could also set up a work plan that uses little steps to make Doris or Bill more comfortable with social contact.

They don’t have to be the nerds of the office. And, if you are the one providing the answer, all the better. I’m sure we’ll think up more ways to train as we go. Please send questions or comments. I’d love to hear from you.

As the Host of the Blog site, I ask that you take a look at my new blog that focuses on other topics than training. My training/speech blog is still out there, but I’m letting it die in cyber space. My best selling e-book, The Cave Man Guide to Training and Development is out. I need to tell you that I know Cave Man is not spelled that way and that is on purpose. The Cave is where we work, play and live. Read the book and you’ll get it. I hope to have two more following it soon. I also have a futuristic e-novel, Harry’s Reality, a look at what happens when society gives up control of the mismanaged dying planet to an evolving artificial intelligence. It is also available at any book store that sells e-books for direct downloads to your e-reader, and directly through Smashwords. By the way on my blog site you’ll find snippets of the novel and a coupon for a free download of my novel through Smashwords. Happy training. For more resources about training, see the Training library.

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