The Introvert’s Survival Guide: Happy Hour

Through the internet, introverts have found a safe haven to counter the extraverted hegemony of the workplace. We have guides for how to care for the introverts in your life, a defense of introverted leadership, and remarkable talks and books from introverts like Susan Cain. As an introvert myself, I find some of the most basic parts of work challenging in an inherently extraverted workplace. The worst of these is the counterintuitively named “Happy Hour.”

Happy hour is hell for introverts. You meet a mass of co-workers in a loud, busy place at the end of a long work day. For a personality that likes quiet, one on one conversations and needs time to recharge after a lot of stimulation (like, say, a work day), this is not a recipe for success. Yet happy hours are also opportunities to bond with colleagues and build a relationship with your boss. Those small pockets of good will can help you collaborate better across teams, find your next exciting project, and also just find good friends at work. Introversion is no reason to miss that chance.

Here are a few quick tips that I use to survive Happy Hour:

  • Show up late. Take twenty minutes between work and arriving. Sit at a park bench and read a book. Or pop off the Metro one stop early and enjoy the evening walk. Whatever it is, take a few minutes of quiet to decompress so you can put your best foot forward.

  • Take a buddy. If you can arrive with a colleague or friend, you’ll be guaranteed a good conversation and might feel more comfortable approaching others. Introverts in general prefer the intimacy of a deep conversation, so arrive with a person who can join you in one.

  • Know who you are there to meet. If you can’t arrive with a friend in tow, make sure the person you’ll want to meet with will be there. Change it from the free-flowing hour of shallow conversations and ensure you’ll build a new relationship with another team member or catch up with an old colleague.

  • Don’t go! Send an email and set up a coffee with the people you’ll miss because you go straight home to enjoy a book alone. Happy hours are not the only way to build your network and strengthen your relationships. If none of the above tricks will make it bearable, then acknowledge your limitations and find another way to achieve your goals.

There are strengths and weaknesses on both sides of the introversion and extraversion coin. How do you work on your strengths? What tricks do you use to counter your weaknesses?

Ngiste Abebe is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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