Author Topic: Trying to be more sociable and fun at work  (Read 4711 times)

Comar

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Trying to be more sociable and fun at work
« on: June 06, 2016, 03:46:07 AM »
I started a new job in january and I really like it compared to my old job. It pays better and the commute is shorter. Also the people are more relaxed in general and I feel I fit in much better. So what I'm saying is I want to keep the job and keep liking it.

I'm a somewhat quiet person, a loner you might say. I feel this affected me negatively in my old job. People appreciated my calm and listening nature but I often felt left out of conversations. I'm not really that shy, I just don't always feel the need to express myself about everyone and everything. When I started the new job I wanted to keep my calm and listening nature, my "natural state" but I also wanted to practise at being more sociable, open and "fun" in general. I thought to myself "this is just like a muscle, keep training it and it will become stronger and more natural to you".

So for the past 5 months I have given my best efforts at starting conversations, giving opinions, being friendly, trying to tell jokes or interesting stories, being confident and smiling. I also believe I have done this without being "that guy". I'm not loud, I have kept polite and calm and I listen. I believe this has worked very well, I'm well received and people seem to really like me.

So here is my problem. Being sociable is still very difficult for me. When will my "muscle" get stronger? I feel being confident and smiling, starting conversations and all that is very draining. Sometimes I have very good days but sometimes the effort gives me a kind of "mental fatigue". I worry the smiles will come harder, I will become more quiet and eventually revert to my old quiet boring self without this continious effort. Do you have something to share for my perceived problem? Similar experience, books for improvement?

tldr: My strategy at being sociable is working but very difficult. How do I keep it up?
« Last Edit: June 06, 2016, 03:47:41 AM by Comar »

lizzzi

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Re: Trying to be more sociable and fun at work
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2016, 05:42:45 AM »
I found myself in a somewhat similar situation after moving to a new neighborhood. I think that it helps to genuinely be interested in the people around you, and focus on them a bit...and there are a lot of everyday courtesies that become almost automatic and can be used without too much effort...like a wry comment about the weather...everybody talks about the weather, right? I found at work that there is a certain level of pleasant, business courtesy that makes you nice to work with, without being too personal or emotionally involved, and that is the balance to strive for. I, too, am a quiet person and a bit of a loner these days, and I don't think it's necessary to tell jokes or interesting stories if that doesn't come naturally to you. Just basic good manners, which really means being genuinely interested in the person you are talking to, and just using the pleasantries that are natural and anyone would say (the weather, the commute, whatever was topical on the news that morning, without getting too political...keep it light and superficial.) You sound like a nice person who is working on social skills appropriately...I don't think you need to try so hard. And after work, just veg out with yourself having the quiet, alone time that I think we all need to have...to re-charge the batteries and go back and do it all again the next day.

Freedomin5

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Re: Trying to be more sociable and fun at work
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2016, 05:44:45 AM »
You sound like the classic introvert. Introverts can be sociable, but it's a skill rather than a natural tendency. After being social for a time, introverts need to withdraw and recharge their batteries. Once you've recharged, smiling should come easily again. The key is to balance social time with alone time. So for example, if I've had a week where I've had to put myself out there (giving a seminar or socializing at a party/dinner), I make sure to keep the next few evenings free so I can be alone at home.

The book "Quiet" by Susan Cain does a good job explains the power/benefits of being an introvert.

mozar

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Re: Trying to be more sociable and fun at work
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2016, 10:52:26 AM »
I'm an introvert and I struggle with this too. At previous jobs I would smile for the first 6 months and then stop and then people would wonder what happened.
 I also started a new better job in January. I decided not to smile at all ever but ask people about their opinions about work or about their personal lives if they mentioned it. I realized that most people only want to talk about themselves anyway, which actually makes it easier for me. Just ask questions and walk away after the answer. They will think you are so great because you asked about them. I've also worked on being an expert,  so no matter what people actually think of my personality, they still think highly of me.

Comar

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Re: Trying to be more sociable and fun at work
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2016, 06:02:25 AM »
Thank you for the encouraging tips. I will be sure to pick up Quiet someday (so many books, so little time). I have also been learning some about stoicism and find that it helps. I was also thinking about reading How to Win Friends and Influence People, it's just that so far I have felt the title could be better. I feel like the point of the book is to make me a master manipulator or something.

slappy

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Re: Trying to be more sociable and fun at work
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2016, 06:22:03 AM »
Thank you for the encouraging tips. I will be sure to pick up Quiet someday (so many books, so little time). I have also been learning some about stoicism and find that it helps. I was also thinking about reading How to Win Friends and Influence People, it's just that so far I have felt the title could be better. I feel like the point of the book is to make me a master manipulator or something.

I felt the same way about that book!

marty998

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Re: Trying to be more sociable and fun at work
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2016, 06:32:30 AM »
Do you want to know what worked for me?

Get drunk on a Friday night and start telling stories about the random shit you have gotten up to in the past. Then join in on the general ranting about the state of the world.

As long as you remember the golden rule of never bad mouthing your boss you'll be fine.


MsSindy

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Re: Trying to be more sociable and fun at work
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2016, 06:37:36 AM »
Thank you for the encouraging tips. I will be sure to pick up Quiet someday (so many books, so little time). I have also been learning some about stoicism and find that it helps. I was also thinking about reading How to Win Friends and Influence People, it's just that so far I have felt the title could be better. I feel like the point of the book is to make me a master manipulator or something.

I've read both Quiet and How to Win Friends, and coming from a fellow introvert, I STRONGLY suggest that you read Quiet first (and like, read it now).  It was the most eye-opening book I have ever read that explained a lot about why I am the way I am, and how to manage through it.  After Quiet, then read How to Win Friends, as you'll be able to apply your Introvert filter to it so it will come naturally and not forced.

mustachepungoeshere

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Re: Trying to be more sociable and fun at work
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2016, 07:20:35 AM »
I feel being confident and smiling, starting conversations and all that is very draining.

I've found indirect ways to be more social with co-workers. I've somehow ended up the person responsible for purchasing birthday cakes (at office expense). Maximum appreciation from team with minimal interaction - buy cake, put cake on table, send email alerting team to presence of cake, allow offie extrovert take over for the speeches and singing. I'm also the person tasked with sending flowers (e.g. a colleague is currently in hospital, the company sent flowers, she texted me to say thank you and we chatted back and forth for a while about how she is feeling).

Be on the look-out for opportunities to socialise with co-workers on your own terms, and if they don't exist, create them. When I started on my team, we didn't do Friday drinks, birthday cakes, etc. As we have introduced those things, the office in general has become more social which means it's easier for the introverts in the office to go along with it.

Fishindude

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Re: Trying to be more sociable and fun at work
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2016, 08:08:19 AM »
Five months is not much time to change a behavior.
Hang in there, things will improve.

Guava

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Re: Trying to be more sociable and fun at work
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2016, 05:27:09 PM »
I am about as introverted as introverts come (30 out of 30 on the MBTI) and I have struggled with this as well. I have been at the same place with the same people for 5 years and have really only developed relationships because they are huge extroverts. But I decided I could manage to do a fee things that weren't terrible and exhaustinget and made me friendly. I always hold the door open, I walk around with a smile, and I ask anyone I pass how they are. Over time genuine relationships developed and I never had to over extend myself  or do lunches or anything. Just being friendly was enough.

letired

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Re: Trying to be more sociable and fun at work
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2016, 06:13:58 PM »
Fellow introvert who loves spending time with people, for for whom it is a net drain.

My strategy is to default to 'yes' when asked to do something social. Someone is planning a happy hour? yes! Want to play a quick round of <nerd card game> after lunch? yes! Want to walk to the fancy coffee shop across the street? yes! (except I bring my water bottle and hydrate, and don't buy coffee!)


meerkat

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Re: Trying to be more sociable and fun at work
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2016, 05:54:53 AM »
I found that asking people about themselves (their weekend, their families, whatever) works well because they like to talk about themselves so they'll carry the "weight" of the conversation. There's also sometimes I will deliberately plan a lunch where I can have some peace and quiet. Sometimes even just a quiet lunch wasn't enough - at one point I worked in the middle of a call center and my husband would suggest getting dinner out to save ourselves the effort of cooking and cleaning. I could never get excited about the idea  because I'd be sitting in a room of talking people for another hour when all I wanted was peace and quiet. Alternately there was a time when I was making a point to go out to lunch with someone from work once every other week or once a month. It was infrequent enough that I still had my other lunch hours to myself but it gave me a good opportunity to connect one on one with my coworkers outside of meetings and away from the coffee maker.

SomedayStache

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Re: Trying to be more sociable and fun at work
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2016, 07:30:29 AM »
Yep - I am right there with you.

Honestly, it has never gotten easier for me.  It's a big acting game and my fundamental introverted self is not going to change.

What has helped me is developing real relationships with coworkers.  I've worked here 8 years and there are only two (maybe 3) people that I have an actual relationship with.  When I am talking or interacting with them it isn't pretend or forced.  So these little relationships help energize me to continue the charade/front I put on with everyone else.

Axecleaver

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Re: Trying to be more sociable and fun at work
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2016, 09:29:45 AM »
You're describing the process of "learned extroversion." As _Quiet_ explains, an introvert's brain is wired differently, and we can't change that. But we can learn how to navigate through an extroverted world effectively, and that means learning some basic tricks to put others at ease. The classic watercooler discussion, complaining about the weather, the elevator speech. As you intuited, this gets easier with practice.

Introverts have unique strengths that an extrovert can't match. We're spectacular salesmen because of our ability to empathize more effectively and create deeper individual connections with others. When speaking in public, an extrovert sees the crowd as a single entity with which they engage. We see each person in the crowd as an individual; so we speak to those individuals and our public speech is more personal and engaging. Mahatma Ghandi, Abraham Lincoln and Warren Buffet are all recognized as spectacular, inspiring public speakers, all classic introverts.

Know your limits and recognize that you'll need down time after practicing socialization. You can learn to pass for an extrovert, but you'll never draw energy from the activity. It takes focus and mental commitment, and it will wear you out. I found a lot of useful discussion on Quora about this topic; not surprisingly, there are a lot of introverts participating in online discussions.

yourusernamehere

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Re: Trying to be more sociable and fun at work
« Reply #15 on: June 17, 2016, 06:37:30 PM »
Another vote for "Quiet" here. I'm a not-shy introvert and the book was immensely helpful in better understanding myself and the people around me. I can also tell you that for me, it took about two years of intentional effort before workday extroversion started to feel pretty natural. It helps when you enjoy your work and can find things you feel passionate about. As many others have said, just being a listener can bring many people to want to socialize with you, and lots of folks are happy to carry the conversation. Don't feel that you have to change your personality, but at the same time - good on you for recognizing that interpersonal relationships have value for you, and trying to do something to build them.

MrsTuxedocat

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Re: Trying to be more sociable and fun at work
« Reply #16 on: June 17, 2016, 07:20:39 PM »
Have you thought of joining Toastmasters?

I joined Toastmasters to work on my shyness and impromptu speaking.

BlueHouse

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Re: Trying to be more sociable and fun at work
« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2016, 05:07:25 PM »

So for the past 5 months I have given my best efforts at starting conversations, giving opinions, being friendly, trying to tell jokes or interesting stories, being confident and smiling. I also believe I have done this without being "that guy". I'm not loud, I have kept polite and calm and I listen. I believe this has worked very well, I'm well received and people seem to really like me.

tldr: My strategy at being sociable is working but very difficult. How do I keep it up?
  Instead of giving your opinions, ASK your colleagues for their opinions.  and be interested in the answers.  Work on getting to know how they tick, and they will find you to be the most interesting person in the world.