Could shyness be killing your career?
Ever had a co-worker mention that you come across as distant, intimidating, aloof or a boss b*tch?
I certainly have! On one hand, I was intrigued and even flattered that anyone would fear little ‘ol me. As someone who was incredibly self-conscious about what others thought of me, I used to dream of being able to handle a confrontation without tears or trepidation.
While being able to handle a confrontation with grace is certainly a trait of high self-worth, so is the ability to create social connections. After all, most people truly desire to be acknowledged and accepted by others.
On the other hand, being labeled as cold or distant by my peers and co-workers was a red flag that they didn’t feel accepted by me. Although this revelation saddened me at first, I knew I needed to switch out of a victim mindset and look at the facts.
Most people won't take the time to examine their beliefs about another, and for many, their perception is their reality. It's human nature for us to suspect others who could pose a threat to us and could be trying to "undermine" or "compete".
Maybe you are thinking, "Oh no...This describes me, but I was just trying to keep my head down and focus on my never ending to-do list."
Believe me. I understand your frustration.
So what should you do if your shyness, introversion or social anxiety has led people to categorized you as the office b*tch?
Below are a few simple actions you can take to create a sense of warmth and connection with your co-workers:
- Stop using your phone as a crutch. Show up to meetings without your devices. You’ll eliminate the habit of looking down or away when co-workers present their ideas. Simply giving someone your full attention will signal that you care about what they have to say.
- Play the "Hello" game on the way to the restroom or to grab a coffee. Your goal is to greet everyone you pass in the hallways. You don’t even have to speak. A simple head nod, smile and eye contact work just fine. This signals to your co-workers that you are approachable.
- Ask for help or a different perspective on a problem or project. Sure, you may take pride in your ability to work autonomously, but people often feel it is a compliment to their intelligence when you ask for their insight. Once a week, make an effort to reach out to a colleague to discuss a project and ask if they have any insight they could offer. Think of your co-worker’s expertise as access to real-world knowledge that you just can't get via a textbook.
- Compliment others occasionally. Show your graciousness by acknowledging someone for a job well done. The trick is that you have to mean it. Otherwise, you’ll come off as snarky. If your co-worker presented to a group, congratulate him or her on a point that resonated with you. There is absolutely no need to formulate a witty or intellectual remark. You could simply notice a certain color shirt or jacket brings out the color of someone’s eyes.
Do you have any other strategies to share for connecting with your co-workers? Do you have other work concerns you'd like me to address in an upcoming post? Let me know in the comments below.