I've been a work-at-home professional for about ten years. And although it is been years since I've worked in an office setting, I vividly remember the dynamics between coworkers. Back then, I felt that the office was nothing more than a high school for adults. There were cliques, just like high school. The rumor mill was always in full force. And just like our school days, there were quiet people who didn't say much throughout the day.
They were friendly people who always offered a greeting. But for the most part, they stuck to themselves and preferred work over conversation.
I always made an effort to be friendly at work and engage my coworkers. And although I didn't put up a wall between me and my coworkers (at least, I don't think I did), I am a natural-born introvert. Therefore, I understood the quiet person in the office.
Many of my coworkers, on the other hand, weren't as sympathetic. They would make negative comments and assumptions about those who didn't speak up. I prefer to pick my battles, so I didn't always address these remarks. But as more people jumped on the "attack the quiet person" bandwagon, I felt that it was my responsibility to set the record straight.
Here are four myths about quiet people in the workplace that need to be entertained.
1. Quiet Workers are Antisocial
Although I understand why someone might think this; the truth is, not all quiet people prefer solitude over relationships. They might stay in full work-mode at the office. But if you get them away from their desk, they become fun, lively people.
Quiet people are sometimes unfairly excluded. For example, they might not receive invitations to join a group of coworkers for lunch or happy hour. If this person deals with shyness, he might feel uncomfortable inviting himself; yet, he may happily accept an invitation, as it provides the opportunity to get to know his colleagues better, which can help him come out of his shell.
2. Quiet Workers Dislike Their Coworkers
In most cases, this is the furthest thing from the truth. It all goes back to the quiet person's comfort level. If he's shy, it might take him a little longer to warm up to his coworkers. And if he's an introvert, it might be easier for him to work alone, as too much chattering or socialising during the day can be mentally exhausting.
3. Quiet Workers Think That They're Better Than Others
I don't know why some people feel this way. However, it's time to bury this myth. Some people are naturally quieter than others. They may not feel at ease in large groups; and because of nerves, some would rather stick to themselves than get caught in an awkward situation. Give them a break. If you're the outgoing person in the office, take the initiative and get to know these workers.
4. Quiet People Aren't Good Leaders
Bottom line -- being quiet is a personality trait, not a reflection of skills or ability. These workers have the same skills, experience and education as many of their outgoing counterparts. Remember, an introvert or quiet personality doesn't necessarily mean that the worker is shy.
He may "choose" not to say much, but this doesn't mean that he's afraid to open his mouth or take the lead.
What is your opinion of quiet workers? And if you're the quiet one in the office, how do you cope with negative assumptions?
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