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INTROVERT WANTS TO FIT IN

July 16th, 2006 | Posted by josantamaria in Articles - (0 Comments)

This is my first time to work, having graduated in October last year,   I’ve been working as a specialist for the past five months in a good company but I don’t feel a sense of belonging to our section. I like my job but I think the people I work with, my peers, don’t show to me that they welcome me and that they like me. I’m OK in my physical appearance and I speak good English. My boss, a motherly lady, gave me an orientation and introduced me to my peers the first week on the job. Since then she has not taken steps to integrate me into her section. She is very busy attending meetings practically the whole day. Nobody talks to me. I eat alone in the pantry with no one bothering to talk to me.

On Friday evenings, every single man and woman in our department and in our office go out to have fun. I wait for someone to invite me but no one does. I am sad and lonely. I feel ashamed that no one seems to like me.

Ms. Sad and Lonely

 

Obviously you are an introvert and are not disposed to initiate social interactions.  You are uncomfortable and feel isolated being on your own and are waiting for your peers to make the first move so that you can feel welcomed. You want to be befriended but you don’t want to initiate making friends. If you just wait for your peers to come to you or for your boss to put you in touch with others, you are going to continue feeling sad and lonely.  And this will only make you feel miserable. You will also be perceived as a loner. Organizations nowadays value teamwork; they want their employees to coordinate and collaborate with one another and to network within and outside the organization for better quality of work and improved service delivery.

How about taking a proactive, rather than, a reactive stance? This means that you are the one to initiate social interactions with your co-employees.

You can start by changing the following mindsets which I can infer from your email: “People here don’t like”; “No one likes to talk to me”; “I don’t belong”; “I am sad and lonely”, etc. Change these into the following positive affirmations: “People here like me if I make myself likeable”; “I like myself and can make others like me”; “I like my job and my company and I will exert my utmost to remain here”; “I will smile and talk to people so that they can smile at and talk to me, too”.

Set as your daily objective to talk with at least two co-employees from 8 am to 5 pm every work day. You can increase the number of social interactions after a record of success. “Success” here is defined as your ability to meet your daily quota of social interactions which you initiate.

When you see people along the corridor, in the ladies room, in the pantry, etc., establish eye contact and smile at them. To the person who will sit beside you, whether male or female, young or older, initiate conversation with a “What department are you in?”; “How long have you been here?” etc. Listen with interest to the answers to your questions. Answer the questions they also ask of you about you. Do this with every person you sit with over lunch at the pantry. Each time you initiate a conversation, give yourself a “pat on your back”, which means, you smile to yourself, feel good about yourself, and say to yourself “I did it!”

Have a good working relationship with your internal customers. These are your co-employee(s) who need or wait for your output, and your boss to whom you report. To the former you can ask feedback about your work. Then ask “How do you want my work/report improved?”, then paraphrase what they say. To your boss, ask to see her before the workday ends, then ask for feedback and suggestion on how she would want you to improve your work. Share with her what your co-workers suggest, and ask for her agreement.

Use the lunch break to socialize with co employees. Don’t always stay in the pantry since traffic there is fast with fewer seats to accommodate the number who come to eat. Go to the canteen or cafeteria and sit with employees you see in your section or department. Go with your peers who take lunch outside the building. Once you start making friends, you will be invited to go out for those Friday nights out.

You may have an introverted nature but you can overcome your tendencies to behavior by behaving positively. One of the important one-liners that the famous Dale Carnegie has given is: “Like people and people will like you”. Have positive expectations of others and they will behave according to your expectations.

I suggest you also invest in a good book like Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, John Maxwell’s leadership books, Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, among others. Read them, reflect on the concepts and apply these concepts in your dealings with people. I also suggest you read the editorial pages of newspapers, listen to the news over the radio and watch TV for current events so that you will have something to talk about rather than the usual “chikahan”.

God bless you.

 

Josie Santamaria

I’ve become so good in whatever my boss wants me to do and in anticipating his every need— official or personal— that he has become very dependent on me. He refers to me as his “Boy Friday” and his “alter ego”. He takes me with him in all meetings he attends and has given me the freedom even to make decisions for him, so confident is he in my competence and my loyalty to him.

So what’s my problem, you probably ask? My boss, who has been my mentor and father figure, does not show any interest in knowing my own career interest, my dreams and aspirations. He thinks he knows my needs and assumes that working for and under him is what I want.  Once I told him there was an opening in the MIS department in our company since I am an ECE graduate with high honors from a reputable school. He merely brushed aside what I said, and told me “Just stick to me and I’ll take care of you.”

The problem is, while I’m taking care of his needs, he doesn’t take care of my own needs for professional growth and career advancement. He doesn’t see me in any other role but as his executive assistant and his aide. So long as I stay in the company, he wants me to be always by his side. Even other department heads do not see me beyond my current role. Mr. Y, head of our MIS department  told me, when I applied for a vacant position that I liked, “I’m sorry I cannot take you though I know you will be an asset in my department.  Mr. X, your boss and who is my friend and peer, will harbor a grudge against me and I don’t want to destroy my relationship with him.”

I’m now 33 yrs old, married for 5 years and with two young children. If I don’t do something about my career now, it’ll be too late for me to achieve my career goal. What shall I do? Please help me.

Mr. Executive Assistant

 

That you are frustrated and unhappy is very obvious from your letter. You are sure that you want to move out from under your boss wings and flap your own under the clear blue sky but you feel incapable of leaving your boss without feeling guilty and disloyal. He trusts you fully and believes in you but he wants you to stick to and by him. To continue to work with, under and for him, will mean setting aside your career interests and sacrificing your own goals and aspirations. At 33, you have made a decision but you must firmly pursue it.

Allow me to suggest to you the following steps you might consider taking.  The first step is to define your career goal. Like any goal, your career goal must be S (specific), M (measurable), A (attainable), R (relevant) and T (time-bound). From your letter, it seems that your career goal could be stated thus: By end of July 2006, I am occupying the position of (position) in the MIS department of our company. To enable you to achieve this goal requires the following intermediate and immediate goals:

  • Obtain a positive response from your boss to recommend you to the head of the MIS department, and
  • Obtain acceptance of me by the head of the MIS department.

To achieve the above immediate goals requires the following actions:

1.      Make sure there is a vacancy in the MIS department and that you like the nature of the work, and the career path it will lead you to.

2.  Talk to your boss. Before you do this, prepare what you will say to him. I always believe in writing a script of what we will say so that we can choose our words and edit, as needed. This will also give you self-confidence and focus when you talk to him. Let me provide you with this structure in writing your script.

First: Express appreciation and gratitude. “Sir, I deeply appreciate your trust and confidence in me and that you believe in me. I will always be grateful for the way you have mentored me, and for seeing my potentials and developing me to have the knowledge and skills I now have.”

Second: Express your need: “However, Sir, I also want to grow and advance in my career in the ICT profession which is my career choice.  I am already 33 years old and I want to pursue my career interest before age becomes an obstacle to my career change.  What I really like is to work in our MIS department because my career choice is in ICT. This is the reason why I took ECE in college 14 years ago. However Mr. Y, though he sees me as being well qualified and having great potentials, does not  want to get me because he values your  relationship.”

Third: Ask for what you want: “I’m sure you want me to be happy and fulfilled   in the life career I like.   May I ask you to recommend me to him? I will be very        happy if you do…”

3.       Psyche yourself.  Repeat to yourself the following self-affirmation:  “I know what I want and I will get it. God gives me the grace to enable me to express my desire to my boss. My boss will listen to me, sees my need and say “Yes” when I ask him to recommend me to Mr. Y.”   Remove your doubts and fears. Be focused.

4.      Ask for an appointment to see your boss. Since you are the one arranging and making his schedules, you know his free day and time. You also know his “best” time.

5.      Keep the appointment and have someone in the office guard off any distractions such as telephone calls, drop in visitors, etc.

6.      Deliver your script. Sit across the table of your boss and look at hin directly in the eye. Be focused on your goal. Do not allow him to distract you from your goal.  If he does, just listen and steer the conversation back to your goal.

God bless you.

 

Josie Santamaria