For the purposes of this blog post I decided to take two online tests to determine once and for all whether I was an introvert or an extrovert. Not surprisingly, I am what is called an ambivert, meaning I am both introverted and extroverted. Or neither, depending on how you want to look at it. Essentially, an ambivert displays the traits of both and the way in which an ambivert is currently behaving is completely situational. I can, without much fear, get on stage and perform in front of a group of people I don’t know. But meeting new people? No thanks. I strongly dislike taking my kids to team sports and Cub Scouts where I know I am going to have to interact with people I don’t know. Kid birthday parties? Forget about it. I mean, I go to all these things but they are normally the hardest parts of my day and the source of my highest anxiety.
Five Day Discipline: Introduce myself to someone each day.
My rule for myself was that if a co-worker introduced me to someone that I wasn’t counting that. It wasn’t enough to meet someone new. I had to do the work and get out of my comfort zone and do the actual introducing.
Day 1: Robert. I met Robert in the break room and as soon as I introduced myself he was off to the races. I found out a lot about where he came from and his work background, etc. I really like people like this because conversations with them don’t feel like work. All you have to do is listen. I’ll see him most weekdays so I am glad to have made the connection.
Day 2: Tina. Tina was holding the door open for me on Tuesday (who says chivalry is dead?) and I took that opportunity to thank her and introduce myself. Because of a “welcome the new guy” email she knew that I have four kids and she too has four kids. Having that in common made a conversation with her really easy. She sits in my department so I’ll be seeing her often. In fact, I would up sitting by her during lunch in the break room on Friday.
Day 3: Jessica. This one wasn’t so easy. I walked right up to her desk and said, “Hi, I’m Daniel.” I didn’t have a good lead-in or excuse and I think she was wondering why I was there at all. I chose her because she is very much “with child” and I thought the fact that I have four kids would sort of ease her why-is-this-man-I-don’t-know-trying-to-talk-to-me apprehensions. I was wrong. Or maybe she was just busy. Or maybe she is extremely introverted. Whatever her reasons, her responses to my questions made it pretty clear to me that the sooner I left the better. So I left as quickly as possible. Can’t win them all.
Day 4: Antonio. He is part of the cleaning crew at my building so one day when I walked into the bathroom I saw him cleaning the sinks and introduced myself to him. It turns out that he speaks Spanish and very little English which is great for me. I’ve been learning Spanish and looking for people to practice with and Antonio said I could practice with him. Since meeting each other we’ve already had two short conversations in Spanish. I’m really excited about this connection.
Day 5: Zanetta. Many people at my company are allowed to work remotely a few days a week and most of them choose to do so on Fridays. So my office was a ghost town. I was looking around for people I didn’t already know but I wasn’t having any luck. Finally, around 3:30pm with the day winding down I decided to just start wandering the building. Eventually I happened upon a lady who had a candy jar sitting out. One thing I know about the corporate world is that people who set out candy are usually super nice. I asked her if she minded if I had some candy (“of course you can”) and then introduced myself. I doubt I will see much of her because her desk is quite far away from mine and we are in different departments but hey, I completed my Five Day Discipline and I got some candy (KitKat, if you’re the curious type) out of it.
So, what is the point? What did I learn? Why have you spent your precious time reading this blog post? When I started this week I was both scared and excited. Scared because I don’t like introducing myself and excited because I knew that I would meet some nice people. And while not every introduction was comfortable I now know five new people at my office, one who will be a great Spanish resource for me. It wasn’t always easy to introduce myself but in the end it was well worth it. You never know what sort of connection you might make with a simple, “hello, my name is…” Maybe now I won’t be so afraid to take my kids to their friend’s birthday parties. Maybe.