This article was written by G. John Cole.
Whether you’re the kind of person who loves facing the challenge of a new job, or you prefer that moment a bit later on when you’ve finally settled into a routine, being an introvert means your first day is likely to be more of a challenge than it is to most people.
Added to the regular fears that everyone has about not being good enough, not getting on with your colleagues, or just having to work a lot harder than you’re comfortable with, come all the worries associated with your introverted nature.
How can you get to know people properly without having to deal with the superficial fluff with which work relationships usually begin? What happens if you’re asked a question in front of a big group and you don’t have the answer to hand? Where can you hide when you just need a bit of space?
The simple answer to these worries is: preparation.
Set yourself some rules and principles and some tricks and techniques. Research everything thoroughly before you show up. This way you are less likely to find yourself flailing around for comfort and security.
You will find it far easier to take things in your own time when you have a clearer idea of what is involved.
Begin by researching the company beyond the initial scoping you did when you applied for the job. Learn as much context as you can about the industry, your boss’s reason for being in business and the goals and ideals by which the company is guided. This context can give you valuable solid ground from which to work when you’re put on the spot for an answer or an idea.
Go over your job description in advance.
Try to figure out exactly what each bullet point might mean for you.
Coming up with some questions to ask in your induction meeting will kill two birds with one stone: you get further clarification on what’s expected of you, and you can fill any awkward silences with more useful questions!
You might also contact your line manager ahead of your first day to ask if there’s anything you can do to prepare.
For example, maybe you are to be immediately put on a project and you can research the topic before you start. Or perhaps there is an important meeting on your first day for which receiving the agenda will give you a good head-start.
Indeed, an overall schedule for your first day can be very reassuring, if they have time to send it to you in advance.
You can start to think about your own plans for the day.
For example, if you arrive in the area 45 minutes before you start, you leave yourself a spare half an hour to sit in a café and get your thoughts and emotions in order. Figure out where you might grab lunch, too, and then you have a ready-made excuse if you’re invited to a big group lunch for which you don’t yet feel ready.
Likewise, decide in advance if you are up for going for after-work drinks if offered. It might not happen, but it can be less disconcerting to be faced with such an invite if you’ve already considered that eventuality.
Don’t be afraid of being honest.
Unfortunately, introverts are often misunderstood.
People think you’re shy, anti-social or snobbish, when really you’re just uncomfortable or need a bit more time to settle in.
Let your colleagues know why you sometimes need longer to respond to things or why you won’t always join in with social stuff. You’re not committed to anything, but relationships can grow more smoothly if people know what you’re about.
So before that big day, work through this list of techniques for introverts, go at your own pace, and enjoy things. You’re in this for the long haul!