Do you have to Drink, Schmooze or Talk Sports to Develop Relationships?

Bars with Bosses

Introverts are often faced with internal conflicts when it comes to developing relationships with their coworkers, which often cause them to feel they are compromising their values. It feels like a real dilemma, because to some degree it would be fun to occasionally be included with a group from work for some after-hours bonding.

The dilemma causes most Introverts to be seriously grumpy.

Is this you?

I totally know how you feel — I’ve faced the same issues. I don’t drink and I seriously dislike listening to sports, much less talk about sports. (am I the only one who uses sports news as my benchmark at night to turn off the TV?). Schmoozing I can do but prefer more substantial interactions. Here’s what I have discovered:

 

Drinking With Coworkers

If drinking wine or any alcohol isn’t what you do, you don’t need to start now just to spend time with your co-workers. On the other hand, you don’t need to miss every after-work gathering just because they’re drinking and you aren’t. You’re missing out on an opportunity to simply spend time getting to know others better and in a different setting. The important part of the activity is the socializing, not the drinking — and when you don’t join in, you’re choosing to stay an outsider.

 

Too Much

Sure, some people can get intense about how much they drink and how long they stay at some of these functions. You need to have your own boundaries clearly established. It doesn’t matter if someone is drinking or not, you don’t need to hang out with people who get out of control for any reason. It also doesn’t mean that once you join an event, you have to stay there until the bitter end. (Like this thought? Tweet it!) As an introvert, it may be tough to simply go and be around so many people, but prepare yourself in advance by deciding how long you will participate, before you even get there. Keep in mind that reinforcing relationships is more about quality, not quantity.

 

Attitude

One of the things I’ve witnessed with other Introverts in these situations is a bad attitude. The common attitude is “I shouldn’t have to drink with the boss (or _______) just to get ahead at work.” True, you shouldn’t have to — but you’re also missing the point.

The point is not the drinking (or watching sports or whatever you don’t like to do) – it’s about developing the relationship. If you fail to develop relationships with your coworkers, you’re failing yourself and career. While you can develop your relationship during work hours, you have to understand that for some people, that doesn’t work. Others need to spend time in non-work situations to be comfortable and relaxed enough to get the most out of it. We don’t all do the same things the same way, including nurturing relationships.

 

Suggest Alternatives

Take it upon yourself to suggest something you’d prefer doing after work. You can even take an informal poll to find out other things your coworkers would like. They may range from bowling to dining, or even hitting a coffee shop. Keep in mind that just like with going to a bar, not everyone will join in anyway. The main thing is that you are taking some leadership on relationship development.

 

It’s All About Relationships

If you oppose the idea of developing relationships with your coworkers, you’re putting your career in peril. Studies show that 80% of what will factor into your career success is how well you interact with the people you work with. That’s too huge to ignore.

Your next career opportunity, job, promotion, cool project or resource will only come with or through another person. Keep that in mind the next time the group at work wants to do something. It’s time to join in and get to know them on a different level — for your career, if nothing else.

What’s been your least favorite way to socialize with colleagues, and how do you handle it? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Image: Flickr

Brought to you by Dorothy Tannahill-Moran – dedicated to unleash your professional potential.

About Dorothy

Dorothy Tannahill-Moran is the Introvert Whisperer, Career & Leadership, speaker and author.

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