By April 3, 2012 Read More →

An introvert home worker’s guide to surviving a day event

How a home worker can make the most of workshops and conferences

Introversion extroversion home workingA and I spent three days over the weekend at a conference in London. There were about 200 people attending and the days were long – 9 am to 6 pm. I didn’t attend all the sessions as I’m still recovering from a nasty virus, but the experience reminded me of how draining such events can be for a home worker with a tendency to introversion.

Introverts get their energy by going within and reflecting, whereas extroverts gain energy by being with people and expressing their thoughts outwardly. This means that while extroverts thrive on long days in the constant company of others, introverts find them at best tiring and at worst draining and debilitating.

So here are my tips if you are an introvert, or maybe just a home worker not used to spending hours with other people!

  • An introvert is more comfortable with one-to-one conversations than group interaction, so introduce yourself immediately to someone you like the look of. Don’t feel you have to come up with brilliant conversation – just a comment about the coffee or how far you’ve travelled will start you off.

    The recipient will most likely respond with relief that someone is making the effort to speak to them. Even those who look the most confident and well-turned out are often nervous about attending these events. If they don’t seem interested, don’t take it personally, just move on to someone else as soon as you can.

  • As a home worker you’re used to spending a lot of time alone, so give yourself permission to leave the group during breaks. My worst dread used to be the workshop leader who brightly instructed everyone to go to lunch with someone they didn’t know. I would come back with a thumping headache and clockwatch all afternoon.

    Mobile phones now provide the perfect excuse of needing to check messages and emails, and in an urban environment I often give shopping as a reason for heading off alone. Even if I don’t need to buy anything, a solitary window-shop is a refreshing break and allows me to return to the group with a genuine smile.

  • Make sure you have a quiet evening planned so you can absorb and reflect on what you’ve learned and the people you’ve met. Introverts like to process everything they’ve experienced and I certainly find that if I don’t have the time to do that, it becomes almost physically painful!

You may also like my previous posts on introversion and extroversion, and Susan Cain’s TED talk The Power of Introverts.

Posted in: Health

10 Comments on "An introvert home worker’s guide to surviving a day event"

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  1. Nothing new to add, just to agree….this all makes perfect sense.
    Thank goodness I can get through life choosing to avoid such events on the whole. Gosh I feel your headache Judy, I get one just thinking about it.

    • Judy says:

      Lots of people do get a headache thinking about it! It’s one of many examples of how business tends to be set up for extroverts, or people who are ‘out there’ all the time. But the quiet ones are making themselves heard, as the next comment mentions.

  2. Wednesday Teatime says:

    Good points and I know from my own experiences, even when I wasn’t working on my own as a freelancer, that allowing yourself to take time out from events like that is really important. I used to feel I had to get my money’s worth or something … And usually taking some time out on your own gives you more energy, especially for afternoon sessions! By the way, have you seen/heard Susan Cain on the power of introverts? There’s a video on TED.com

    • Judy says:

      I understand that pressure to get maximum value, Jane – and there’s also the one to network during all the break times. But I agree it’s better to pace yourself to avoid peaking too soon!
      Yes, I’ve been following the recent discussions about introverts in the workplace with great interest and I’m very glad someone is pointing out our strong points when we’ve been made to feel inadequate for so long!

  3. Elena Anne says:

    Thanks for posting this, Judy. This was enlightening as I have a couple of friends who are introverts. Its extremely true that staying with large, sometimes loud, groups can really over extend their stamina for social events. This is great advice, and I will pass it along!

  4. Thanks for posting this, Judy – it’s really good to be reminded that it’s ok to be an introvert and to honour our own needs.

    Now off to watch the Ted talk 🙂

    • Glad you liked it, Linda. It can seem to an introvert that the business world is geared up to extroverts and doesn’t value any other ways of being.
      You might also like this more recent post on a similar theme – Do you dread networking? No coincidence that we are both regulars at Corrina’s meet-ups!

  5. Just read the post referenced above, Judy, and I couldn’t agree with you more – finding the right group to interact with is so important. I love the way you describe it as ‘meeting kindred spirits’. That’s exactly the feeling I get when visiting Corrina’s and a couple of other awesome groups I’ve found in central London. It’s just like coming home – and a huge relief for someone who was put off networking for literally years, as a result of going to the ‘wrong’ groups (as in ‘wrong’ for me I mean, not that they weren’t great groups too for the right peeps).

    Some of the issue for people can also be emotional blocks from childhood experiences – people who were moved around a lot as a child, for example, will rarely find networking an easy experience, because it reminds them at subconscious levels of how uncomfortable/exposed/vulnerable they felt back then. Helping people clear out that old stuff is one of my passions and I believe I’ve even been known to blog about it 🙂

    Thanks again for sharing some really useful content.

    • Interesting point about childhood, Linda. I’ve found that the leaders of networking groups are surprisingly often very bad at welcoming new people, introducing them and making them feel at home. I wonder whether this is also old stuff from school days, when there’s a tendency to want to be in the ‘in’ crowd and to be suspicious of newcomers. Fascinating!

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