So, you just bit the bullet and joined a coworking space. For some, a new work environment can often feel like the first day of school, nerve-wracking and full of anxiety. If you feel like that, you may just be an introvert, and if you are, then you are in luck because there are simple things you can do to not only survive in a coworking space, but thrive in one.
The first step is to accept that you’re an introvert and know that it’s okay. Contrary to popular belief, introverts don’t like being alone so much as they just need time alone to recharge after social interaction. Introverts are often great communicators in the right circumstances and when given the chance.
Fortunately, there are simple ways to break the ice, so to speak, in a new coworking environment:
The next time you’re at work, take a look around and familiarize yourself with the workers around you. Odds are, there are several introverts around the room. Take the time to start approaching people one at a time, striking up easy and manageable small talk. Getting to know people, even just pieces at a time will allow you to feel more relaxed around them and in the new environment.
Most introverts are not fans of small talk but take part in it when you can. As an introvert, you can turn the conversation into something more meaningful, even creating a connection out of it. Each day, challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone in a small way. Move to a new seat, talk to a stranger, and involve yourself in small talk when the opportunity arises.
One of the best ways to communicate effectively is to make people feel good. People prefer likeable people to competent ones...so when talking to someone, try to make them feel good, comfortable, but avoid seeming arrogant.
If striking up conversation is especially difficult but you want to make connections or friends, think about making friends with an extrovert. They will help you to socialize and may even introduce you to a plethora of other people. Being introduced by someone else will also take away some of the pressure of striking up a conversation by yourself.
While working to create a relaxing and uplifting atmosphere at a new coworking space, it may be beneficial to attend events hosted by the facility. Many coworking spaces offer several events, often providing the coworking community with expert advice, workshops, and even fun social events.
Participating in hosted events is a great way to take the pressure off of making new friends and connections at a new job or work environment. Whether a social outing or listening to a speaker at the coworking space after work, everyone is feeling a little better being out of work and may respond better to communication during these events.
These events, though daunting for some, are excellent opportunities for introverts to break the ice with the workers they interact with daily. It is a way to strike up conversation outside of the work bubble, where people can often get caught up in work and stress. Whether striking up a conversation over a beer at a social outing, or discussing a speaker, the common ground is practically handed out during these hosted events. You never know when a simple conversation could turn into more.
For those truly too scared to strike up conversations with a stranger, make use of the community managers. The community managers for the space spend a lot of time getting to know everyone in the coworking space and might just know who in the space you may get along with. The first few connections may not work out, but after making a few connections, it’s going to get easier to make more connections on your own.
Of course, like any introvert there will be times when you have just had enough social interaction. Don’t forget to take time for yourself to recharge and collect your thoughts. Since you’re in a coworking space, sit at your desk and put on some headphones so you can sit quietly for a while and refocus . Many coworking spaces also offer quiet zones designed for this very purpose, so be sure to utilize the tools at your disposal when needed and just relax.
Connect with your community manager and ask for the best places or people to sit by to relax during these times. They know exactly who the quiet ones are in the coworking space and you may just make a connection at the end of it.