I Don’t Want to Go to the Potluck – Working with People Who Are More Reserved

 In Better Life, Relationships

I had the pleasure of speaking at a conference this past week where I shared my program on understanding and appreciating our differences for improved communication, collaboration, and connection. A very valuable insight came out of some of the discussion that I really appreciated.

We were talking about different ways coworkers could get to know each other and better understand what shapes their perspectives. A suggestion was to have potlucks and other company gatherings. One person complained that not everyone would come. One person in the room commented that she would be one of those people because she would NOT enjoy such an event. She shared that she is quiet and reserved and gets stressed around groups of people. I’m a bit of an introvert and can relate to how she feels at times.

I’ve also seen how some people who are more reserved can be labeled as stuck-up or not a team player. We may see this person as being negative because of the way we interpret their behavior. And our culture and our work environments tend to value those people who are more outgoing and assertive. As Susan Cain, the author of “Quiet” notes,

Many people believe that introversion is about being antisocial, and that’s really a misperception. Because actually, it’s just that introverts are differently social. So they would prefer to have a glass of wine with a close friend as opposed to going to a loud party full of strangers.”

As part of my training with Everything DiSC® personal styles, I’ve learned some important insights about these differences in preferences and styles:

  • One personality style is not better than another, although we may tend to think ours is the best. Each one is valuable with its own strengths and challenges.
  • Understanding our own personality can give us insights into how others perceive us.
  • Knowing someone else’s personality can give us a deeper understanding of their preferences and perspective (like wanting to avoid company gatherings).
  • Once we know their style, we can then adapt our behavior to better connect and communicate with them, making our interactions easier (like having a one-on-one conversation with someone who’s quieter).

I believe if we could understand and appreciate other people’s personalities, we would have more peace and harmony in our relationships, our work, and even in the world.

Think of someone in your life who has different preferences than you because they have a different style. Maybe it’s that person who is more reserved or who is more outgoing than you. How might your interactions and attitude change if you were more understanding of their differences, remembering that it’s just part of their personality?

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