Introvert Life

Small Talk: A Workplace Curse

The funny thing about my anxiety is that if there is chaos around me, I can act without overthinking or being afraid of the outcome. All focus is on a specific situation, I do not have a chance to think about myself. Decisions need to happen now or something can go awry.

However, on those days where the office is quiet and people are milling about, I found I have difficulty functioning. My colleagues want to make small talk about their new furniture or their children. I do not want to fake a smile, I do not want to talk, I just want to mind my own business and be alone. Unfortunately, this seems to be unnatural to my coworkers; they find my quietness alarming.

My natural state of being is quiet and sequestered, I like it like that.  This developed from years of social anxiety, now it is just my way of life. I try to explain that in simple terms, but it ends up prompting more questions. I, personally, think it is pretty self-explanatory. Then before I know it, I am engaged in a conversation I did not want to have in the first place.

I did notice that if I engage in a little small talk, that satisfies my workplace socializing quota. But people are becoming insatiable! I have been trapped in the break room or the bathroom more times than I would like. Why do we have to go past a slight nod and a smile? Yes, weather happens every day. Yep, traffic sure is bad. No, I do not know who puts the flyers up.  Why are we talking about this? I acknowledged your presence, is that not good enough?

I recognize that I am the one with the problems, not everyone else. I do not trust my own social skills and talking is incredibly exhausting. I am really bad at carrying on a conversation and I feel like I am doing us both a favor by letting your topic of choice die a slow, wordless death.

Now, please excuse me as I speed-walk to my office or tip-toe past you to use the fax machine.



Categories: Introvert Life

9 replies »

  1. That’s quite odd, ordinarily I find that colleagues respect a persons wish for solitude. It might be fun to nod without looking and see if they bother to continue to making small talk because in a way you won’t have actually done anything wrong but you won’t have given them any signs to continue either. 🤓

    Liked by 1 person

    • Once upon a time, that was totally true. People I worked with used to think I hated them; hey, the work was done! Maybe it’s technology where people are unable to read social cues or perhaps they feel entitled to your life. Regardless of your need for privacy or space they feel they can happily encroach.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Working from home, the dream😍. I find the rare occasions I am able to work from home, someone’s spends hours cutting the grass or the city is doing construction. If I feel like I need to awkwardly talk to someone, I’ll go to the supermarket.


  2. like you, external chaos can sometimes quell my anxiety. often, if it’s acting up, i will intentionally, subconsciously create chaos. when i’m agitated it’s time to reorganize the storeroom, rip apart my closet, tidy up the garage. the external chaos distracts me from my mind. also like you, i need significant quiet and alone time and i find that often, people don’t “get” that and feel like they need to engage me or drag me out. yes, it’s my issue but sometimes i wish people would listen when you say to them “no, nothing is wrong, i just need some down time.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree *sigh*. It’s actually disheartening that there are so many people that do not respect this or think it’s a joke. People think just because you can hold a job, that must mean nothing is wrong. Keeping it together day after day is mentally and physically exhausting. Alone time is precious and is important as fresh air. Any reprieve, big or small, is a godsend.

      Liked by 1 person

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