It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.
“It’s one thing to associate with a group in which each member works autonomously on his piece of the puzzle; it’s another to be corralled into endless meetings or conference calls conducted in offices that afford no respite from the noise and gaze of co-workers. Studies show that open-plan offices make workers hostile, insecure and distracted. They’re also more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, stress, the flu and exhaustion. And people whose work is interrupted make 50 percent more mistakes and take twice as long to finish it..” (“The Rise of the New Groupthink” ; New York Times 1/13/2012)
I consider myself an extrovert. I feel energized and happy after a night out with a group of friends. But I definitely have some introverted tendencies, and one of those is my general desire to work alone.
In college, when teachers would assign group projects? Ugh. Kill me. I couldn’t stand those meetings that always seemed to go twice as long as they should. It drove me crazy when I had to trust someone else to execute his part of the assignment. I wanted to be responsible for my own grade, and I wanted to do my work on my own schedule. I’m someone who thrives on deadlines, which means I’m often hunched over a computer at 11 pm, and that’s when I do my best work.
I feel the same way about office meetings. Anyone who worked with me at my last job can attest to how much I couldn’t stand department pow-wows. We’d sit around a giant conference room, each person explaining what she was working on, and I would start to get the jitters 45 minutes in. Always. I was the girl that pushed her chair back, away from the table, in hopes of signaling to the group: “It’s time to leave!” I love talking about TV more than anyone, but the post-meeting linger to exchange Lost theories just made me want to tear my hair out.
Clearly, I believe in socializing. And I am a huge-time proponent of work BFFs. Having best pals at work makes an employee exponentially more satisfied in her job, and a more satisfied worker is a more productive worker. But when it comes to the forced socialization of group projects and big meetings, it’s not my style. I’d rather giggle with my work bestie behind the closed doors of an office (or in my old case, the high walls of my cube) for five minutes than spend an hour in a meeting. And those meetings and group time largely ate into actual work time, suddenly forcing people to stay after-hours if they actually wanted to get anything done.
Susan Cain, who wrote this New York Times article, is the author of the new book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. I’m looking forward to reading it, because as someone who is constantly pushing socializing over sitting on the couch, I want to know the cases where solitude wins. For me, the office, at least when one is trying to be productive, is one of those places. (PSA: Reminder that being an introvert doesn’t mean you never need to socialize or interact with other humans. It means you get your energy from within, rather than from others, and that your socializing might be better in the form of one or two people rather than a big group. Clearly, I’m an office introvert.)
Are you an office introvert? Or do you enjoy what Susan Cain calls “The New Groupthink”?
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