People may be introverts and extroverts. They have different likes, dislikes, and preferences. If you wish to plan a celebration for your introverted coworker, then you may choose a small restaurant or have a small gathering, or create a video, or have a virtual party for a short duration. Here are more ideas and things you need to know to understand your introverted coworker. ~ Ed.
Although introverts generally loathe being the center of attention, it doesn’t mean we want to be invisible. The modern office architecture seems to cater to extroverts: broken-down walls, no quiet space to energize, and the abundance of meetings and communicable brainstorming. It’s easy to get lost in all of that, especially when that type of workflow makes no sense to you.
Some teammates just need more time alone and planning a party for us introverts can feel like a challenge at first. While there isn’t a cheat for how each team member would prefer to be celebrated, we can gather some cues on what they may want based on their personality.
Introverts gain energy by spending time alone, but we still want to be social in smaller doses. When preparing a goodbye party for a coworker, you need to think about what they need and what makes them comfortable. As you plan the event, think about the following.
A fast-paced work environment can stress us out. Not only are we expected to come up with fully coherent ideas quickly, but we also have to work our way up to saying them. Shyness often coincides with being an introvert, especially in large groups like in a meeting workplace.
We process things quickly but need a moment to prepare, which is why being the center of attention is terrifying for us. Therefore, a smaller event at a restaurant and NOT calling over the waitress to sing happy birthday would be less stressful than a place we’ll be ogled at.
Forcing interaction with us will not yield the best results, and it may even make us come off as rude. We’re not trying to mean or unaccommodating when we say we have preferred methods of communication, like texting and emailing.
If we have to talk on the phone, we will, but in-person communication with video is preferred if we have to use our voice. In-person, we can respond to each other’s body language, so you know if we’re thinking or nervous.
Introverts spend more time alone, but we’re by no means anti-social. Most of us aren’t even socially awkward or dislike people. If we’re in an engaging social situation, we’ll hang out every time, but we might need to leave early or need to wait longer before being social again. Being around people can even take more effort.
Surprise parties may not work, as they may not want to arrive. Plan the party in the morning, on the weekend, and in a place without a lot of foot traffic. Zoom parties are less stressful for us because we don’t have to plan the commute. Keep the party for less than 2 hours.
Are you planning for someone who you see as a strong leader? They may still be introverted. It’s a myth that introverts can’t raise their voice or be assertive; we’re just usually calmer.
Ask how your project leader spends their time because introverted people typically have solo hobbies. Writing, painting, gaming, hiking, and collecting are hobbies they may have.
You can’t paint introverts with the same broad brush because we’re all different in our own way. Introversion, like extroversion, is on a sliding scale, and some of us can handle more than others. In fact, many introverts have developed skills to adapt to an open environment and won’t feel as drained after a day or week of constant interaction.
Always ask your coworker about their preferences. One easy way to do this without drawing suspicion is by asking them what they like to do with their friends or family on days off.
Don’t take it personally, but sometimes we just prefer to spend time at home. We’re also not fond of being asked if we’re having a good time or “why we’re so quiet,” which puts more pressure on us. We want to be around our work friends, just in a way that’s comfortable.
Us introverts find parties exhausting as a general rule. Large social functions with too much noise and unnecessary chatter can be frustrating for us. However, we don’t avoid parties altogether, as long as they’re planned with us in mind. Using the information above, you can probably see why the following party ideas would work for us and other invited introverts.
Let’s take a look at how a party planner could set up a virtual, in-person, or a no-party party.
For most of us introverts, a virtual party is more our style. If you want to plan a great virtual party, use the following tips. Note: these tips could work for in-person parties, too!
Plan ahead for the meeting, but not too far ahead, as introverts may not go. The party planners should cover the basics, like who to invite (the smaller, the better), Zoom backgrounds, activities, gift options, and the time for the event. If it’s Saturday morning, ask the guest of honor if they’re busy the night or the day before, so they have less time to stress about the event.
Keep the Event Short
Reserve the party for 30 minutes, but keep the floor open for 2 hours. This way, if you notice attention waning or the conversation is becoming awkward or forced, you can cut it whenever you like. If everyone is enjoying themselves, keep the party going for longer.
Set the Tone
Before the party, make sure everyone is in a positive mood. For example, you could build excitement by asking party-goers to eat their own snacks or share gifs in a Slack channel while also pumping everyone up by being excited yourself. Ask the attendees to focus on the person’s accomplishments and celebrate the good times instead of thinking about them leaving.
There are plenty of games you can play on Zoom to keep the party’s momentum in high gear. Scattergories, Codenames, Online Bingo and Quiz Up are just a few easy-to-learn games that will be accessible to everyone. Introverts tend to enjoy board games or trivia, especially when they don’t involve too much movement (think: charades).
Present a slideshow that everyone can see about the funny moments or memories spent in the office. Avoid using personalized videos (unless you’re giving them the file in private), as that could be embarrassing for an introvert. With group photos, you can all enjoy the shared experiences you had instead of the focus being solely on the guest of honor.
An in-person party is still 100% possible with an introvert, especially if they want to celebrate away from the office. Now that we’ve established that introverts prefer smaller, morning get-togethers with little advance notice, one of the following small-party ideas would be fun!
- Movie Party: No talking? Yes, please! For this party to work, ask the introvert which types of films they enjoy or what they want to see in theaters, and tell the attendees to file in at separate times. Meeting a big group all at once will be overwhelming.
- Painting or Coloring Party: Set up a room where everyone is encouraged to sit down, drink and strike up a conversation every now and then.
- Board Games or Trivia Party: We’re good at trivia and board games, as we spend a lot of time on solo hobbies we enjoy. You’ll see us come alive when playing games.
- Small Restaurant: A local 10-table restaurant in the day won’t be too busy, but not so quiet that we’ll feel awkward talking. It’s the perfect environment for a good time.
- Tea or Coffee: A farewell party could use some coffee and conversation in a comfortable environment. Some coffee shops have private areas for meetings, which would be perfect for introverts. Turn the event into a pot-luck for more variety.
Before the event, share every idea about where we’re going to meet up (map included), where to check-in, and other relevant information. Nothing stresses us out more than thinking we’re in the wrong place, standing around awkwardly, or asking the wrong questions to the coordinators.
If you suggested to your coworkers that you were thinking of planning a party for them and they look uncomfortable or simply say “no,” don’t plan a party. It’s disrespectful to ignore their wishes. We understand that you want closure, and we’re grateful that we’ll be missed. Sometimes a party is too much, but we can both find closure by doing the following.
- Organize a large card: Have everyone in the office sign it and place it on our desk.
- Create a memory jar: Write positive memories or notes and put them in a jar.
- Create a video: Film the office saying bye to them instead of an in-person farewell.
- Say your goodbyes one on one: It’s less pressure, and it shows you care.
- Give gifts periodically: Over the last week, place gifts on their desk.
Being discrete will take the pressure off of your coworkers, who are already sad they’re leaving. Introverts want to say goodbye to you, and they want to leave on good terms, but they also want to feel respected. Trust us, we’ll miss you terribly, but we need to handle these emotions in our own time, preferably in private or with a person we trust, in a comfortable environment.
Over to you
What are your thoughts on how to celebrate your introverted coworker? Share them in the comments section.