I am an engineer in my second job. I also find dealing with people exhausting; I would happily work for days without talking to anyone. Obviously that isn’t possible, so instead I do my best to balance my preferences with the requirements of the workplace.
In my first job, I never had any issues because we had very limited social interactions; I usually had 1-3 meetings a week and people rarely called me or dropped by my cube. My new job is entirely different; we sometimes have 3-4 hours of meetings per day, which frequently run over time, and many, many impromptu calls and meetings. The impromptu calls and meetings are the biggest problem for me. I like to know about meetings in advance so I can mentally prepare for them, and these surprise meetings often come when I am already exhausted and frazzled from sitting through other meetings, so I can’t participate well.
However, it seems like long impromptu discussions are a normal part of engineering. All of my coworkers seem to be perfectly fine with them. I don’t want to be seen as uncooperative or a bad coworker, so I am afraid to refuse them. But then I end up in a meeting when I am angry or exhausted, and several times I have even been noticeably irritated or upset, which is definitely not how I want to behave at work.
- First, are these long impromptu meetings the norm in the engineering workplace? If I ask to postpone or refuse these meetings, will I be seen as abnormal or a bad coworker? Will I get cut out of decision making?
- Secondly, I would love suggestions for dealing with this. So far the strategies which have been suggested to me are having some sort of formal policy of requiring X amount of time before meetings, or postponing impromptu meetings or calls on an as-needed basis when I feel I just can’t handle yet another meeting right now.
Also, please note I am mostly concerned about the reactions of my coworkers to this. My manager is supportive of my asking to schedule impromptu meetings or calls for a later time.