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I am a female programmer who is an introvert. My lead is a male who is an extrovert. We are a team of two and we both started in this company at the same time couple of months back and my lead is new to the leadership role. Also we are in almost same age group, late twenties.

We have several conflicts since the beginning but I didn't express myself because my lead is new to his role thinking I should have some patience, hoping things will get better soon. I feel

  • Things are not communicated well to me
  • I'm not allowed to work independent and he is imposing
  • I'm pushed down or made to feel inferior
  • I'm not getting enough support from him and he shows frustration
  • My opinion is not even asked for making decisions
  • He don't care much about the team and he is much into getting his things done.

I think part of the reason for the issue is he is new to leadership and other part is because of the personality differences we have(introvert and extrovert)

He somehow sensed that I'm not happy and he said he will make things better. He started to take some steps towards that and we both started to take honest steps to build relationship though we haven't open up yet.

After that, I reached my saturation point twice in two different incidents and exploded. Now he is frustrated and freaking out what the hell went wrong but he is bit hesitant to ask directly. We had social drinks in the office recently and looks like he tried to talk to me and he asked me to grab a drink but being an introvert, I was overwhelmed by the people around and said no thanks. I really feel bad about this and this might have sound rude to him.

He is a good person and do respect him a lot. Though we both have good intentions somehow it is not conveyed properly. I have spoken to my lead's boss and he assured he will help us.

so, now

  1. Shall I behave normal and wait for my lead's boss to address the issue or
  2. Shall I apologize for being rude during drinks to my boss, discuss the concerns I have and say directly that I'm an introvert, things work different for me, it takes time to warm up, get comfortable and open up or
  3. Both of the points above?
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    Sounds like you are using "being an introvert" as a crutch. Your personality type should not find you incapable of proper interaction with someone. – Trotski94 Feb 28 '17 at 8:40
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    Exactly. Do not use "introvert" as an excuse to not talk to him. I think you should 1. stop using the word introvert, and 2. address the issues in the second paragraph to your lead in a neutral way. – Alic Mar 1 '17 at 20:27
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A big thought I have for introverts is - pick your ground.

Introvert doesn't mean "can't communicate well", or "doesn't like communicating" - it means that the way you experience the world and the way you draw energy and summon your thoughts is different from extroverts in that heavy loads of communication effort are draining and it's good to have alone-think-time before responding.

Worse - extroverts aren't very sensitive to this - because they experience the world in the opposite way - talking helps them think, crowded situations may be considered "fun" or "exciting" and not "exhausting".

For all people:

  • backing up and developing a 1 on 1 relationship is useful
  • trust is important for improving communication
  • food or other forms of sharing can be a way of easing tension
  • expressing what's bugging you before you before you explode is important for both professional credibility and building trust
  • no one should have to apologize for valid ways of working (ie, being an introvert) but if you crossed a line and behaved poorly, apologies for behavior are good form.

To that end, I wouldn't wait for someone to come fix this for you - take charge of your own professional relationships, but in a way that suits you. Do apologize if you've exploded or done other things you would not have appreciated in reverse.

Then pick your ground - you guys need to build trust and talk more (not less). The idea of a drink wasn't crazy, but it was a poor choice for you. Offer to meet for coffee or tea in a quiet place (inside or outside the office). Or an ice cream. Or a walk outside (I do this with a coworker myself in a similar situation, and we love getting more steps on our fitbits. :) ). Pick an environment that works for you.

Also - when you need to give him feedback, or deal with feedback he's given you - give yourself the time to consider how you want to present or respond to the current situation. Accomodate his needs as an extrovert by meeting him halfway - don't send him a low fidelity response (like an email) - get time to meet face to face. It's totally OK to say "Thanks for the feedback. Let me take some time to think of how to respond and get back to you tomorrow". Or "I was thinking about our interaction yesterday, and my concerns are..."

17

Honestly, it doesn't sound like you have much of a conflict with your boss. From the description you gave here it sounds like he tries to accommodate you and tried resolving the problem, even though you explicitly state that you "didn't express" yourself.

This is the problem. The fact that you are an introvert shouldn't effect this (although it might, but you need to work on this). If you have a professional reason to disagree with your boss you have to find a way to raise your concern. People are not mind-readers (even if they are extroverts) and will not be able to figure out what your problem is.

You might think that you gave enough subtle clues so that your frustration should be obvious to anyone. They are not. People in general are terrible at getting clues. You have to explicitly state your concerns. The professional way to do this is to schedule a meeting and to speak up very specifically what is bothering you and what a solution could be that works for you. Your boss might have different opinion about the solution and you might have to reach an agreement on this.

Also, in this discussion you should avoid to generalize your statements such as "Things are not communicated well to me". Instead, you should focus on points were you experienced this, e.g. "Last Wednesday client X called with new information, which you did not pass on to me, so I had to redo all the work after I heard about the new information.".

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    +1 About subtle clues. I'm extremely dense so unless someone told me things straight up, I would never pick up on any clues. So if there is something you wish to change, ALWAYS tell them straight up instead of dropping clues. It's much simpler that way. – Migz Feb 27 '17 at 7:00
  • @Migz It's not only simpler, making cues and expecting something to happen only leads to frustration. If you're lucky somebody might notice (and care) that you're making a grumpy face, but it's a professional world out there - communicate, communicate, communicate. I hate writing emails, and responding to calls - but if I don't the only thing which will happen is my firing. – SBoss Feb 28 '17 at 9:36
2

It sounds a bit to me, as if its possible you aren't confident in communicating, or habitually defer more than is useful and appropriate here. +1 to the comments about subtle hints.

As a thought experiment, I wonder, if we asked him, whether by chance his matching views might be:

  • Things are not communicated well to me

  • She doesnt seem to take the initiative then gets upset when I check work is going ok or tell her how I see it

  • Shes quieter than I am, and I have to take the lead more than I otherwise might with someone who was more outward minded

  • I'm not getting enough heads up when support is needed and when I try, its taken badly as if Im taking over or pushy.

  • Hard work to get opinions so I tend to just give mine

  • She seems to expect me to do part of her work when Im trying to do mine without full input I hoped for, doesnt seem to appreciate how much rides on this, career-wise.

I say this not to say that's how it is, but to show how easily miscommunication can happen, and how a problem can be due to both people not understanding or discussing matters well. The solution - appreciate it may need you to be more direct and to act as you would wish a leader to act, in opening this up - for both of your benefits.

One specific other point: If your thinking processes need more time (so that he gets a pause and he always leaps in to fill the gap), then its worth saying explicitly that you would like to come back to him on things, and the fact you take a little longer to think things through doesn't mean you want him to always put forward his ideas first in the meantime. Maybe tell him directly "I'm an introvert and its harder to discuss things that need discussing, a bar or office party wont work for me, I need quiet spaces away from crowds to chat." Tell him what you need, rather than bottling it up. Generally better.

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After that, I reached my saturation point twice in two different incidents and exploded.

In addition to @dirkk's excellent answer, I would add that "exploding" is very unprofessional and not at all appropriate for the workplace. You must absolutely work on not exploding. After all, the things you are fussing about sound like efficiency concerns which is fine but ultimately should not be such a huge personal issue for the individual employee - after all, you are paid basically regardless of the overall project efficient which cannot even be measured easily.

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    Downvoters, care to comment? – DepressedDaniel Feb 27 '17 at 2:59
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    Didnt downvote but, your answer isn't really an answer. Probably would be better suited as a comment. – Prodnegel Feb 27 '17 at 15:52

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