I’ve been in my current position at work for a long time (almost 13 years!), and I’ve had a lot of cow-orkers come and go. Recently I’ve realized that our one-time lunch and coffee groups have almost melted away; I have one regular coffee buddy and I often end up having coffee on my own (though I’ve been trying to cut back on the coffee breaks, too), and I end up having lunch on my own or with one other person with some frequency as well.

So I’ve been mulling over the fact that I don’t often make good friends with people I work with (although I get along with most of them). Which seems strange since you’d like that male computer geeks would be exactly the sort of people I’d become friends with. But then, as an introvert, connecting to other introverts can be hard. Indeed, friends that I have made through work in the past are either extroverts, or fairly high-energy people even if they are introverts.

Last week I had this exchange: I was sitting outside having coffee and reading a book. Two engineers from elsewhere in my department are coming back from another building, and they stop:

Engineer 1: What are you reading?
Me: A Tim Powers book.

Though they’d both stopped and started to talk towards me, when I responded they both nodded (not unkindly) and turn and went back into the building.

So I was left scratching my head over that one. More evidence that I’m no good at reaching out to people, I guess. Maybe they had no idea who Tim Powers is, or didn’t like him? Maybe they actually did have a meeting to get to? Maybe something in my tone or body language said “I don’t want to interact with people right now?” I don’t know.

One thought on “Head-Scratcher”

  1. I’ve had to learn about a lot of this sort of thing very consciously, as you seem to approach it. I’m pretty sure about this case. If you just answer the question and then stop, even if you do it in a very friendly tone, that signals “ok, that’s enough for this interaction.” To signal “I’m open to keeping talking” you would answer the question and then offer something further “A Tim Powers book. I always think his mix of history and fantasy is interesting.” If you want to signal more emphatically “let’s keep talking!” you’d invite a response by asking a question or saying “you know?” or “isn’t it?” or the like. “A Tim Powers book. Sometimes I just can’t put them down, you know?”. Try it out.

    I got here, by the way, from your old pages – I have consulted your summaries and timelines for the books of Dorothy Sayers and Margery Allingham infrequently but repeatedly over the years, and I always appreciate them.

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