A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem
The Quiet One
Dear Sue: I started a new job about one and a half years ago. I
work in a big call center with about 250 people. I am the quiet person in
the department. Everyday I try to be myself and be assertive, but I feel
as though I am not interesting enough for my co-workers. I really wish I
could take my mask off and let go, but canít seem to do it. We have to be
professional in the office, so maybe that is what is holding me back; itís
not easy to be goofy and joke around in a professional environment.
I feel as though I am in my own little world. I am starting to notice
that people don't talk to me very much. I wish they would give me a chance
because they donít even know me, yet I realize I donít let them. What is
wrong with me? Ė The quiet one
Sue Says: I donít think anything is wrong with you Ė you are
simply quiet, and probably more introverted than a lot of the people you
work with. You have really given this some thought, and I commend you for
taking such an honest look at yourself, which you may not have done if you
were always involved with others.
Try not to be so hard on yourself for your lack of connection to
others. Your coworkers bear some of the responsibility too. Reaching out
shouldnít be one sided and they could do more to reach out to you too.
Donít feel as though you have to wait to be approached to approach
others. If you find that people donít initiate conversations with you, why
donít you initiate conversation with them?
While a professional environment neednít be rigid or stuffy, you are
wise to maintain a level of decorum in your conversation and behavior.
My advice for you is to try to let go of worrying about being
interesting enough for others. You donít need to joke around or goofy; if
you try to be someone you arenít it will be evident to others and you risk
Be yourself Ė no one can do it better than you!
Dear Sue: I work with a terrific guy; he is nice as can be, and
is liked by everyone. He is a class act except for one area: the way he
talks. He says things like, How ya doiní? Where ya goiní? Whatja do last
night? Iíve noticed that everything he says is spoken in this kind of
slang. It is so noticeable to me that I assume others notice too. I doubt
he is even aware that there is anything wrong with his speech. I donít
know if it will hurt his career or not, but for all the people who donít
speak that way, I am sure it is noticed. I donít know if I should I say
something to him or mind my own business Ė does it matter how he talks? Ė
Sue Says: It does matter how people talk, yet I think people are
more tolerant of differences in dialects due to the increased diversity in
Without knowing what this person does or whether his job requires a lot
of communication, it is difficult to know how much of a problem the way he
talks might be. It may not be a problem at all; perhaps his casual
conversational style is what makes him so endearing to others. However, in
certain environments his speech could be distracting, and has the
potential to undermine his credibility.
Only you know if your relationship with him is safe and close enough to
say something. Sometimes humor can be used as a vehicle to broach
sensitive subjects, but you need to be delicate whenever you attempt to
offer unsolicited advice.
Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She
is author of the newly released
101 Tips for Graduates and
How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her web site at
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