7 April 2021
Each week, Dr Kirstin Ferguson tackles questions on the workplace, career and leadership in her advice column “Got a minute?” This week, networking as an introvert, support after sexual harassment in the workplace, and concerns for a colleague’s wellbeing.
It is fair to say the majority of people, introvert or extrovert, would groan at the thought of being told to go and “network” whether that is walking into a room of strangers or having to build networks online. The idea of developing a connection from nothing is daunting and more than a little off-putting for most.
I have overcome my dislike of “networking” by reframing what it means to me. I like to think about the people I connect with as being built on a genuine relationship where we listen to one another, try and help each other with any problems and make further introductions where appropriate. It is all about quality over quantity, and authenticity, rather than collecting names and business cards.
Think of networking as a way to develop a small number of high-quality relationships. You may also discover that as an introvert, you have skills that can be used to your advantage; you may never become the person at your workplace with the most connections but rather the person with the deepest.
Active listening, for example, is often something introverts are much better at than extroverts.
Thank you for sharing your story and choosing to bravely speak up about what happened to you. We know that women are sexually harassed far too frequently in Australia and it happens irrespective of whether women work in a high-pressure role or not. For someone to suggest that you could have contributed to your own sexual harassment is, quite frankly, shameful.
Fortunately, I believe there are many HR professionals who are sensitive to the complex issues that arise around sexual harassment and would have handled your situation more appropriately.
As for what HR professionals can do to better support women like yourself, my suggestions include:
The health and wellbeing of your colleague is incredibly important, and it is good that you are concerned for them, but you need to tread very carefully with your concerns.
I would speak with your HR representative or your direct manager if you continue to be worried about his wellbeing and they can take steps to support your colleague should he need it. It is also important to ensure you are not contributing to any office gossip about his potential alcohol issues since this is not helpful for his wellbeing and mental health, or your office culture.