From The Straits Times    |
Op-ed: How to be a secret introvert and succeed in an extroverted workplace

Warning: Rant ahead.

Some days, I look up from a transcript of an interview I’m working on and see the poor sods around me in the office, and I think: Darn it, can’t I just “ghost” and be done for the day?

But here’s the catch. The writing and copy-editing that I do – which I love, thank you very much – entails small-talking with a bunch of truly insufferable industry folk (mixed in with some very nice ones I consider personal pals.)

More often than not, I finish a press presentation feeling as drained and dried up as the grape skins used to make the Pinot Noir I need to wash down the day with.

Sadly, there’s really no two ways about it – to make it, you have to fake it. For fellow introverts looking to game the system, here’s a quick-and-dirty run-through of the stuff you need to do to “pass” as normal at a cocktail party:


There are the sympathetic, awkward anti-heroes in the vein of Rami Malek in Mr Robot, and then there are the truly sociopathic Norman Bates of the world. You always, always want the people around you to think you’re the former sort of introvert. To do that, you need to Make Eye Contact and Nod every 15 seconds whenever someone is speaking to you, so they think you’re Listening, Observing and Empathising.


I’ve also found it useful to bookmark vintage vids of Princess Diana in her prime (or J-Law, if you’re a Millennial). Make no mistake: She’s a master manipulator, that one. Practice her aw-shucks, eyelash-ey doe-eyed murmur in the mirror every night, five reps per set, and you should be able to tiptoe your way out of superfluous small talk.


When all else fails, make up some story about an ailing granny, then excuse yourself from polite society … and make your way to Netflix, a good book and Bourbon in bed. Freedom!

See? Easy-peasy. Toodles, I have “real” writing and half an episode of Mr Robot to attend to. Cheers to being a fully functional introvert!