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How to talk to people more?


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Let me start this out by saying I know this is kinda a stupid topic, there's not much other people can do, but I need to...let it out, I guess?


I had my 6-month review at work a bit ago and I've done very well in everything except being sociable. The store I work for really does pride itself on its customer service and apparently my job (organizing/cleaning up shelves) /only/ exists so there's someone to interact with guests, as in other stores this job is usually just done by the stock workers.


We're technically SUPPOSED to greet every single person who walks by. I do get in moods where I do this, but for the most part, I just smile and nod at them. Now, I am NOT shy, nor am I "afraid of people." I don't think I'm "better than them" or "hate them" or whatever else people think about quiet people. I'm just very introverted, and my job isn't exactly the most demanding, so I usually get lost in my thoughts while I'm working. I can make small talk outside of work no problem, its just at work I have the problem.


Like I said, I'm not entirely sure what advice people can give to me, but its worth a shot? Has anyone else went through this before and came out of their shell? Or maybe there's some mantra you repeat to yourself to remember to talk to people (lol)?

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Ugh - I dislike being evaluated on my 'sociability' by my employer (or mostly just dislike having to write it up as part of my performance review). But since you have to walk around and help customers I guess it is a really important part of the job. I think just making a point to say hi, how are you, even something like "let me know if there's anything I can help you with" to many customers would be great. (as a fellow introvert I'm not personally craving to hear so many employees at a store say this But just making a point to say hi to most people and periodically asking if they need help should go a long way.



Note that I think the other reason why more and more stores do this now is "loss prevention" - basically people are less likely to feel comfortable stealing if people have been greeting them in the aisles, they feel like they may be caught. So just fyi this could be part of the reason why they want you to be more proactive.

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One of my previous jobs involved this element - the rules were that you had to say "hello" to absolutely every customer you saw... and honestly it got ridiculous, to the point where people laughed and it was all a bit of a joke. Many, many times I had to explain to customers that I was simply required to do this, and would often end up apologising, because it simply looked silly. I actually HAD to make a joke out of it, simply to undo the damage that this awkward, out of touch policy would do to sales. I stopped doing it after a while, mostly out of protest, but also because I'd had a lot of honest feedback from customers who all said they found it irritating and made them feel pressured/hassled.


I found that simply making eye contact with a customer and smiling was MUCH more effective, because it let the customer know that I knew they were there, and that I was friendly - this put them at ease, making them feel confident in coming and asking me for help if they needed it... better than me pestering them regardless of whether they wanted assistance or not. A lot of people simply don't want to be interrogated about why it is they're shopping somewhere or what they're looking for. The internet has made people a lot more private about their shopping habits.


I'd continue how you are, in all honesty. The fact is that pushy/nosy assistants DO cause lost sales in retail. Especially when we live in an age when people are all too aware of the fact that a website doesn't ask "do you need any help at all?" and then stare at you as you browse. Tell your employer, with respect, that you're willing to make adjustments if they can offer proof that your current style is not producing the same, if not better results than the way they want you to do things. If they insist on your subordination, then simply tell them that you're not prepared to be forced into becoming a completely different personality type for the sake of a job. If they are so particular about the personality types suitable for the role, and it's such an essential part of the job to pester customers, it's their fault for not eliminating you at the interview stage.


At the end of the day, you are unique, and if the company you work for doesn't appreciate you for who you are now, and all the qualities you have as a person, then that's their loss. Forcing you to be someone you're not will only be massively demotivating and demoralising to you, it will be potentially damaging to the company as well, as this is exactly the sort of thing that encourages resentment toward an employer - they're already in danger of doing exactly that.


To be honest, it sounds to me like you are at a point in your life where you really need to progress with your career in order to grow as a person. Stick with it for now, but start looking for something else. Find an employer who is willing to take advantage of your qualities now, not mold you into a shelf stacking greeter robot.

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I think you make some good points, Inkscarred. I think it also depends what kind of store this is - a small shop where too much talking is awkward? (In which case, yes, eye contact and smile are good), or a big box store where a hello is necessary to get peoples' attention? For some reason I was picturing the OP's store as very big, but could be wrong.

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I have to add, your job sounds awfully old fashioned and out of touch with modern trends. I don't mean to worry you but, if your company ever found themselves needing to cut back, yours is exactly the sort of job that would be first to go... perhaps something else to consider. There's no shame in changing jobs for the sake of job security.

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I understand the frustration you have with your employer's expectations of being sociable. I am also frustrated with my work situation and sociability at work. I am a serious and quieter person, when I am focused on my work, while trying to be as productive as possible, and preventing errors in my work. I find it very disruptive to my focus to just look-up from my work at random, with the random interuptions, and be a beaming, smiling, happy, extroverted, socializing, spontaneous appropriate words and sentences, sales-type personality, when sales is not part of my job as an administrative assistant. It feels fake and awkward. I am not like this everywhere I go, outside of work, just mostly at work. I am 60% introverted, and 40% extroverted, according to a test I took. I think I tend to be more introverted in a work environment, because it is an intimidating environment with the expected goal of speed, perfection, and trying to solve tough problems I know little about, spontaneosly, whether I am currently socializing, or not. If you or I wanted to, we could take business courses in customer service or business communications, or whatever related courses, but it doesn't change our personality. I think most businesses don't like introverts, but we (introverts) still need to make a living too. Both inkscarred and WockaWocka make very good points about the work situation. I think the management does need to listen-up sometimes as to what isn't working, just because it is done out of tradition from the founder of the company. Not all customers want store employees asking if they need help, when they have never asked for help, and the internet can be used as an alternative, to increase the privacy of a customer's shopping experience.

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