For decades we’ve tried to find ways to connect introverts and extroverts in the workplace. Or we’ve expected one or the other to to change (usually the introverts). Or we’ve just overlooked the issue all together. As an introvert myself who has spent many years pushing my own boundaries around socialization, I am not only aware of the challenge, I’ve studied it, and I’ve helped companies put strategies in place to be more inclusive in ways that appeal to both ends of the spectrum.
But a phenomenon has recently occurred in our society thanks to this meddlesome global pandemic. It’s called Virtual Happy Hour. Who would have thought an executive order around social distancing would create just the the right cocktail of circumstances to unite these perfectly polarized personalities.
Why does this work? Well, it provides a venue for every social appetite. You can lean in or lean out as much as you choose. You can mute. You can participate from behind the curtain. You can change the curtain, the persona, the conversation. You can bring your pet, your kid, your partner and it’s perfectly socially acceptable. You can wear makeup or not. You can dress in your gym clothes or your best dress. It’s like show and tell. And best of all, I’ve found it to be a no judgement zone. How fun that we’ve uncovered a way to lead, laugh and learn together.
This weekend I attended a virtual happy hour with a group that I graduated high school with (no alcohol required). I saw people I hadn’t seen since I graduated high school. I saw people I never knew and wasn’t ever friends with. They were all over the country doing different things and having different perspectives. It was pretty cool. I hope when we have moved on from our current circumstances we don’t abandoned some of the bridges we’ve built to let people in to our ecosystems versus pushing them away. Hail to the virtual happy hour!