Introverts in Hospitality and Food

Being an introvert can make it difficult to succeed in the workforce, even more so when you’re in the hospitality and food industry. Some professions will have you working under mostly solitary conditions, which is an introvert’s dream aside from the occasional call or meeting to shake things up. But in hospitality, you’re almost always around other people. You regularly speak with and serve strangers in a front of house role, and while a back of house role may not see as many customer faces, the environment is still very much verbal. Shouting a warning for an open oven or a held knife quickly becomes the song of the kitchen, and for some introverts, it’s a huge drain of energy.

But as Vince Lombardi once said, “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” Now’s not yet the time to throw in the towel and walk out of the kitchen! Introverts are not alone in the working world, and definitely not in the hospitality and food industry. There are many articles with advice or first-hand experience living as an introvert in the industry, such as Culinary Agent’s list of ways to overcome shyness.

As an introvert myself, I’ve been there. I’ve worked those long hours doing nothing but calling out to passersby, promoting a new product for my restaurant. I’ve raced against the clock in the kitchen, prepping for catering or helping slay the beast that is Friday dinner rush. It can make getting up in the morning tough, and facing your peers even tougher. But there are some advantages to being an introvert in the kitchen, and even in customer-facing roles!

Introverts tend to speak with deliberation. As they don’t always talk as often as extroverts, their voice can be heard differently. In fact, introverts can make great leaders in hospitality, too! It can be surprising how much they are capable of in social work situations when they put their mind to their tasks and focus on those as opposed to the loud environment they may also face. Adapting to a more outgoing workplace doesn’t mean you have to just stop being an introvert - quite the contrary, actually! A great way for an introvert to succeed may be to play to their strengths.

Emulsified Family makes an interesting case for her introverted chef husband, where it seems he leaves his quiet, reclusive hat at the door when he leaves for work, and respectively leaves his outgoing work hat at the door when he leaves for home. Such an exercise may seem daunting, but it’s not as difficult as one might think! Consider this going out of your comfort zone like exercise - getting into the habit of going to the gym might be difficult and tempting to quit at first, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Plus, the incredible feeling of finally going home to rest, read, and speak to no one cannot be compared.

Feel free to search the internet for anything relating to introverts and food, hospitality, or customer service in general, and you’ll find many people who have grown in these workplaces who are just as introverted as the next person, and methods that might help a fellow introvert be able to fit in better amongst the extroverts they work with.

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