Social Battery

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Social Battery in the Workplace: An Easy How To Guide for Leaders

I was hiding in the bathroom. I looked at my watch and tried to work out how long until I could leave without looking anti-social or ‘not a team player’.

It was early Friday evening on a beautiful summer evening at Sydney harbour.

I could hear people chatting at the bar, glasses clinking and the occasional cheer as colleagues celebrated the end of quarter.

Sales had been good, targets exceeded, and I knew my team were just warming up for a long boozy night of celebration.

I should have been out there with them. Chatting, sharing stories and spirited banter.

And yet I was hiding in the loo.

I was so drained I honestly couldn’t have engaged in social chit chat if my life depended on it. I felt a desperate, visceral need to be away from that bar – at home where it was quiet.

What the @!*$ is wrong with me?

Not for the first time, I wondered if I was missing some critical sociability gene…

A quick google search will tell you that much has been written about the concept of a ‘social battery’ as it relates to our personal lives, but what about our professional lives?

In today’s fast-paced and interconnected world, the workplace is an environment where social interactions play a crucial role in our professional success.

But not everyone enters the workday with the same level of social energy.

Some people thrive on collaborative brainstorming sessions, networking events, and team bonding activities, while others find these situations exhausting.

Understanding and effectively managing your social battery in the workplace can make a huge difference in your productivity, job satisfaction, and overall work-life balance.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the often overlooked concept of your social battery in the workplace.

We’ll explore the intricacies of social energy, how it manifests in different personality types, and the factors that influence how much social battery you have to work with.

Whether you identify as an introvert, extrovert, or fall somewhere in between, this comprehensive guide will equip you with practical insights and actionable tips to master your social battery in the workplace.

And if you’re not 100% sure where you fit on the introvert-ambivert-extrovert spectrum, take this quick quiz now to find out now.

As you’ll soon learn, knowing this is super important for managing your social battery in the workplace.

Introvert, Ambivert or Extrovert Quiz_Blog Post Advert

Social Battery Definition

Social battery refers to your finite reserve of social energy or capacity for engaging in social interactions. It’s a metaphor that represents the emotional, mental, and physical resources you have available to connect with others.

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Social Battery - Pinterest Pin

Social Battery in the Workplace

Just as a battery powers a device, your social battery powers your ability to connect and engage with others during the working day.

It represents the energy reserve you draw upon during team meetings, presentations, networking events, and even casual conversations in the break room.

And it doesn’t matter if these interactions happen remotely over Zoom or face-to-face – your social battery is in play.

Importance of Your Social Battery in the Workplace

In a recent poll I conducted on LinkedIn, a huge 88% of respondents said they struggle to manage their social battery in the workplace:

Social Battery

So many of us feel depleted and worn out by the end of the day.

All those meetings – collaborating, discussing, brainstorming, negotiating and aligning – can be exhausting.

And if you throw a client dinner, workshop or networking event in there too – it’s easy to see why you’re drained of energy at the end of the day.

The demands on your time and energy may be high, but the level of social energy you have available plays a vital role in your effectiveness both as a team member and as a leader.

Here’s why your social battery is so important:

#1: Productivity

Your social battery directly affects your ability to engage, communicate, and collaborate with colleagues.

When your social battery is adequately charged, you can bring your best self to interactions, contributing effectively to meetings and discussions.

Understanding your energy limits helps you allocate your resources wisely, focusing on high-priority tasks and utilizing your social energy efficiently.

This optimized approach enhances your productivity and allows you to deliver your best work consistently.

#2: Personal Wellbeing

By understanding your social battery and its influence on your work life, you can prioritize self-care and make conscious choices that align with your energy needs.

This awareness allows you to manage your social interactions effectively, ensuring you have the necessary resources to perform your best without depleting yourself.

Social Battery - Why Its Important

#3: Building an Inclusive Culture

Recognizing and respecting the social battery of those you lead is crucial for fostering a healthy and inclusive work environment.

When people are empowered to manage their social battery and are supported in doing so, they can thrive in their roles while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

By acknowledging that people have different needs and thresholds when it comes to social interactions, you can create a culture that values and accommodates these differences, making employees feel valued.

This ultimately leads to increased morale, higher retention rates, and a more cohesive and productive team.

Understanding the impact of social batteries in the workplace allows people to prioritize their well-being, optimize their productivity, foster effective collaboration, and contribute to a positive work culture.

It’s an essential step towards creating a workplace environment that supports and respects the diverse social energy needs of its people.

If you neglect to recharge a battery, it dies. And if you run full speed ahead without stopping for water, you lose momentum to finish the race.

Oprah Winfrey

Factors That Influence Social Battery Levels

Your social battery levels can be influenced by a variety of factors, and everyone will deplete at a different rate, though research suggests that most people will fatigue after about 3 hours.

Understanding the factors that influence your social battery can help you manage your energy effectively and maintain a healthy balance in your workplace interactions.

The first to consider are Introversion and Extroversion as for many people, this is the primary factor that impacts your social battery in the workplace.

Introversion and extroversion are temperaments that are part of your personality. The defining feature between the two is how each spend energy and how they create energy.

Introverts spend energy during social interactions and need alone time to recharge, while extroverts gain energy from socializing and thrive in group settings.

Introverts

Introverts tend to draw energy from within themselves and often find social interactions draining. They typically require more alone time to recharge their social battery.

How introversion influences your social battery:

>> Social drain: Introverts may feel depleted after spending time in social settings such as meetings, especially in larger groups or highly stimulating environments.

>> Need for solitude: Introverts regain energy by engaging in solitary activities, reflecting, and processing their thoughts and emotions.

>> Deep connections: Introverts often prioritize meaningful one-on-one interactions or small group conversations over superficial small talk.

At a networking event they’ll likely have less conversations but build stronger connection and rapport with those they do speak with.

>> Selective socializing: Introverts may be more selective about the people they spend time with, seeking out those who align with their interests and values.

>> Thoughtful observers: Introverts tend to observe and listen attentively during social interactions, taking in information before actively participating in discussions or debates.

And they tend to only contribute if they feel they have something meaningful or useful to add – they won’t talk just for the sake of it.

Extroverts

Extroverts, in contrast, thrive on social interactions, derive energy from being around others and typically have a higher social battery capacity.

Collaborating, brainstorming and chit chatting with others in the break room – that’s their thing!

 

How extroversion influences your social battery:

>> Social recharge: Extroverts feel energized and rejuvenated when engaging in social activities and being in the company of others.

>> Group dynamics: Extroverts often thrive in larger social settings and enjoy participating in group conversations, workshops and large networking events.

>> External stimulation: Extroverts may seek out external sources of stimulation and engage in social interactions to maintain their energy levels.

They don’t like working alone and will look for opportunities to collaborate with others.

>> Verbal processing: Extroverts tend to think out loud and often prefer discussing ideas and thoughts with others to help clarify their thinking.

>> Wide social circle: Extroverts may have a larger social network and enjoy meeting new people and expanding their connections.

They tend to know a lot of people, and will easily reach out and make new relationships, though may not go as deep in getting to know a person.

Ambiverts

It’s important to remember that introversion and extroversion exist on a spectrum, and you may display varying degrees of these traits.

You may exhibit ambivert qualities – this means you have characteristics of both introversion and extroversion.

You are energised in the right type of social setting for a period of time – and then like an introvert you need time alone to recharge.

Temperament and Social Battery
While the introvert-extrovert dimension plays a huge role in your social battery in the workplace, there’s also other factors that influence your social energy levels:

>> Type of social interaction: The nature of the social interaction plays an important role in your social battery levels.

A one-on-one client dinner might be energising but giving a presentation, sales pitch or town hall might leave your social battery drained.

>> Environment: The social environment is another factor that can impact social battery levels. Noisy and crowded settings can be overwhelming and draining.

And research from Psychologists at the University of Geneva shows that environments with a high level of social stress leads to faster accumulation of fatigue during the working week.

>> Emotional well-being: Your emotional well-being and mental health also have a significant influence on social battery levels.

Stress, anxiety, depression, or other mental health challenges can deplete your social energy faster.

>> Physical health: Physical health directly affects overall energy levels, including your social energy.

Factors such as sleep quality, nutrition, exercise, and overall well-being can impact your social battery levels.

>> Dynamics of the interactions: The dynamics of social interactions, such as feeling judged, compared, or experiencing conflicts, can drain social energy.

Positive and supportive interactions tend to be less draining, while negative or challenging interactions may deplete your social battery more quickly.

>> Size of the group: The size of the group can influence social battery levels. Larger groups often involve more complex social dynamics, increased noise, and more simultaneous interactions, which can be draining.

>> Duration of the interaction: A couple of hours collaborating on a project might be fine, though a full day workshop may leave you with an empty battery. But others would love this – bring it on!

>> Person you’re interacting with: Engaging with difficult people, a demanding client or those you have little in common with, may require more energy and contribute to social fatigue.

>> Power imbalances: Power imbalances or a lack of a sense of belonging can impact social battery levels.

Feeling excluded, marginalized, or navigating interactions with people who do not understand your perspective can be draining and deplete your social energy.

Signs of a Drained Social Battery

Just like a phone running low on battery, your social energy can become depleted, leaving you feeling drained and in need of a recharge.

Here’s some common signs that indicate your social battery is running on empty:

>> Exhaustion: One of the most common signs of a drained social battery is feeling mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted after social interactions. You may find yourself feeling drained even after relatively short periods of being around others.

>> Connection: Connection and collaboration with others may become more challenging, as you may struggle to actively engage in discussions, contribute to group projects, or maintain a sense of teamwork.

>> Communication: You may notice a decrease in your ability to communicate effectively, leading to difficulties in expressing your thoughts and ideas clearly.

>> Difficulty Concentrating: A drained social battery can make it challenging to focus and concentrate.

You may find it harder to actively engage in conversations, follow discussions, or absorb new or complex information.

>> Withdrawal: When your social battery is depleted, you may feel a strong desire to withdraw and spend time alone.

You might find yourself cancelling plans, avoiding social events, or seeking solitude to recharge.

>> Irritability: When your social battery is low, you may notice that your patience wears thin quickly.

Small things that wouldn’t typically bother you may suddenly become irritating or overwhelming, leading to a shorter fuse when interacting with others.

>> Reduced Empathy and Engagement: A drained social battery can diminish your ability to connect emotionally with others.

You might struggle to empathize or engage fully with others, leading to a sense of detachment or disinterest.

>> Heightened Sensitivity: When running on low social energy, you may become more sensitive to external stimuli.

Noises, lights, or crowds that wouldn’t typically bother you can become overwhelming and contribute to feelings of fatigue.

>> Increased Social Anxiety: Exhaustion from social interactions can exacerbate feelings of social anxiety.

You may become more self-conscious, worry excessively about social judgments, or feel apprehensive about engaging with others.

Signs of a Drained Social Battery

Dangers of Ignoring Social Battery Depletion in the Workplace

Ignoring social battery depletion in the workplace can have significant negative consequences for both individuals and organizations.

And it’s not just your own social battery you need to be aware of – it’s the social energy of those you lead.

Here’s some dangers to be aware of:

>> Decreased Productivity: When your social battery is depleted, your ability to focus, concentrate, and perform at your best diminishes.

You may struggle to stay engaged in tasks, make decisions, or contribute effectively to projects. This can lead to decreased productivity and a decline in overall work performance.

>> Impaired Communication and Collaboration: Social battery depletion can impact communication and collaboration within teams.

Fatigue and irritability may hinder effective communication, resulting in misunderstandings and misinterpretations.

Collaboration and teamwork suffer as people find it challenging to actively participate, share ideas, or work cohesively with others.

Dangers of Ignoring Social Battery Depletion in the Workplace

>> Strained Relationships and Team Dynamics: Ignoring social battery depletion can strain workplace relationships.

When people are mentally and emotionally drained, they may become less patient, more prone to conflicts, and less empathetic towards colleagues.

This can create a negative work environment, erode trust, and lead to strained team dynamics.

>> Increased Stress and Burnout: Chronic social battery depletion can contribute to heightened stress levels and increase the risk of burnout.

Over time, employees who consistently ignore their social energy needs may experience physical and mental health issues, decreased job satisfaction, and higher rates of absenteeism and turnover.

>> Reduced Innovation and Creativity: Innovation and creativity thrive in environments that foster collaboration and free-flowing ideas.

When social batteries are depleted, people may lack the mental and emotional capacity to think creatively, contribute novel solutions, or engage in brainstorming sessions.

Recharging Your Social Battery

Why do you press harder on a remote-control when you know the battery’s dead?

Steven Wright

Just as your laptop needs to be recharged to function optimally, your social battery needs to be replenished to maintain healthy social energy levels.

Some ideas, tips and strategies to recharge your social battery:

Tip #1: Develop Self-Awareness

How do you spend and re-charge your energy?

Start by developing self-awareness around your social energy levels. Pay attention to how you feel during and after social interactions.

Think about how you spend your time during the workday – meetings, conversations, collaborating on projects, brainstorming sessions.

Think about specific people, situations and events. How do they affect your energy levels?

Recognize signs of social fatigue, such as irritability, lack of focus, or decreased motivation.

Regularly assess and monitor your social battery to understand your limits. And pay attention to how long it takes for you to re-charge once you feel your energy is drained.

Tip #2: Your Re-charging Toolbox

As everyone is different, you need to experiment and figure out what works best to recharge your battery.

For some people it’s solo down time such as reading, a hobby, gardening or being in nature. Or perhaps it might be something more active but still solo, like going for a run.

For others, it’s spending low key time with people they’re very comfortable and familiar with.

You might want to watch a movie with your immediate family or have dinner with a friend you’ve known for years and can totally relax with.

Start to pay attention to what works best for you and be willing to try some new things to add to your re-charging toolbox.

Tip #3: Improve Your Socialising & Networking Skills

Networking events, conferences, client dinners, corporate sports events, charity fund raisers – these events typically drain your social battery fast and they’re often the type of events people dread!

Improving your socialising and networking skills will go a long way to conserving your social battery.

Being in environments that you find difficult or stressful will eat through your social energy fast – so being more comfortable and at ease at these events is going to help enormously.

Vanessa Van Edwards’ “Magnetic Charisma” course on Mindvalley is designed to help you develop these social skills and to easily build strong rapport and connection with others.

Through a series of video lessons and interactive exercises, you’ll learn how to read body language, project confidence, and communicate effectively in a variety of social situations.

There’s also a module on introverts, ambiverts and extroverts and how to manage your social energy, which is super helpful.

If you’re already a Mindvalley member, you can access the training straight away from your dashboard. If you’re not a member yet, learn more about the Magnetic Charisma course here.

Magnetic Charisma by Vanessa Van Edwards

Magnetic Charisma by Vanessa Van Edwards

With lesson on how to quickly connect with anyone, deal with social anxiety and navigate difficult personalities, this training is a must for anyone wanting to improve their socialising and networking skills.

Learn more now

Tip #4: Establish Boundaries

Setting boundaries is essential for recharging your social battery.

Think about all the meetings and events you’re invited to. Do you really need to attend? Is this the best use of your time and social energy or would it be better to delegate it to someone else?

Learn to say no when necessary – this is something many leaders struggle with.

Also, think about blocking time out in your calendar for some solo time. I’ve seen leaders label this ‘thinking time’, ‘reading time’ or even ‘no meetings’ time on their schedule.

You may find this difficult at first, and may even feel guilty doing it, but it’s up to you to carve out your day so it works for you. Remember, you’re in charge of your schedule, not the other way around.

Tip #5: Take Breaks

During the workday, schedule short breaks between meetings or social interactions to recharge.

Use this time to engage in calming activities, such as deep breathing exercises, stretching, or taking a short walk outside.

Disconnecting from work-related interactions even for 5 minutes to make yourself a drink can help replenish your social energy.

Social Battery Recharge - Take Breaks

Tip #6: Practice Mindful Moments

Incorporate moments of mindfulness into your work routine.

Before important meetings or conversations, take a few moments to center yourself and focus on your breath.

This can help you maintain clarity and preserve social energy by being present and attentive when you want to be at your best.

Tip #7: Prioritize Restful Evenings and Weekends

Ensure that you allocate time for relaxation and recharging outside of work hours.

Dedicate evenings and weekends to activities that replenish your social energy – see tip #2 above – Your Re-charging Toolbox.

Unplugging and disconnecting from work-related interactions and responsibilities will help to recharge your social battery.

Sometimes the best way to recharge is to unplug.

Chris Butler

Tip #8: Seek Supportive Relationships

Recharging your social battery doesn’t always mean being alone.

Spending time with people you like, and trust, can actually recharge your social battery.

Cultivate relationships with colleagues who are supportive and have your back – having a coffee with a friendly face after a particularly draining meeting might just give you the social battery boost you need.

Tip #9: Budget Your Energy

If you’re familiar with Weight Watchers, you’ll know you’re allocated a certain number of ‘points’ you’re allowed to spend each week on the food you eat.

It’s common to ‘save up’ your points if you have an event coming up so you can be a little bit more liberal in what you eat and drink at the event, but still remain within your allocated points.

The same applies to your social energy.

If you know you have an event coming up or a particularly busy week with lots of social interactions, you need to plan for it and budget your energy.

Can you plan some lower key or solo activities in the days running up to the event, so your social battery is fully charged and ready to go?

Remember that recharging your social battery is a personal process, and it requires a bit of trial and error to find the strategies that work best for you.

Budget Social Energy

Creating a Work Environment that Respects Social Energy Needs

In today’s Western workplace, the prevailing design and culture is geared towards extroverts.

As extroversion is more prevalent in the population, many workplace structures and practices have been developed to align with the preferences and strengths of extroverted people and those with a large social battery.

Open-plan offices, collaborative workspaces, and brainstorming sessions are just a few examples of how the workplace has been tailored to suit the needs of extroverts.

Even with many of us working remotely, the common narrative of ‘just ping me and we can jump on a call’ is extrovert-centric.

But it’s important to recognize that not everyone thrives in these extrovert-centric environments.

The bias against introversion leads to a colossal waste of talent, energy, and happiness.

Susan Cain

Introverted individuals and those with a smaller social battery may find excessive social interaction draining, can often feel overwhelmed or drained in workplaces that prioritize constant collaboration and extroverted communication styles.

To create a truly inclusive and supportive work environment, it’s essential to acknowledge and respect the diverse social energy needs of those you lead.

By embracing the unique strengths and preferences of both extroverts and introverts, you can foster a team culture that allows all people to thrive.

So, here’s some strategies for creating an environment that supports and accommodates diverse social energy levels:

Talk About Social Battery Needs

Encourage open and honest communication among your team members about their social energy needs.

Create a safe space for people to express their preferences and limitations when it comes to social interactions.

Encourage them to openly discuss their recharge strategies and any adjustments they may need to maintain their social energy levels.

Talking About Social Battery Needs

Educate Your Team About Social Batteries, Introversion and Extroversion

Many (many) people believe that what defines an introvert or extrovert is how friendly they are and if they’re a ‘people person’.

When I explain that it’s actually about how a person gains and spends energy – it’s often a totally alien concept – they’ve never heard this before.

So, it’s really important to educate your team about the concept of social battery and its impact on individuals’ well-being and performance.

Raise awareness about the different factors that influence social energy levels and emphasize the importance of respecting each other’s boundaries.

Promote a culture of empathy and understanding and foster an environment where colleagues can support one another in managing their social batteries.

Respect Boundaries

Establish a workplace culture that values and respects individual boundaries.

Lead by example by respecting and honoring the recharge needs of your team members.

Avoid scheduling unnecessary or excessive social activities and consider alternative ways to foster team bonding that cater to different energy levels and preferences.

Encourage breaks and downtime during the workday to allow people to recharge, whether it’s through taking short walks, engaging in mindfulness practices, or simply having quiet time to think.

Provide Recharge Spaces

As many people are returning to the office now, designate areas within the workplace where people can retreat and recharge when needed.

These spaces could be designated quiet areas, relaxation rooms, or even outdoor spaces that provide a calming environment for people to take a break and rejuvenate.

Provide Recharge Spaces

Final Thoughts: Social Battery

As a leader, the responsibility of managing not just your own social battery but also those of your team members is a crucial one.

It’s not just about hitting targets and meeting deadlines; it’s about fostering an environment where everyone can thrive.

Understanding your own social battery enables you to lead by example.

Prioritize self-care, set boundaries, and communicate openly with your team about your energy needs. This sets the tone for a workplace where social battery management is respected.

Recognizing that your team members have different social energy levels is super important.

Encourage open conversations about their needs and challenges. Adapt your leadership style to accommodate these differences, allowing each individual to contribute at their best.

By doing so, you not only enhance your team’s well-being but also boost productivity and foster a culture of inclusivity and support.

Ultimately, you’ll create a workplace where everyone can excel, and no-one feels the need to hide in the loo at Friday night drinks. 😉

Now over to you. Leave a comment below and tell me the one tip you’re going to do first to re-charge your social battery.

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Hello!

I'm Jenny Ostick

As an Organizational Psychologist and Master Coach I’m on a mission to make good leaders exceptional leaders. My lifework is to help leaders overcome the unhelpful beliefs, behaviours and habits that are holding them back, so they can become the exceptional leader they’re capable of being.

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Breakthrough Coaching

Hello

I'm Jenny Ostick.

As an Organizational Psychologist and Leadership Coach I'm on a mission to make good leaders exceptional leaders.

I've spent the last 20 years working with leaders across the globe and have had the privilege of working with 1000+ leaders during this time.

I've worked with the likes of Deloitte, Virgin, Nestle and Coca-Cola to name just a few, and this has provided me with a unique insight into the difficulties that leaders face and the real things they struggle with.

My lifework is to help leaders overcome the unhelpful beliefs, behaviours and habits that are holding you back, so you can become the exceptional leader you're capable of being.

learn more

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