My role at work is changing such that I'll need to interact with people face-to-face and over the phone much more than I currently do. The problem: I'm kind of awkward. I don't want to make things go poorly for my employer, so what is my next step?
For background, I'm 22, female, live in the US, and I've been in the working world for about a year.
I know that I'm socially awkward. I'm not someone that people find "creepy" or "off-putting" - I've just always felt like I don't quite read out of the same "rule book" as everyone else in social situations, like others have a mutual understanding that I lack. I score on the extremely low end of this empathy quotient
(16 to be specific). I don't have a "warm" personality, and I'm frequently at a loss for words or feeling like the things I say are out of place. I often talk out of turn because I can't tell if someone is going to stop talking. I also make a lot of weird mistakes, and sometimes say the wrong words - like today, I asked someone "How are you going?" when I meant to say "How's it going?" or "How are you doing?" (but that's just one example, I do this frequently and in even weirder ways).
My manager is giving me some new duties at work where I will need to interact directly with people more. I can see that she trusts in my abilities enough to give me these responsibilities - she even directly said to me that it's okay if I make mistakes occasionally and that new skills are best learned by doing - and people are not usually fired at my workplace if they are trying their best, so I'm not worried that my job will be on the line. We are not a very rigid or excessively formal workplace.
But I am worried about hurting business for my employer. I don't want important contacts to meet me and be turned off by my awkwardness. My goal is to have people meet/call me and think "she's someone that I like working with" rather than "she's kind of odd" or "she seems very immature and not professional".
I don't want to discuss this with my manager. She is my boss and not a mentor figure. I don't think this conversation would be helpful or appropriate.
So I'm wondering where to go from here. Is therapy the correct option? Is there some other kind of coaching that I should try? Books I should read? Are there professional development courses geared toward someone like me?
Or is my manager right and I should just accept my new duties with grace, inevitably mess up a few times, and learn from my mistakes? Or do people in the professional world not even care if others are slightly socially awkward?