How Introverts Can Stop Being Easy Targets to Exploiters & Opportunists

Quite often, exploiters and opportunists target introverts because introverts appear noncombative and agreeable.
There are two fundamental things that introverts can do to lay the foundation for not becoming targets by: 1.) Developing a personal philosophy that responds to the selfishness of human nature, and 2.) Cultivating physical and verbal self-defense tools to offset the fear and nervous energy that comes with heightened sensitivity.

By metaphorically becoming Teflon as opposed to Velcro, introverts can become forces to reckon with.


Pundits who comment about the plight of introverts often have simplified explanations for how and why introverts sometimes find themselves at the behest of dominating people.


Granneman (2018) asserted two reasons why introverts are targets by stating:

First, many introverts are good listeners. They’re generally not clamoring to make their voices heard. In fact, it’s usually quite the opposite: In unfamiliar social settings or in large groups, introverts tend to remain quiet, unless they have something of real value to say. And in our extrovert-obsessed society, when you remain quiet, you open up a space for others to move in.
Because toxic people put themselves first, they have no problem moving into that space and taking over. They have no problem dominating the conversation, and by extension, attempting to dominate the introvert’s life (Granneman, 2018, para. 7- 8).
… Secondly, for many introverts, it’s hard to say no. It takes a lot of energy to verbally spar with a strong-willed personality and explain your needs. As a result, many introverts simply go with the flow — which is exactly what a toxic person feeds on (Granneman, 2018, para. 10).

Unfortunately, the critical mistake many commentators make is pitting introverts against extroverts. In their worldview, the plight and degradation of introverts rest with loud-mouth, overbearing extroverts, whose self-absorption becomes the bane of introverts’ existence.

However, this is a narrow view of extroverts. Yes, there are some introverts who love the sound of their voices. But, largely, extroverts are battling the same insecurities and neurosis as introverts.
How Introverts Can Stop Being Easy Targets
 

The natural enemy of introverts are those individuals who are domineering, and wish to inflict their needs, and shortcomings onto introverts. And this can be administered by extroverts, as well as other introverts.

People who seek to dominate others are inflicting their will as a means of gaining power. Who better to seek power than those lacking in it?
All introverts are not shrinking violets. There are some introverts who don’t fit the stereotypes often attributed to them.
I remember taking an acting class at Georgia State University to overcome my shyness of public speaking, and to enhance the animation in body movements when given a presentation. I was in an excited and playful mood on that particular day.
So much so that I decided to joke around with a classmate who was quiet and reserved. She was sitting in a theater style chair watching other students perform on stage as I squeezed by her legs, intentionally kicking her feet as I walked by.
It was meant to be a joke that didn’t go over too well.

Before I knew it, she said, “Wait a minute motherf*****, you don’t know me like that…Don’t you ever kick my feet again.”

I was extremely embarrassed, and had no reply for her outburst. That lesson taught me to be careful how I played around with strangers. For every introvert who appears to let such transgressions pass, there are a cadre of introverts who will address the issue with similar bluster.

Introverts who are exploiters and opportunists appear to be outliers, but there are number of them out there. Their quietness is a shield. I have heard of instances when a quiet person terrorized a community, and the authorities didn’t believe the person was capable of such acts, because he rarely talked.

He was an introvert with sociopath tendencies.

Developing a personal philosophy that responds to the selfishness of human nature


Introverts who have endured years of torment by exploiters and opportunists know one thing to be true—the world only respects strength. Out of selfishness, individuals tend to act in their own self-interest. And any altruism is steeped in the solipsism of the individual. 
Because introverts are thoughtful and highly sensitive, they would literally give a needy person “The shirt off their back.” However, in a domineering world that wouldn’t be enough. As a demonstration of power, dominant individuals would rather take the shirt of one’s back than to ask for it.

As a response to these repeated attacks, some introverts develop a Machiavellian ideology in dealing with people. Instead of catering to their higher angels, introverts may move to the dark side. After years of being victimized, draconian or “An eye for an eye…” retribution becomes part of their moral code.

And anyone who knows them understands that they would never be the initial aggressor. Once vengeance becomes a part of their personal constitution, the fate of aggressors lies in their hands.

Cultivating physical and verbal self-defense
 

Cultivating physical and verbal self-defense tools to offset the fear and nervous energy that comes with heightened sensitivity

Introverts are extremely self-aware of who they are. Consequently, as they develop ways of defending themselves, fear and nervous energy does not leave them. In fact, introverts exaggerate scenarios because they live within their heads. 

A threat does not appear merely as someone testing their response. No, a threat feels like severe bodily harm or death is about to ensue.

Consequently, where self-defense practitioners may fight to merely subdue the opponent, an introvert may take it to another level. There have been instances when an introvert “blacked out,” causing severe harm, and death in other cases.

Exploiters and opportunists will always exist because at the core of human experiences, we are still animals. Higher form animals, but animals nevertheless.

Someone once said that transgressors don’t get the opportunity to determine how one responds to their transgressions. 
Transgressors may take a shallow view of unprovoked attacks. However, the victim might see a deeper divide.

Self-aware and fully evolved introverts do not embrace introversion as a sign of weakness, but a badge of honor. And they prepare strategies and tactics to align with their responses.

In the incomparable words of Roman general Vegetius, “If you want peace, prepare for war.”
Introverts who defend against being targets live by these words.

—Charles O’Connor



Related: The Strategic Introvert: A Quick Guide for Building Influence in a Domineering World

 



References

Gill, N.S. (2019, July 5). Who said ’If you want peace, prepare for war’? ThoughtCo.Retrieved from: https://www.thoughtco.com/if-you-want-peace-prepare-for-war-121446.

Granneman, J. (2018, June 12). Why some introverts are a favorite target of toxic people. Introvert Dear. Retrieved from: https://introvertdear.com/news/set-better-boundaries-with-toxic-people-and-get-your-life-back-a-gentle-guide-for-introverts.

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