In a world where people are attempting to gain more advantages while producing less value, introverts are often bombarded with demands on their time and energy.
This notion became abundantly clear as the current president of our homeowners association (HOA) began soliciting me to retake the reigns of our HOA.
Five years ago, I became the HOA president after observing behavior in our community that would affect our quality of life and our property value.
Our covenants clearly state that no basketball courts can be erected in driveways.
As homes were being sold, the developer allowed a homeowner to erect a large trampoline on their property.
This infraction warned that more violations would be on the horizon if HOA covenants were not immediately enforced.
As an introvert, I would have been satisfied living in our new home without any concerns.
Perhaps, I was never suited to be the HOA president for these times.
I ruled with an iron fist and was only concerned with covenant enforcement, which aligns with my black-and-white philosophies of the world with a minimal gray area.
I have a healthy mistrust of human nature, believing people can be good or bad based on self-interest. And they are guilty until proven innocent.
In many circles, these are unacceptable leadership qualities in today’s society.
However, after all the homes were sold, the collaborative and friendly spirit that once existed among homeowners fell by the wayside.
The willingness to obey the rules and respect fellow homeowners was no more. As I attempted to regain order as the HOA president, the harder they fought.
Finally, I resigned.
The remaining board members did not support my efforts, preferring that we become more relaxed about covenant and code enforcement.
Now, one of these board members who became president wants me to take over again.
She now feels my challenges and wants to get out of her current responsibilities.
Whether problems with HOA boards, colleagues at work, or friends needing advice, people bombard introverts when they need something because many introverts have shown consistency and reliability in their lives and the ability to execute initiatives.
In my estimation, people don’t look for introverts because they appreciate us. They look for introverts because we have a track record of achievement and success.
My wife, who is also an introvert, has become an unofficial therapist at her accounting firm.
If she works remotely for a day, the next time she returns to the office, she has a line of people waiting to see her with their problems.
Coworkers love that she is an active listener with a caring spirit and willingness to dispense sensible advice.
Today, more and more people are looking for people to lean on.
And never has the value of introverts increased since the economy has become global and individuals have started feeling smaller.
Introverts whom society overlooked once upon a time become saviors.
A drowning man doesn’t care who supplies a life preserver when his life is on the line.
And this desperation will only grow as the lives of individuals continue to go off the rails.
Because of this reality, introverts must protect themselves against excessive encroachment.
There are several recommendations introverts can implement to reduce being bombarded.
Choose jobs that allow greater autonomy.
Introverts are productive and effective at completing tasks with minimal supervision. As a result, they should be encouraged to work on projects where their proficiency is supported without any intrusion by coworkers.
The manager’s and supervisor’s responsibility is also to protect introverts’ space from slackers.
Managers and supervisors can supply isolated office space where introverts don’t have to enforce the protocol prohibiting excessive socializing by peers.
Generally, introverts convey a “live and let live” philosophy toward life.
However, people tend to interpret openness and flexibility in ways that suit their self-interest.
Consequently, introverts must say what they mean and mean what they say.
Boundaries can be set explicitly by providing specific directions or implicitly by ignoring or continuing an activity as someone is attempting to impede the process.
Ultimately, people aren’t being nefariously unproductive. They merely lack the focus, discipline, and goal orientation of many introverts.
Save casual conversations for lunchtime and after hours
Placing people on a schedule reemphasizes the need to set boundaries.
My wife told me watching soap operas was one of her favorite TV activities in college.
She would distribute written schedules of her shows to friends, forewarning them of the times she was unavailable. If they tried to call during the prohibited times, they received a busy signal because she would take the phone off the hook (“Oh, the good old days.”).
Formalizing social encounters allow for greater productivity.
Grant reasonable requests but do not assume greater responsibilities
Once introverts agree to fulfill reasonable requests, they should only do what was promised. It is allowable to make any corrections or modify what was asked, but to extend actions past what was agreed upon is a recipe for exploitation.
Unfortunately, many people take kindness and congeniality for weakness.
There is no need to explain actions once someone has crossed the line and direct communication has been cut off.
Always have options when overwhelmed.
No matter how isolated and secluded productive introverts may be, people will always seek them out.
There were many occasions when I thought people had lost or forgotten my phone number, only for them to call requesting advice or a favor.
Once the shock wore off and the conversation was over, all I could ask myself was, “How did they get my number?”
Ambitious introverts are generally busy, so it is true when they say they are in the middle of doing something.
Being busy, no longer in a particular industry, or unsure about a request are excellent reasons not to allow bombardment.
In his book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” psychologist Robert Cialdini said that almost any excuse is acceptable if you place the word “because” in it.
An example would be, “I can’t do that because I am no longer in that industry, and things have changed a lot since I left.”
Also, many introverts don’t think quickly on their feet, particularly with unusual requests.
As a result, introverts should say, “Let me think about it,” to buy more time to decide.
Today, people are becoming more selfish and self-absorbed, requiring introverts to develop a harder shell.
Introverts can exercise more control, independence, and productivity over their lives by taking a strategic approach to bombardments and intrusions.
Ultimately, introverts must save themselves from the barbarians at the gate.