There are many jobs that don't involve people much, or at all, yet I see people who should be working in those industries working with people instead, and I think it's not a good fit.
Recently I met someone who I thought would be a people-oriented person since they (I won't say "he" or "she" because I don't want people to try to figure out who I'm talking about) have written lots of books to help people, talk about meeting various people, and are in different media communicating with people. They even travel around the country to talk to people while promoting their books, so I figured since they were in my area, I'd go see them.
Since they've been promoting themselves as a people-helper, I felt like I could talk to them freely, but I noticed they seemed sort of uncomfortable that I had tried to converse with them. When I saw them again, other people were attempting to chat, but they weren't encouraged to elaborate. By the end of the experience, the supposed people-person was busy doing required tasks and pretty much shut the door on any spontaneity or one-to-one human interaction.
It's just one example, but I've met other people like that in a people-oriented communication industry, where it's good to give lectures and network, or teachers, who need to interact with students as a group or individually. Why are they working with people? There are plenty of jobs where they can plant themselves in front of a computer or in a lab, where it would be detrimental to talk to or even think about other human beings, because it would impede progress. But there they are, making a living while being squeamish about human interaction, wincing when an individual has questions or wants to talk with them further about a topic or basically socialize. People who are not into people don't like small talk or words that have no function other than to connect people. They only like to talk to people about things that are relevant to their job or purpose. Otherwise, they're drained and even complain about it. Newsflash: get another career and leave those jobs to people who really want to interact.
Just off the top of my head, there are a couple of guys who I've worked with who have people-oriented jobs, and they really like people. One guy teaches all day and night, does a lot of community and organizational work, has a family, and is pretty busy. Yet he always makes time for people. He could lead a meeting of about 100 people, and after lecturing and back-and-forth discussions and challenges from the group, he'll make the time to meet with anyone who walks up to him. Even after teaching a four-hour class, he'll meet with students who need extra help, talk with me and other co-workers, and even take phone calls from various people. He's energized by people and has a passion and love for them.
Contrast that with the person I met recently, and the difference is stark. The person was only there to talk to the group, and seemed squeamish when people approached them. They looked drained and uncomfortable, thus were really only playing the role of a speaker. "Only watch, don't come any closer," was the vibe the person gave off. I can imagine them retreating to wherever they live with relief that the dreaded people interaction was over, and they can continue to write about how much they care and want to share. Whatever.
Another guy who exemplifies true appreciation of people spent many years in the hospitality industry. He had to talk to people for his job, but even after it was over, he'd continue talking to people wherever they were, really engaging and asking how they were doing. Like the other guy, he wasn't drained but energized by people. Like the other guy, he was in an industry that fit his personality. I'm sure if he did work in the introverted world that I'm in, he would greatly suffer. So like the other guy, he found a good fit.
So please, if you're squeamish about people, don't work with them. And if you've written a book, don't do a book tour or lectures. Or maybe you shouldn't get a book published because in today's environment, writers have to promote themselves and if they really make it big, have to get their appearance broadcast on Book TV. I would love to write a book and be asked to talk about it in front of people. I'm not scared; I've been teaching for years and have done workshops. No big deal. Plus, when people walk up to me to chat or ask questions, no problem. I'm not drained by them but welcome them, and feel excited to interact. Save such space and opportunities for people like me and other people-oriented folks because that's what we enjoy a lot more than pretending to be introverts to survive the computer-oriented world that we live in. The world that you'd probably be happier in.
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