Ask the typical employee what they most want from their jobs ...
Go ahead; do it. I'll wait right here.
Chances are, the most frequent answer you received was something along the lines of "the sense of satisfaction that comes with working hard to help people solve problems that make their lives better."
In other words, they want "money. Lots and lots of money."
Ask me what I want from a job and you'll get an altogether different answer.
I want to be left alone.
I'm an introvert, and there are plenty more like me. You don't know this important factoid because we introverts are stealth employees — or try to be. Our goal is to never be asked a question, never stand up in a meeting and never have to talk to our co-workers, our managers and, most of all, that nosy parker, Dennis, from IT.
To an introvert, the best thing a manager can say about you is "the name's not familiar. Do they work here?"
All of which proves what your mother told you: "To be successful is wonderful. To be anonymous is even better."
Ethan Hauser is a self-confessed introvert and the author of "The Plight of the Office Introvert," a recent article in The New York Times.
According to the Times, lots of people are introverts. "Some say we may make up 25 percent of the population," Hauser writes, "while others say the ratio is roughly 50-50."
There is much about the office environment that Hauser does not like. He does not like "orientation breakfasts, trust falls, should we whiteboard it?, team-building yoga, team-building karaoke, team building in general."
He especially doesn't like brainstorming, and who can blame him? No introvert wants a bunch of weirdo workplace strangers storming the shadowy corners of their brains. Makes sense, yes? We introverts don't want to be forced to answer intrusive questions, like "How are you?" or "Can you lend me a paper clip?" We certainly don't want our co-workers marching through our subconscious in 10-gallon gumboots.
While Hauser is very clear about what introverts don't want to do, which is everything and anything that demands interaction with other human people, when it comes to creative strategies introverts can use to protect their basic human right to be invisible, he comes up short.
Fortunately, as an extremely outgoing introvert, I can provide the strategies that will provide shelter from the storm of snoopy colleagues and buttinsky managers.
Strategy No. 1: Stop coming to work.
More companies today are willing to let you work from home — or, in your case, not work from home. This makes all kinds of sense. Why should your employer pay for expensive office space for you to goof off in? You can be just as unproductive in your own home and save your company the money it would otherwise spend on electricity, heat and salty snacks.
Best of all, when you're at home, there's no one who is going to demand you interact with them. Except Oprah, Ellen, Maury, Julie, Wendy and Dr. Phil. They're annoying, you bet, but when they start getting personal, you can always turn them off. You can't do that with Mary-Sue from HR.
Strategy No. 2: Wear office camouflage.
Hunters who want to sneak up on their prey will dress in camouflage. That means green-colored clothing which hides you behind realistic designs of trees, plants and spiders. The same principle applies to office camouflage, which hides you behind realistic designs of workstations, copying machines and, of course, spiders.
If you really don't want to be noticed, come to work naked. People will see you, but they won't remember it. The sight of naked you bending over the watercooler will be so horrible, it will sizzle their little brains.
Strategy No. 3: Tell everyone EVERYTHING
This won't be easy. You will need to ingest a mind-altering substance to turn your brain inside out. (Ayahuasca works. So does scarfing a half-dozen cinnamon buns.)
The strategy is to temporarily transform yourself from a meek introvert, who never says anything to anyone, into a loud-mouth extravert who never shuts up. Fill the workday with stories of your experiences in summer camp. Regale your co-workers with the secrets of Hummel collecting. Call everyone together and explain, with a detailed PowerPoint, why you think Billie Eilish represents the sonic evolution of Paula Abdul.
If you can chat your way through one blabbermouth workday, you'll be safe. No one will want to interact with you ever again.
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at [email protected] To find out more about Bob Goldman, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: Free-Photos at Pixabay