Slightly Off Center

Introvert envy: How to pass as one of us

By Dennis Hinkamp

I consider myself more of a trend observer than a trendsetter. Trending lately seems to be chorizo, which is available at Maverick and as a new Spam (the meat-ish product, not the internet) flavor so you know it must be good. Also trending is chipotle-flavored everything including a restaurant-ish place by the same name. The third and most personally annoying trend is introvert envy.

There are more than 15 legitimate books on introverts that show up on an Internet search including, of course, How to be an Introvert for Dummies. Come to think of it, dummies are probably also trending because they have their own section in the bookstore and two branches of the government now. Anyway, as a lifelong quiet, shy, weird, stand-offish, introvert guy I am extremely annoyed in my quiet way. Everyone wants to claim to be partially introverted now that it is sort of cool and desirable in the workplace.

Being an introvert was something my fellow intros and I held onto tightly as something that made us unique; even if painfully so. That’s why we need to be entrepreneurial and start instructing the screeching extroverts how to pass as introverts in their job interviews. Let me give you a few introductory lessons:

The 10 foot rule: There is some arcane business trope that says if a customer, swimmer or pedestrian comes within 10 feet of you, you have to engage them. By engage I mean asking some rhetorical question such as “how’s it going?” or “can I help you?” If you want to pass as an introvert you need to learn to anticipate your path and circle around sales and service people. Failing that, just pretend to be looking at your phone so you don’t have to interact; this is believable in most situations.

Carpooling: What sounds like a fun road trip to extroverts sounds like mobile water boarding to introverts. If you want to pass for introverted you need to come up with excuses why you need to just “meet you there” even if it is a 500-mile trip. Alluding to contagious diseases usually works or you can go with the more mundane “I have to make some other stops along the way.”

Pretend to listen to people: This will drive extroverts to head explosion, but you need to at least feign listening to people before you jump in with your super awesome opinion. It will also be more convincing if you throw in real questions. Try replacing “how’s it going?” with “Do you think that genetic editing will save or destroy the world?” Alternately replace “what are you doing this weekend?” with “how do you think climate change will impact lawn mower sales?”

Eschew collaborative workspaces: I honestly don’t think these work for anyone; they are just a cost-cutting ploy by building designers who will never have to work in the buildings they design. “Hey if we eliminate several of these walls and doors we can sell it as “collaborative.” Similar to the vanpool scenario you can claim to have clinical claustrophobia and/or Tourretes syndrome.
I could tell you more but that might keep you from purchasing my entire course—Seven Steps to Pretending to be an Introvert.

Dennis Hinkamp wishes all extroverts well in their conversion process.

This article was originally published on June 1, 2017.