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“People Scare Me” Confessions of an Introvert

I’m a fully-growed (shades of Ellie May Clampett from my childhood), mature woman and in spite of my “Bold Living” mantra there are some things that stop me in my tracks. I’m not talking about snakes, scorpions, rats or other horrifying pests, I’m talking about human interaction. People scare me. Do people sometimes scare you too?

Recently I’ve learned that I just plain don’t like confrontation…even with the cable representative or my insurance company. I can’t explain this, to you or to myself. I dread and procrastinate making phone calls about invoices that need to be adjusted, asking meeting planners if they want to host an event or reminding someone of a commitment they made. I’ve found that I’m more of a closet introvert than I ever imagined when it comes to some circumstances.

When I shared this new-found inner insight with a friend she suggested that I spend some time in conversation with God about my irrational fears. She assured me there was something in my past that is bringing this about and that when I recognize it, I will be free.

This is going to be more than a quickie morning quiet time, so it hasn’t happened yet. Maybe I’m afraid of what I’ll find out?

What are the people-related stressors in your life? Those things you hate doing but can’t find anyone else to do for you? Maybe you feel fearful, maybe it seems like drudgery, maybe you’re afraid you’ll fail or you’ll be hurt. Maybe you think you’ll disappoint someone when there’s a show-down.

We all have things on our dread list of human interaction. Each person’s list is unique. My mother-in-law (who is 81 years old!) doesn’t blink an eye having confrontations with people or sorting out administrative problems. She gets to the bottom of things and doesn’t let anyone back her down.

Any kind of writing or public speaking is at the top of one of my best pal’s list. She’s so smart and does a great job, but she is severely uncomfortable with people possibly judging her communication short-comings.

One of my issues is that I can escalate quickly from nice to –well- not so nice when people don’t give me answers that make sense. And that happens often with customer service dealings. I’m a total failure at keeping my cool. Don’t poke the bear. I don’t like being the bear, so I avoid taking care of things that require confrontation.

While I think it’s a good idea to spend the majority of your time doing things you’re good at and that make you smile, I do think we all need to be purposeful about doing the yucky stuff too, especially when it comes to interpersonal interaction. The human factor and the unknown response; some fear this combo, some face it gracefully head-on.

If you’re picking up what I’m throwing down, I’ve thought of a couple things we might try.

  • Schedule those awful phone calls…put ‘em on your calendar so they don’t get ignored and routed to the bottom of the pile on your desk.
  • Imagine the worst possible outcome and what that will mean to your life. Probably not a huge deal most of the time.
  • Consider what your objective is and create some clear talking points to that end.
  • Remember that you have the opportunity to be the only kind and grace-filled voice that person may hear from today, so make it count. God will smile.

People can undo the best of us but human beings are always a part of our purpose, so if you struggle like I do, having a game plan might make it get easier.

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Authored By Diane Markins

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