Everyone has their personal superpower — and their personal kryptonite; that proverbial Achilles heel that succeeds in thwarting them no matter how they try to work around it.
My kryptonite is people… Specifically when having to interact with them.
See, I suffer from some fairly debilitating social anxiety. It’s serious enough that it even affects me in my video games — where if some random person walks up and starts typing at me, I’ll panic and log off.
This can make it a bit difficult to cultivate friendships, as you can imagine. The few friends I have tend to be the exact opposite of me socially and will undeterredly strike up many-hour conversations with any random person they encounter. Which I envy a bit.
I also assume this is why I end up getting comfortable enough around them to open up a bit; they don’t take no for and answer and just keep trying until I stop running away.
I know this is a weakness, and I try to ‘fix it’ by putting myself into controlled situations where I have to interact with people. For example, the role-play stuff I do on Second Life is an attempt to have some controlled interaction with people. And from behind the safety of a character it does help a bit, but if I stop for any length of time it can be a Herculean effort to force myself back into it again.
This is one of the big reasons I became so good with computers I think, and why I’ve stuck to programming or systems engineering for the last 40 years; I.T. isn’t a ‘client facing’ position, so I’m left to work my arcane spells and build my mad science experiments in some darkened back room where no one goes.
Leave me be, slide a pizza under the door on occasion, and I’ll continue to make the magic that keeps the doors open and the money coming in.
Unfortunately my sales director has never caught on to this, so a few times per year I’m forced to interact with a client for some impossible engagement, and clients can get confrontational — and that never works out well.
See, when I’m forced into a confrontation with people, my entire goal becomes getting out of the situation as expediently as possible… So I’ll acquiesce to damn near anything as long as it means I can get away — and this is generally bad for sales.
Take my current client; I’m a few hours over on the contract, but I don’t really care because I just want to make them happy so they will go away… Sales on the other hand does care because that’s money being left on the table. So the sales director gets irked, I get irked, the client gets irked, and no one ends up happy…
But the sales director gets his commission; so he’ll put me back in this position in 60-90 days, as always, and it will all repeat.
I’ve jokingly mentioned many times that the only way out of this loop is to fail in such a fashion that he doesn’t make commission off of the project… The problem is I’m not good at failure either, and will put in 60+ hour weeks while no one is looking to ensure I don’t fail.
This time though, things have aligned so poorly and I’ve been hung so far out to dry by the lack of people around the office because of zombies, that I think failure is inevitable — so there might be a light at the end of the tunnel…