When An Extrovert wants to set an Introvert’s Agenda

I’m writing this blog during a moment of frustration. I reluctantly agreed to a meeting tonight that someone else initiated. The meeting really throws my day off schedule, yet I agreed to it because of complex reasons. However, this turn of events jolts my system to the need to confront a reality.

A lot of people want a piece of my time. This is good and bad. It’s good because I want to have something of value to offer other people. When you have something to offer, guess what? People will want to meet with you to get what you have to offer.

Here’s the bad-news catch. When you have something of value to offer others, they’ll often want it on their timetable. “Are you available next Thursday night to come to my blah, blah, blah? Can you join our task force meeting next Tuesday at 2 p.m. at the library to discuss blah, blah, blah? Are you available Saturday afternoon to speak to our group about blah, blah, blah?” You get the picture.

You are assured by the invitee that your presence will add so much to the gathering and how much it will truly mean to everyone to have you in the room. You are so smart, so talented, so good that it would be downright delinquent to deprive others in attendance of your expertise.

I’ve observed something in my days on this earth. Everyone has an agenda. Some agendas are great, others not so great. Some are worthy of your time, while others are a waste of your time. But everyone has an agenda, particularly extroverted Type
A personalities.

When you offer something of value through your profession, knowledge, skills, experiences or persona, others with an agenda will take notice and want you at their table to further their agenda. This often comes into play when dealing with either the social butterfly or “I’m in charge” personalities. They observe that you add value to a group and invite you to join THEIR group to talk about THEIR agenda.

If you’re an easy-going personality type, which more than half the total population is, you have a big target on your back for other people’s time. That’s because easy-going folks make great team members. In-charge, extroverted people want you at the table because you are likely to have a calming affect on the group and you are likely to nod in agreement with what they say. Social butterflies want you to go to their event because of your overall pleasant nature. (Hint: If you’re a jerk, don’t expect others to include you in their plans.)

So, be encouraged if others want you to take part in their stuff. Just realize they are not asking with your best interest at heart. The person who asks you to speak to the Saturday afternoon group doesn’t really give a rip that it’s messing up your day off. The person asking you to the Thursday night event doesn’t really care if you’re tired after a long day at work.

Here’s the rub. After sometimes years of being the easy-going mildly introverted person who fits in well at someone else’s event, you wake up and begin to assert yourself. You seek to take back control of your life. Heck, you may even ask the social butterfly to attend your meeting. That’s when everything flips.

Suddenly, the extrovert would love to have lunch with you, but doesn’t agree to your choice of lunch venue or time. So, they fire back with a “I’d love to grab a bite with you, but Wednesday lunch doesn’t work. Let’s do coffee Saturday morning.” You’re right back where you started with others setting the agenda for your time.

Life in the public square is often a push-pull of “here’s what I need” versus “here’s what you need.” However, if you are the type of person who ends up giving in to the time demands of others, proceed with caution. If you continue down this path for a lifetime, you’ll wind up angry because you spent your life catering to the needs and whims of others at the expense of your own hopes and dreams.

I sometimes have to realize the need to be at someone else’s meeting, including the one tonight, that I don’t really want to attend. After all, life isn’t all about me and it isn’t all about you. Some of my most meaningful times with others came at events I didn’t initially want to attend.

However, begin scheduling at least one thing in your day that is all about you. This is one positive activity that you accomplish of your own initiative. Don’t let someone else sabotage this activity. Not someone else’s meeting, lunch or bunko night. This initiative gets done by you either before or after someone else’s agenda.

At the end of the day, you have the satisfaction of knowing you completed something valuable of personal interest. You also earn the right to say that the workplace lunch or afternoon meeting didn’t rain on your personal goals for the day.

You can’t change your personality. If you’re an easy-going chap, the office social butterfly will always want to pick the day you go to lunch and the location. However, you have the sole decision making power to choose one thing each day to accomplish and then actually do it. Live your life so that you choose the most important thing in your day, not someone else. You’ll be glad you did.

Rex Baker can be contacted at rex@rexbaker.net

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