The Nefarious Danger of Avoiding People
Introverts enjoy people but need time to recharge after being in groups. This post is not about them.
I’m talking about withdrawal for nefarious reasons.
The meaning of nefarious isolation:
Early in life we begin telling people what we want. Toddlers throw tantrums, for example. As time passes, we get more sophisticated.
Children take their toys and go home when their friends don’t play “right.” Today, you might close your door like an angry teen, not answer your phone, or find excuses to avoid people.
Nefarious isolation means you want something you’re not getting.
It’s easier to throw a tantrum than to say what you want. It takes courage to express heartfelt desires.
In our world we can live and work in isolation. On one hand, it’s advantage; on the other, it’s dangerous. A connected team goes further faster than a group of isolated individuals.
The person who withdraws loses the ability to turn big aspiration into reality.
In isolation your ability to achieve drops to one person.
Isolation as a nefarious message:
- Don’t ask me to do anything I don’t want to do.
- You’re not giving me what I want.
- I’m a control freak and only play with people who do everything I say.
- People can’t be trusted. A wall is safer than a window.
A person who isolates:
- Expects you to change but has already made up their mind.
- Wants to teach you but refuses to learn. A closed mind is self-affirming.
- Serves themself, not the team.
- Enjoys expressing their opinion but is bored when listening to other’s ideas.
Work hard to connect – when isolation is easy – so you can bring noble aspiration into reality.
All isolation isn’t nefarious. Self-reflection requires time alone. Occasional isolation enables higher productivity, for example.
How have you seen isolation cause damage?
What do you do when you see the desire for unhealthy isolation in yourself?
When Isolation Becomes Dangerous (Psychology Today)
Why Successful Leadership Depends on Connection (Forbes)
The Great Leaders Guide to Connecting Emotionally with Others (Maxwell)
you’re touching that line between appearing to control myself and manipulating others… I have to be careful with that – lots of traps here ….
Thanks Ken. It’s interesting that you bring up manipulation. It was on my mind this morning, even though it’s not in the post. One difference between manipulation and leadership-influence is intent. Do you wish well for others or is it selfish?
I think there’s also value in withdrawing partially or completely from toxic relationships for the benefit of your own mental wellbeing.
Thanks Chloe. Yes, yet another value of withdrawl.
Interesting…..Can you comment on people who self-isolate but want to break out of that cycle? I think some people self-isolate to protect themselves…
Thanks Lauren. Great question. It makes sense that one reason people self-isolate is self-protection. It could be that we protect ourselves from the danger of disappointment, for example.
If a person has a leaning toward self-isolation…
1. Reflect on the value of connection both personally and organizationally.
2. Think about building a preferred future. It’s doubtful a preferred future can be build in isolation.
3. Begin slowly.
4. Connect to add value to others with no strings attached. “How can I help?”
5. Schedule plenty of alone time.
6. Have conversations with people who are great at connecting. Ask for simple suggestions.
7. Find a mentor who is great at connection and can give you real-time feedback.
8. Reflect on the value of self-isolation. What are the personal advantages? Disadvantages?
9. Explore temperament. Is self-isolation a reflection of introversion. Adopt strategies that help introverts navigate social situations and manage energy.
10. Connect with generous people who enjoy the give and take of relationships. Avoid takers.
Just a few thoughts…
Any tips for going after a team member who self-isolates for the nefarious reasons you describe?
Thanks Ken. The first thing that comes to mind is are they bringing specialized value. If you have someone on the team that has unique talent, value, or knowledge then maybe it’s best to tolerate them until you can either replace them or mitigate the issue.
I don’t have a lot of hope that manipulative self-isolation can be solved easily.
If you set out to address the issue, the only thing that will help is a strong relationship with the person. Do they trust you? Do they believe you have their best interest at heart?
The other thought that comes to mind is bring their strategies into the open so they can see them self.
Finally, talk with them about what’s good for them. Give them examples and reasons why self-isolation doesn’t serve them well. They probably won’t get what they are trying to get – in the long-run – through self-isolation.
The thing that concerns me is the problem of self-awareness. Manipulators think they are serving themselves well, even when the advantage they gain is only short-term.
Thanks, Dan. Good things to think on.
Sometimes, you self isolate because of lack of leadership, and you get tired of trying to fill in for your boss who lacks of leadership skills, your not appreciated and for your mental wellbeing, you just withdraw.
Thanks Simona. You are so right. If I may say, this type of self-isolation usually doesn’t serve us well. It turns us into poor performers who bring less value than we are capable of bringing.
A lousy boss sucks the life out of us. However, it’s seldom a good idea to pull back and do a mediocre job.
Having said that, the power of a lousy boss to bring out the worst in others should be acknowledged.
You have my best. And please take my comment in a compassionate way.
Thank you Dan, I love reading your posts.
Great read! It speaks to one of my favorite quotes on teamwork!
If you want to go fast, go alone.
If you want to go far, go with others.
~ African proverb