Personal Space, Respect, and Introverts

This might be another bitchy sounding blog post.  It’s not meant to be, but it’s not not meant to be, either.

Let’s start this notnot-a-bitchfest-blog with an open ended question:

What is up with people not respecting others’ personal space?

Situation:

I am at work. Working.  Doing what I am paid to do.  Staring intently at my computer, typing, switching back and forth between some spreadsheets and our enterprise software.  There are papers strewn all over my desk.  The office space is an open-layout, we’re not in cubicles.  An associate comes in, and unfortunately I am aware even though he says nothing that he is perturbed that I did not stop working to greet him as he passes by. He continues on and speaks to my co-worker for a few minutes, but on his way back out he stops by my desk. He’s not actually there to see me.  He doesn’t actually need anything business-related. I am working. He comments about the intensity of my activities. No shit, Sherlock.  He makes a joke about how I’m not smiling, and says I should smile. Maybe there’s a reason I’m not smiling, and maybe it’s none of your business.  Maybe I’m not some circus animal that’s supposed to rearrange my facial expression for the amusement and comfort of others.  I’m not here to entertain you. He makes another remark about me not smiling at him.

I laugh, like I’m not at all amused, and say, “Right. I’ll put you on my calendar.”  He looks surprised, but then leaves.

True story.  Sometimes, I can handle people who invade my space in this snarky way where people can’t tell if I’m joking or not.  Other times, they don’t relent and I physically leave the space, and attempt to avoid them in the future.

But I have to ask, why is it so hard for people to just respect people and leave them alone when they clearly want to be left alone?  Why is that such a difficult concept?

I blame this on extroverts.  I could also do a whole blog, or book, about how there’s a culture where loudness is somehow the norm, and even though extroverts are actually less than half of the population, when introverts are mentioned or discussed it’s almost always like they’re some freak psychological mishaps that need therapy to become more extroverted.

This is simply because the ones who speak are the ones who do not understand what it means to need silence.

Extroverts have a completely different modus operandi, and many of them seem to be incapable of grasping the concept that just because people are different does not mean that there is anything wrong with them or that they need to change.

Which brings me back to the point of this notnot-a-bitchfest-blog, why don’t people fall back on the idea of respecting others’ personal space?  What makes people think that they have the right anytime, anywhere, to essentially harass anyone until they give the desired response?  Where does this insane sense of entitlement come from?

In the words of the great philosopher, P!NK, I’m not here for your entertainment.

Now, I love me some extroverts.  Well, at least my sister Rachel who’s an ENFJ, and I’m not saying that as a whole they’re bad a lot.

But being an extrovert means that the person NEEDS contact with other people to feel happy and fulfilled.  Extroverts get their energy from social interaction.  Introverts lose their energy through social interaction.

And at times, I feel like my soul is literally being sucked out by the incessant noise.

Personal space and respect are not difficult concepts.  We teach these concepts to toddlers.  If I have my headphones on, am not making eye-contact, am not talking to you, am purposefully doing something, anything else other than interacting with you then what in hell makes it okay to keep poking at me with your social interaction, like I’m some performer meant to amuse you?  Why is it so difficult to simply leave me be and come back another time?

Extroverts seem to believe that people must actually be blind and deaf for someone not to acknowledge them.  This is seen by the repeated, awkward hand-waving in the air, repeated questions and statements, and increasing volume and physical proximity.

Seriously? We know you’re there.  Even Helen Keller would know.

Back to my work space again.  The office has an open layout.  At times, I love it.  At times, I hate it.  One extrovert in particular seems to take personal offense if I do not respond to her right away if she asks me something, work-related or not.  I could be on the phone, talking to someone else, just getting into the office in the morning, it doesn’t matter.  She sees her need to interact with me, as more important than me and whatever work I am doing.

There is nothing wrong or defective with me, or anyone else, who does not feel the need to constantly engage with other people.  I have enough of a brain in my head, and am enough of a human being all on my own that I do not need hourly, in-person social interaction to survive and feel complete.

And again, this is not a bash-all-extroverts blog post.  I’m simply bashing the lack of respect that some of them seem to have for other people.

I don’t understand noise simply for the sake of noise — meaningless, shallow, contrived.  Small-talk is a great name for itself.  Social interaction is like food for the soul, but small-talk is like chewing on cardboard.

ERROR 404: Social Energy Not Found

2 thoughts on “Personal Space, Respect, and Introverts

  1. I swear we were switched at birth.

    This. So much this. ALSO IT PISSES ME OFF WHEN I HAVE A NEUTRAL EXPRESSION UPON MY FACE BECAUSE I AM OUT RUNNING ERRANDS OR WHAT-HAVE-YOU, AND SOME (USUALLY ELDERLY MAN) PERSON DEMANDS THAT I SMILE. “Your face is too pretty not to smile!”
    AND YOUR OPINION IS TOO SMALL FOR ME TO CARE.

    I have lots of feelings about personal space and people’s demand for attention or ‘proper reaction’. It’s insane.

    Like

  2. THANK YOU. It’s a wonderful thing to be understood. And whenever I write about stuff like this I’m torn between “don’t be so negative” and “it needs to be said.” And I lol d at the “too small to care” comment.

    Like

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