Avoidant Personality Disorder

Avoidant Personality is not a term to be used loosely, but sometimes I wonder if I might actually be suffering from it. Anyone who knows me at all will know that I am a mass of contradictions. For example, I’m not very social, but I do like to host small dinner parties for friends; I’m quite selective with whom I share personal stuff, yet I’ve started this blog;¬† Some colleagues have become really good friends at school, but I’ll avoid going back to see them.¬†I know right – it doesn’t make sense. I also avoid conflict if I can but will engage in it if it absolutely essential.

We all have bad days, we are all busy at work and we all sometimes would rather keep ourselves to ourselves. These are the strategies I’ve implemented over the years to counter these moments. They help me¬†

Avoidance Behaviour Strategies

How avoiders can sometimes feel! Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Sally Flint’s Work Place Response to¬† Avoidance Strategies

(Failure to adhere to these terms and conditions will result in you being known as a miserable old toad.) 

  • Fake friendliness by smiling and making eye contact with each and every colleague in the corridor, even those with whom¬† you’ve just had an email argy-bargy. (It’s not always the librarian’s fault when kids are five minutes late back to class!)¬†
  • Say a follow up ‘hello’ and British nod to all colleagues in the corridor who have given you even a glimmer of a smile back to your original greeting. It doesn’t matter if you know them or not. Avoid names to avoid errors. You can avoid without getting involved.
  • Keep your face neutral but practise ventriloquism and utter expletives (but keep them under your breath) to those who rush past and don’t even glance at you. This is great avoidance behaviour.
  • Make sarcastic comments to those colleagues who¬†choose¬†not to see you. “Nice to see you too … you miserable git! ” Keep them just out of ear-shot, after all you do have to work with these people.¬†
  • Force those, with whom you’ve had a difficult professional exchange,¬† to say hello, with a loud, cannot be ignored,¬† friendly greeting. “Oh hi Tina, you look in a rush.” Keep the “yeah right” sarcasm out of your¬† smile as they reply, “Ah sorry, didn’t see you there.” It is of course possible that they haven’t seen you (not likely though!)
  • Learn the layout of your workplace so that you can take alternate routes to final destinations, thus avoiding staff with whom you’d rather not chat. This increases your step count by anything between 500 and 5000 steps a day. (After a particularly unpleasant disagreement with a senior colleague I managed to do this for several years. When however forced to¬† speak ¬†they were much nicer than I’d remembered – silly me!)
  • Learn to recognise talkative colleagues footsteps, have a planned escape route for the avoidance of a chat you don’t have time for. Have you noticed how some colleagues apply the 20% – 80% rule to 80% chitter-chatter?¬†
  • Walk purposefully emitting an air of you’d love to stop and chat if only you weren’t so busy.¬†
  • In situations where you really cannot avoid interactions,¬† be shameless in your use of¬† ‘noise phrases’, e.g. “Not long until the end of term now … It’s warm today isn’t it … have a great half term won’t you …” type thing.¬†
  • When possible time your bathroom and canteen visits to be slightly out of sync with the regular breaks and lunch schedule. This does mean that you may have to hold your bladder on occasions and have a rumbling tummy, but on the plus you do get to eat lunch alone.¬†

Avoidance Behaviour Can Seem Rude

I can be the world’s worst, or best, (depending how you look at it) avoider. Here’s comes the contradiction again though – I can’t stand it when I spot other avoiders avoiding me.  I find avoidance behaviour very rude. It’s simply not friendly,. Avoidance behaviour is frequently poorly executed and thus upsetting. So, whilst it is too little too late, I’ve given myself a stern talking to. From henceforth pledge to not fake a smile, but actually smile. I’m sure with a bit of practice the art of avoidance is one I will learn to avoid all together!

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