The Lone Ranger Rides Again

Calm. Cool.

Columns From: 3/1/2001 Modern Machine Shop,

Calm. Cool. Unflappable. Collected. Composed. Steady. Serene. Unflustered.

Solitary people keep their own company. They are their own best friends. They require no one else to instruct or give them directions, to approve of them, to give them emotional support, to amuse or entertain them, or to share their experiences with them. They find their greatest consolation, encouragement and freedom in the deep well of their own aloneness.

They are indifferent to the expectations of the work team. They appear eccentric because they are really free from the urge to make an impact on others or to make others happy. They are surprisingly liberated from the passions and attachments that plague and distract so many of us. They may sacrifice emotions and relationships, but they acquire precision and imagination.

Their yearning for solitude is not an apparent reaction or avoidance. They simply prefer their own company. They actually like to be alone, and they can be startlingly free of loneliness. They just do not savor emotions as robustly as the rest of us. And this is very difficult for the rest of us to understand.

Reclusive people are detached. They are not sensors or emoters. They are doers and spectators. On the job they tackle and focus on the work at hand, don't fidget and are not easily bored. Predictably independent, they do not require a lot of feedback and can take criticism gracefully.

Their work environment and surroundings are the crucial factors for their performance. Withdrawn people are not team players and do not relate well to customers. It's not that they are unmanageable. Rather, they can be lumbering and easily annoyed with the daily banter necessary to maintain most types of client relationships. They tend not to be responsive, tactful or amenable to meandering and understated forms of communication. They have little tolerance for office politics. As managers, they tend not to comprehend and appreciate the personalities of their workers, and they usually don't cope well with human resources problems.

When left alone, they can put their mind to their work without interruption; without feeling lonely, weary and disconnected; and without much thought to appreciation and recognition. They have the ability to concentrate in solitude and to be completely at ease in a machine shop environment.

Today's manager has to learn to let this person be. The most common blunder managers make when contending with loners is trying to goad them to be like everybody else. But these people are who they are. They may not socialize much or respond intensely to you, but they are knowledgeable and conscientious. The manager must not assume that these people are uncomfortable or unhappy because they prefer to be alone. For them, a life crammed and overflowing with people is torment. Instead, appeal to their innate sense of logic and avoid any appeal to emotion.

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