Apr 27, 2007

I did it! I went out to lunch!

My department participated in a personality profile exercise that was intended to expose how each of us interact and work along with our personality strengths. It has been helpful for me as I try to understand the others in my department and their actions.

I've been studying the report on me and beginning to realize that I don't do chit chat and I avoid social gatherings with people from work. I don't go out on the team lunches. I quit doing them partly to save money, and because so few people would show up. But since our department was merged with another, the team lunches usually include eight or more people.

I also realized that social interactions do help others with whom I work. Also, if I am planning on changing careers and being a missionary, most of my work will be social interactions, so I decided to go on the team lunch.

I'd forgotten what an auditory assault a restaurant at lunch time can be. Wow. There is so much talking that it sounds like the roar of a mighty ocean or a giant water fall. I really had to focus in on what people's words so that I could catch what they were saying. Fortunately I sat next to a man and women that each had teen or pre-teen children heavily involved with sports. Soccer to be exact. That made it easy to make open ended questions in my mouth (I know that's improper English, but that is how it starts in my brain). I listened and asked clarifying questions about as much as I talked.

I have a new goal. It is to become a better communicator. I think that I have always been approachable and, at least, middle school age kids feel comfortable telling me anything. Social "outsiders" tend to approach me more readily then others, but I want to be a warm and welcoming person to whom people can speak even while I maintain a measure of control commensurate to the situation.

I know this will take time and conscious effort, but I've seen people do it. People that you just wanted to talk to, because you know they would listen to what you had to say without mocking or judging. Yet, those same people would guide the conversation so that you didn't "spew" for an hour. An Aspie can get going and "vent" for hours, sometimes without really saying anything. It isn't necessarily helpful or productive.

At other times I've been in productive meetings in which an individual controlled conversation in such a way that everyone had their say without any one person monopolizing the time. That same person kept the conversation on task and the meeting on schedule. He also did it quietly and confidently. He never seemed to have to yell or compel. He just was the leader. Now, he was the "official" leader, but I bet in informal settings this individual portrays a similar sense of leadership.

Such skills will be of great benefit to those around me regardless of where I work.

O.K., so back to lunch. It was fun to hear about other people's children. I enjoy that. The food was good, but I like what I bring in better than restaurant at lunch, and I also like to sit quietly and think at lunch. Yet, those around me seemed to enjoy the experience as a normal part of life.

I think that it is a good thing to do.


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