Feb 15, 2010

They Didn't Notice? They Must Be Flawed ......

So here I am in project team meetings trying my best to sound professional and informed. I felt like I was clearly not. Other than a bachelor's degree in communication I had no real training for my job at a major pharmaceutical. No background in database implementations or project management.

It as fun and really not that hard after all, but I was always afraid that some one would figure out that I was just some guy and not a real professional. When I would make a comment in a meeting, I would expect some sort of .... something from the others to indicate that what I said was worth while. I don't know, they all gasp, or blush with excitement. I'm not realy sure.

Well, that nearly never happens in project meetings. Typically there is no clear indication that what you say is really great so after the meeting I would be convinced that I had sounded like an idiot. What made it worse is that it would dawn on me that no one in the room noticed that I was an idiot. After all, if they had they would have said something.

"Adam, I notice that you are clearly untrained and not suitable for the job you're in, how did you happen to be here."

That never happened. So then I would start to wonder if they were flawed in some way, because they didn't notice how stupid I was. That would make me feel superior to them, and a bizare mental spiral would begin.

I discovered that I had to decided the merits of my own ideas for myself and weigh them against others comments and new information. I quit expecting some great outpouring of adoration if I had a useful idea. Typically, no one says anything, but the idea ends up somehow moving into the project. If it's a team project that's just how it works.

If I have years of experience or am recognized as the Subject Matter Expert in an area, I'm just another person on the team and usually won't get any special notice.

Also, I realized that most of the people I worked with were at least a little odd, and if I didn't do anything terribly unexpected then my comments wouldn't stand out as particularly weird no matter what I said.

I crave validation, but the world around me doesn't give it much. Real validation comes from God in the Bible. When I look more intently there I don't feel as flawed nor do as see others as flawed.

At least I'm moving in that direction.


Feb 11, 2010

What I Know....Doesn't Matter

I think this might be true for many or most Aspies. When I'm in a group or in a class as another person is talking on a topic I have the urge to say what I know on that topic. Sometimes I know quite a bit on what is being discussed or could explain it better than the leader who is speaking.

It's at times like this that I need to understand that what I know isn't important.

The leader or teacher has certain things that he or she wants to cover and though I have a great urge to divulge at least some of what I know.....no, I really want to verbally puke out all that I know....it breaks the rules for what is expected in a social learning environment.

If you are like me you might feel like it is some how wrong or that people are missing out by not hearing your perspective. You might be right. You might no more than a particular leader or might be able to do a better job of presenting what you know. But if you've entered into a group where everyone expects to hear from a certain person (and not you), this you are breaking a social rule if you volunteer your information.

Does that seem like goofy rule? It is a goofy rule if the whole world revolves around you, but it doesn't. Every person has equal value in the world, and others have a reasonable expectation that if they come to a group with the expectation that a certain person is the leader or teacher then they should be able to hear mostly from that person.

I was in a team meeting once where the official project leader had specific list of things to talk about and time lines for what to cover. The meeting was progressing nicely, until a coworker walked in late to the 1 hour meeting and proceeded to talk about what HE thought was most important for the next 30 min. Everyone felt embarrassed and began to develop disrespect for this coworker. All the work and preparation of the team leader were wasted, because this other person took over. It wasn't fair.

This person did this in other meetings a lot. He didn't realize he was breaking a social rule. His boss never told him. Later he got a demotion disguised as a job change. So he got mad and found another job. Many people were glad when he left.

It is a sign of respect and that you are a mature adult when you respect other people, by being quiet a lot. It's hard for us Aspies, but it is very important.