This time of year can be testing for geeks.
Mostly, you want to be researching and making things – whatever form your geekdom takes.
Your idea of socializing involves thinking: ‘I’ll just tell ‘em what I’m doing and massively into, currently -and then they can relate to it if they want to’.
At a do this time last year, after 2 and a half hours of listening to me going on about the web, I caught the bloke sitting next to me mouthing ‘help!’ across the table to another guest.
You’ve been warned.
And unfortunately all the most brilliant researching and making in the world may not get to the right people, if you don’t turn up physically at social events, and remind them of your existence.
If any of this chimes with you, I bring tidings of great solution, for here is a way of making socializing tolerable for geeks.
Interpret ‘Socialize’ As ‘Seek And Search’
In the 1950′s, George Kelly, a psychologist came up with something called personal construct theory. This views human beings as research scientists, constantly making sense of what happens externally, with theories we hold internally. One view of the difference between extraverts and introverts, would be that the first prefer to focus on the external world, while the second love lolling around in their internal ideas.
Kelly’s work is of great use in helping people who suffer from mild social anxiety or shyness. It suggests we view ourselves as researchers in social situations, preparing subjects we wish to find out about beforehand and then seeking out people who may be able to help us with our research.
So a dreaded ‘drinks with the boss’ event can reframe itself as ‘a chance to find out about resistance I may encounter about the project I want to do next year’.
We can posit, test reaction, and note.
The canny amongst you will have realized something now. This means YOU DO NOT HAVE TO TALK ABOUT YOURSELF AT ALL.
You just have to flag up some enthusiasm for what you’re up to and then ask open questions of the ‘Do you see the direction as…?’, ‘Is there room for….?’ and ‘What would you think of…?’
For geeks too, this approach can make presenting much easier. A pitch or presentation becomes about ‘Here’s a spill-of-the-beans here, about research into something useful and relevant for you‘ rather than ‘Here’s a chance for me to shame and humiliate myself by looking ill-at-ease’.
Read Quiet by Susan Cain, if you’d like more on this.
OK. Off here now to write a book. A Christmas lunch yesterday gave me great research on what people want to know about the subject.
You know who you are who I talked to – and thank-you!
You – and the lunch – were lovely.