December 4, 2010

Why No Pants is Interesting

Please bear ( bare?) with me: this post as promised is about being real – or as organizational or cool types like to call it – authentic. Theme in head, it’s been one of those weeks where connections to it have come crowding in.

Over at the Dylan Jones Evans blog the dynamic Welsh professor discusses anonymous comments and blogging. Anonymous comments are boring to me: they fail to reveal how the commentator negotiates social controls to live with the rest of us. And they’re often made by scared people.

Now about 10 days ago, I did a turn at a conference and was scared myself whether it had gone down well, feedback not due till a week later. During that week, a neurotic web trawl resulted in finding ‘Confessions of a Public Speaker’ by Scott Berkun

Geronimo! This guy is a gale of fresh air who turns self-help into performance art.

And fresh air is clearly Scott’s thing. For he reveals that sometimes he chooses to go commando when he speaks in public. Yes indeedee: he goes up on stage as Mr No Pants. (Note to those of you stuck for something to do. You could always check out his videos and play ‘ Is he?’/ ‘Isn’t he.?’).

But more importantly, he makes the excellent point that being real is interesting.

How Fakers Lose Reality

So by real, I’m talking open, trusting and undefended behaviour. How we conduct ourselves when we are not worried about being appropriate or found out to be lacking. When we reveal stuff about ourselves and our emotions that encourage others to identify with us. Where we show quirks and vulnerabilities that connect.

In situations where we need to defend ourselves, we often become fake:

We go to a job interview. Our content and behaviour are unnaturally wholesome. We answer the ‘what are your faults?’ question with a ‘too much of a perfectionist’ or ‘ just massively over-enthusiastic’. We don’t get the job because they never saw what makes us tick.

We have to give a presentation to an intimidating audience. We make damn sure they know all about our qualifications and we blind them with science. Our defence is ‘they will think I’m clever’ which results in them thinking ‘ Brainy speaker of no relevance whatsoever to me’.

We owe someone a very late payment on an invoice. They ask for it. We hide behind our role and point out that the travel expenses were not quite accurate or the 6 months delay is actually 5…. We do not apologize like a decent human being. Instead we become our nit-picking job description and nothing more…

The trouble with all our attention going into defending, is that it prevents us connecting fully with reality. We put so much energy and effort into ‘this is who I will be in this situation’ than there is none left to ask ‘what is really going on here?’ Our capacity for scanning and researching diminishes.

Confessions of a Shy Socialite

shy girl

People are much more interesting when they are undefended, there being around 4500 distinctive identified traits which describe individual personality. So someone who is up for sharing this distinctive uniqueness is a lot more fun to talk to, than someone who is hiding behind a defensive shield of ‘Isn’t this party awful?’ or ‘ let me tell you how marvellous I am’ or ‘ I’m depressed and I want to emotionally contaminate you, too’.

And we all know in the workplace that ‘sharing resources’ ‘collaboration’ and ‘partnership working’ are the orders of the day.

This festive season then, it may be worth flinging those metaphorical pants away, and going into it as a psychological, if not actual, commando.

Ps. Maybe, Scott – and others – this pants habit causes an availability buzz?

Next time: How Web Design is like Business Pitching

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