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  1. #1
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    How to improve my "impression of a human being"?

    As some of you know, I'm working on a temporary project. Working on this project involves a lot of meetings and pitching for funding/recognition (at the moment, within our own company), to potential partners (either internally or externally from the company) or just to gather information.

    If the project gets funding by our deadline, then I have the opportunity to stay on the project for an initial 6 months (then we have another round of pitching to do).

    My initial reservation is that I don't have the social skills required of the role. I was going to decline, but have had feedback from 2 team members that they think I'm valuable on the team and want me to stay on. A 3rd team member and one of our team coaches seem to think that I'm good at "making things make sense".

    I agree that I can do that via writing copy, or by spitting out verbatim a prepared and rehearsed version of that copy. But I don't think I can do it just from conversation. As someone with social anxiety, conversations are my kryptonite. I just don't know what to say, and can't think of anything to say, or even think of any (intelligent or dumb) questions to ask. In conversation, my mind becomes a solid, impenetrable mass - nothing goes in, nothing goes out. Trying to think of things to say/ask without access to a mind is impossible, and I can only do my best impression of a human being as my body sends back requests for words and sentences that my brain refuses to respond to.

    So... I need to decide - is this "impression of a human being" enough to get through 6 months of meetings/pitches/conversations, from a skill level and from an emotional/stress level? Is there a safe/low-stakes way to test it to come to a decision before the decision gate? And what do I need to do to improve my "impression" enough for it to pass as good enough?

  2. #2
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    Re: How to improve my "impression of a human being"?

    That's quite a dilemma you have gooblax!

    I'm guessing there's a million questions going through your mind at this moment.
    First and foremost what is your personal evaluation of this first 3 month stage of the whole thing? Did you enjoy it?
    Secondly you state and are aware of your personal weaknesses. I think that's an asset for a team environment, don't you? If most people were aware like you are then they would stick to what they can best offer the team and work off other people's strengths and not try to over step their competencies.

    You state some want you to stay on; I see that as a really great assessment of what you actually brought to the table vs what you think you did!

    But the main question is: Do you want to personally take on the challenge? and also the opportunity to work on those weaknesses you pointed out? After all you don't learn or develop something difficult without lots of practice. Do you see this as a good opportunity to work on your social anxiety and open conversations?

    Try and be a little less subjective and more objective in your personal assessment
    ​"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." ~ Walter Winchell

  3. #3
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    Re: How to improve my "impression of a human being"?

    Also, what Albert Ellis said about overcoming his social anxiety by approaching strangers:

    "Nobody vomited and ran away. Nobody called the cops."

    Albert Ellis, 93, Influential Psychotherapist, Dies - The New York Times

  4. #4
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    Re: How to improve my "impression of a human being"?

    Personally, making mistakes and not having things go "perfectly enough" can be stressful for me, but I have some level of such anxiety/OCD every day to some extent no matter what happens. I just started a new job and even felt guilty within the first 10 minutes that I may have overlooked something (that wasn't even pertaining to my job). But honestly unless there is a very stressful work environment (such as dealing with narcissistic people or working in healthcare where people are in pain), then it's not any different for me than having OCD at home.

  5. #5
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    Re: How to improve my "impression of a human being"?

    Quote Originally Posted by GaryQ
    Try and be a little less subjective and more objective in your personal assessment
    Haha sure, a factual opinion about my personal experience Well, unfortunately I've created a word dump below...

    Quote Originally Posted by GaryQ
    First and foremost what is your personal evaluation of this first 3 month stage of the whole thing? Did you enjoy it?
    I've definitely enjoyed parts of the 3 months. Specifically:
    • learning about and getting the chance to do something completely different
    • finding a way to do some things that I enjoy doing (but didn't feel were actual employable "skills") in an employment capacity
    • learning about different ways of working, different business approaches, and the importance and application of a whole bunch of 'business stuff' that I previously thought was almost (if not entirely) irrelevant and uninteresting

    The parts that have been less enjoyable are:
    • dramas with the country/language/company/IT. These aren't about the work itself, but depending on where the team is located could continue as an issue.
    • feeling far too uninformed about the topic we're trying to work on, and struggling to retain information
    • having to do some 'internet research & summarise' tasks... boring (I'm procrastinating on one right now)
    • being 'the silent one' in meetings etc. with nothing useful to say
    • realising how much networking is involved with this type of project, and struggling with anxiety every time someone suggests that we need to have a meeting/call... or worse, if someone uses me as the 'point of introduction' to someone else!


    They wouldn't have gone out of their way to ask me to rethink about leaving if they didn't genuinely mean it. So I agree that it is some positive feedback. But it's also not fair to them or the project's success if I gradually get worse or avoid doing necessary stuff due to anxiety. And there's certainly been times during the 3 months when I've let avoidance get the best of me.

    Quote Originally Posted by GaryQ
    Do you see this as a good opportunity to work on your social anxiety and open conversations?
    It's certainly an opportunity to work on those weaknesses. But is it a 'good' opportunity?

    • Location - we don't know where it will be yet.
      • So far, it's looking like either being a different site in the same French city (which has an even worse history about giving badge access than the site I've been at for the 3 mths!), or possibly at a site in Colorado, USA. For personal reasons, I think I have my preference of those but haven't spent much time looking into this.
      • If it's only for 6mths to start with then I suppose I can rent out my unit (assuming I fix up the bathrooms first!!!). For friends/family stuff, I don't think 6mths is a big deal.

    • Business Owner - again, we don't know yet. It depends from whom we get funding (which will influence the location).
      • This will determine what internal stakeholder/s we're responsible to, i.e. who we'll have to report our stuff to and maintain a working relationship with. And what sort of working structure we'll have. So it's kind of important to find out with respect to "will I like the people I'm working with?" but for 6mths it's possible to put up with less-than-ideal people.

    • Alignment with my personal values & interests
      • I'm kind of unsure what my values are, to be honest.
      • I know I like solving problems, helping people to solve problems, using technology and learning how to 'do technology stuff' (e.g. wireframing, amateur coding). I'm not a developer so I can't take a tech role, but that leaves me back with dilemma #1 of social skills vs. other roles. If I'm in a role where I don't get to do 'tech stuff' at all then this will be a problem for me. I'm an engineer and like to do things and design ways to do things, not just talk to people about how they could do/design things.
      • I wish the topic was "cooler" than it is. The first part of the topic isn't something that really interests me (although I can see merit in it), but where it could lead is far more interesting. Based on interest level, I think I'd be more useful at a later stage in the project where we need someone for one of the future cool sub-projects. There's a slightly-cool 2nd step which is what I have to latch onto at the moment to keep my interest levels up. But having the 'longer term goal' in mind, and helping stakeholders to see it, is something that we need to stay in the project the whole time... So maybe that's where I could be useful, cause I'm all about that longer term.
      • There's a bit of a do-gooder element to the project, which has never been a big driving factor in my life before. It would be worth developing that part of myself to hopefully become a more generous and selfless person, which in turn might help me relate to other people better, and therefore help with social stuff. Win-win-win, yeah?

    • Risk: If I try to work on the weakness but make no progress, or even negative-progress
      • Job - Well, if at the end of the 6mths I'm no longer useful then I probably can't go straight back into my old job. They haven't actually decided what they're doing with that, but likely they won't hold open positions and I'll have to leave it and have nothing open to come back into. But people back at work know me, and I can always reapply next time an opening comes up. Maybe there'll even be different opportunities in a new location with the people I'll be working with. I always thought of my current 'old job' position as temporary, but definitely thought I'd stick around longer at it than I have so far.
      • Personal - I'm struggling with the current level of social anxiety stress stuff.
        • If I stay, I'll need to learn to manage this better for my health, but will it be harder to do in a (not sure which) foreign country?
        • If I go back to the old job, I'll be expected to have new skills from these 3 months, but I haven't yet figured out where I could really apply them. That in itself would be a source of stress and unknown, because maybe my old job role would have to change a bit and involve different types of interactions (although with people I already know, and those types of interactions seem a fair bit less worrisome than the 'new job' interactions). Or maybe my role wouldn't change but I'd have different expectations that were unclear and undocumented and impossible to meet. Sounds fun.
        • Also the old job wasn't exactly stress-free. I was constantly second guessing myself and my technical knowledge to satisfy job outcomes, yet the boss seemed to be confident in what I was doing. Which would be fine, except there were safety implications for other people if I got my stuff wrong. I felt like I needed far more experience to get to the level that they thought I was at, and the discrepancy was pretty worrying. The new job would be an escape route from that problem.


    And that brings me to... No decision!

    Real worst case though is that the project doesn't get sponsored and all options are off the table. So I'd best get back to it soon.

  6. #6
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    Re: How to improve my "impression of a human being"?

    Thanks for the input @Daniel.

    Speaking of things not going perfectly enough - the html pixies seem to have found this thread:
    Re: How to improve my "impression of a human being"?
    Yikes, haha.

    I think I'm slightly better at dealing with anxiety-provoking-things at work than at home, because at home there are way more excuses to avoid the problem than there are at work (when it involves something that has to be done for the good of the job/project/other-people, compared to just for me). So therefore I put on my "just suck it up and get it done" pants faster.

    But that also means there are typically fewer anxiety-provoking-things at home, because I'll just avoid them if they're not 200% necessary.

    So new job vs old job... More vs less anxiety-provoking-interactions. More chance to work on not avoiding anxiety-provoking-interactions, if I was looking for an upside.

  7. #7
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    Re: How to improve my "impression of a human being"?

    Quote Originally Posted by gooblax View Post
    They wouldn't have gone out of their way to ask me to rethink about leaving if they didn't genuinely mean it. So I agree that it is some positive feedback. But it's also not fair to them or the project's success if I gradually get worse or avoid doing necessary stuff due to anxiety. And there's certainly been times during the 3 months when I've let avoidance get the best of me.
    Procrastination and avoidance are things you can work on. But why given the positive feedback would you think you might get worse? Is this an "imposter syndrome" thing - that you think you've fooled them and they'll find out?

  8. #8
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    Re: How to improve my "impression of a human being"

    Quote Originally Posted by gooblax View Post
    Thanks for the input @Daniel.

    Speaking of things not going perfectly enough - the html pixies seem to have found this thread:

    Re: How to improve my "impression of a human being"?
    Yikes, haha.
    I noticed that. I'm not certain but I think it may be because @Daniel is posting from Tapatalk, and so far I've only seen that in Daniel's posts. Maybe the forum or Daniel needs an update on the app.

    The glitch seems to start with an attempt to change the double quote in the title to the HTML special character

    Code:
    &quote;
    Then it picked up on the & part of that and converted it to another special character, the ampersand sign:

    Code:
    &
    and then it just went nuts recursively like a dying robot in I, Robot or 2001 A Space Odyssey.

    "Dave? What are you doing Dave? Please don't do that, Dave. Da...isy Daisy give me your answerrrrrrr...."

  9. #9
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    Re: How to improve my "impression of a human being"?

    Tapatalk is so annoying.

    They periodically update their forum plugins but do you think they can be bothered to notify the forum owners or admins? Nope.

    It appears Psychlinks was probably at least 2 or 3 updates behind, but that has been rectified. We are now running the latest version. Let's see if that fixes anything and doesn't create any new problems.

  10. #10
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    Re: How to improve my "impression of a human being"?

    Thanks for the detailed breakdown gooblax!
    It really helps to understand the situation better.

    i think David raised an important point with the imposter syndrome thing.

    One important part to think about is the opportunity to discover more of this or another country and hey, PAID to go to therapy to boot! Especially if your current/previous position isn't there when you get back.

    One thing I learned in a working environment is that people rarely praise someone unless it's genuine or they are trying to dump a crappy job on you. Somehow I don't feel the latter is the case in your situation.
    ​"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." ~ Walter Winchell

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