• Quote of the Day
    "The voice of negativity says, 'Get real'. The voice of possibility says 'Get started'."
    Donna Satchell, posted by littlerabbit

gooblax

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The situation with the teammate is tricky. It's really a timing and ambiguity thing. To be fair, the outcome he wants is probably the outcome that is best for the project itself, but the way he explains the point makes it sound like it is (and probably actually is) for a different personal reason.

Now my issue with that outcome is the timing and what it means for me personally. But it's also not an outcome that our "best chance potential sponsor" has put on the table. We discussed it with him (the teammate repeating his point, and this time I added a bit from my situation just so it wasn't only one picture being presented) but the sponsor shut down that avenue.

However it doesn't mean that the avenue won't be reopened by someone else. I've never dealt with this level of management or company politics before but it's basically "Nothing's off the table unless you run out of people to convince to put it on".

@Gary for question 1, yes (and I have to almost immediately anyway because of visa stuff).
Question 2 - no one knows. No one even knows who will make that decision yet.
 

GaryQ

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Well the important thing is you get a break from being gone from home for so long and it's winter Down Under so you shouldn't have to worry about any magpie swooping attacks.

I hope your return home goes really smoothly from today till you land in your bed. I think you had enough adventures for now ;)
 

gooblax

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GaryQ said:
and it's winter Down Under so you shouldn't have to worry about any magpie swooping attacks.
LOL at least not until late August... :panic:
GaryQ said:
I hope your return home goes really smoothly from today till you land in your bed. I think you had enough adventures for now
Thanks.
 

gooblax

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I've been thinking about this some more, and am back to the issue raised in the original post of this thread.
I am sick of being afraid and letting fear hold me back.
I am afraid because my brain doesn't work well enough in conversations. I don't have enough reserved knowledge to have anything to draw from, on any topic at all. And even then my recall is just far too slow. I could spend all my time trying to learn things but then if I can't bring them to mind fast enough and figure out a way to add them to the conversation then what's the point?
It honestly feels like a hopeless situation. I'm just not meant to have normal relationships with anyone.
 

David Baxter

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I am afraid because my brain doesn't work well enough in conversations. I don't have enough reserved knowledge to have anything to draw from, on any topic at all. And even then my recall is just far too slow. I could spend all my time trying to learn things but then if I can't bring them to mind fast enough and figure out a way to add them to the conversation then what's the point?

In a world filled with a cacophony of human, animal, and machine noise, and a hundred conversations a minute all around you in social areas and on social media, all expressing opinions that are often based on little evidence or are just plain wrong, there is considerable value in being a good listener. Perhaps if you stopped worrying about what to say and just listened you would feel a lot less anxious and could just enjoy the experience. Unless it's a direct question (and you can always say, "I don't know" to those), don't be misled into assuming those doing the talking actually want to hear what anyone has to say.

An extreme example, perhaps: I was stuck in the laundry the other day with a woman going on about medical experiences, the medical profession, and medications, basically complaining and bragging about how she knew more than most doctors. Every now and then I tried to interject some information or simply to disagree with what she was saying but she just talked over me. I really wasn't interested in having that conversation anyway so I just pulled out my iPad and started playing a game. She continued prattling on without me, evidently enjoying her "conversation" oblivious to the fact that I wasn't and wasn't even in it.
 

gooblax

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But I'm not any good at listening either. Especially active listening, where I'm supposed to be able to come up with questions to find out more (I can't think of questions), or rephrase what they're saying to confirm (it sounds stupid to do that, unless there's difficulty hearing each other or they're making a detailed explanation rather than just general info).
I can get away with "mm hmm, ah OK" conversations where the other person is doing a monologue but as you mention they're rarely going to be enjoyable for those on the receiving end of the monologue.
 

David Baxter

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I don't think you need to use "active listening" strategies unless there's some indication the other person is expecting that, as in a relationship conflict.

In other scenarios, if the other person looks like they're expecting something and you're not sure what they're expecting, try, "I'm sorry... could you say that again?". If you think you know what they're expecting, try, "I don't know" or "Sorry, I don't know what to tell you".
 

gooblax

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Ok for example...

Me - "What did you do on the weekend?"
Them - "I did this thing with some people and xyz."
Me - unable to contribute anything to the conversation such as "oh you did a thing? I've always wanted to do a thing but never did it because abc. How did you handle abc?" or "that thing is great, how did you first get into doing a thing?" or any number of other conversation continuation strategies that would give the other person the impression that they were talking to a live person.

Or any other basic information exchange. They might as well be talking to a stuffed toy.
 
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David Baxter

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Ok for example...

Me - "What did you do on the weekend?"

Is that you starting a conversation? If so, too specific. I would just use a generic and noncommittal "Hi, how are you?" and leave it at that unless the other person wants to take it further. If you start the conversation, then you have committed to continuing it to some extent.

Them - "I did this thing with some people and xyz."
Me - unable to contribute anything to the conversation such as "oh you did a thing? I've always wanted to do a thing but never did it because abc. How did you handle abc?" or "that thing is great, how did you first get into doing a thing?" or any number of other conversation continuation strategies that would give the other person the impression that they were talking to a live person.

How about, "oh that sounds like fun", rather than personalizing it? Unless you are intentionally trying to keep the conversation going. Even then, why is it your responsibility? Why not leave the responsibility up to the other person?

Or any other basic information exchange. They might as well be talking to a stuffed toy.

I think you are excessively self-critical.
 

gooblax

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Is that you starting a conversation? If so, too specific. I would just use a generic and noncommittal "Hi, how are you?" and leave it at that unless the other person wants to take it further. If you start the conversation, then you have committed to continuing it to some extent.
Well it's not necessarily me starting the convo. But it can easily and often does get there when I don't start it (hi, how's it going? good thanks, you? yeah good what'd you get up to this weekend? not much, how about you? ... and we're back in that same situation).

David Baxter said:
How about, "oh that sounds like fun", rather than personalizing it? Unless you are intentionally trying to keep the conversation going. Even then, why is it your responsibility? Why not leave the responsibility up to the other person?
Well sure those closed replies are easy, but I can't exclusively give closed replies while the other person pulls more than their fair share of the convo. Routine conversations that I've seen people have go for a few minutes rather than dying off straight up like that. And what if I'm stuck with that person in a situation that lasts for more than a few minutes? That sort of response, constantly used, is super awkward and unpleasant for both conversation participants.

David Baxter said:
I think you are excessively self-critical.
On this topic I disagree. I had direct feedback on this from a friend from university a couple of years ago. I was spending a bit of time with them 1:1 while walking to the train station, and had been really trying to keep the conversation going. After a while they remarked that it was "like talking to a normal person". This was with significant effort on my part. So with significant effort, familiarity with the person, common shared experiences, career, some shared interests, and probably a bit of luck - with all of that going for me, I have the potential to come across like a normal person. And notably this was an improvement from my normal conversations.
 

GaryQ

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I can see that as being difficult but I really can’t relate. I’m not great at initiating conversations with strangers but my curiosity and enjoyment of hearing and learning about people and their experiences enables me to have a long fruitful conversation with someone. If someone raises a subject I know nothing about I express the fact that I know a bit about some things and a lot about others but I know absolutely nothing about that. Which the other person if knowledgeable and especially passionate about the particular subject will be more than happy to engage and tell you all you need to know. And voila you get to learn a bit about something new.
 

David Baxter

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Well sure those closed replies are easy, but I can't exclusively give closed replies while the other person pulls more than their fair share of the convo. Routine conversations that I've seen people have go for a few minutes rather than dying off straight up like that. And what if I'm stuck with that person in a situation that lasts for more than a few minutes? That sort of response, constantly used, is super awkward and unpleasant for both conversation participants.

On this topic I disagree. I had direct feedback on this from a friend from university a couple of years ago. I was spending a bit of time with them 1:1 while walking to the train station, and had been really trying to keep the conversation going. After a while they remarked that it was "like talking to a normal person". This was with significant effort on my part. So with significant effort, familiarity with the person, common shared experiences, career, some shared interests, and probably a bit of luck - with all of that going for me, I have the potential to come across like a normal person. And notably this was an improvement from my normal conversations.

I think it's important to distinguish between "small talk" - greeting co-workers or neighbors and saying the usual stock things - and a real conversation, one that you actually want to have and that is about something that interests you.

I really don't "do" small talk. I mean, I can do it if I really need to but it doesn't interest me, I don't enjoy it, and consequently I generally avoid it. If I'm in a group that is engaging in small talk, I leave it to others. If it's just one other person, I make the obligatory responses and leave the responsibility for continuing it to the other person.

You say that feels "super awkward and unpleasant for both conversation participants". I suggest that this is your perception and not necessarily true for both people; it is awkward for you because you are desperately trying to think of something to say and coming up empty. Since you define that to yourself as "not normal", you feel awkward, socially unskilled, and responsible for the other person's presumed feelings. And I think you will find that any awkwardness on the part of the other person stems more from the fact that you feel awkward and uncomfortable. That is what makes other people feel awkward and uncomfortable, not your lack of words.

I get that. That would be me in my teens and 20s. But then I came to the realization that this wasn't really about something I couldn't do; it was about something I didn't want to do. So except where it was essential to a goal or a job/task that I needed to do, I just stopped doing it.

Did that lead other people to view me as awkward? Possibly but that's not the feedback I got from other people's behavior or from friends seeing me in various social settings. It actually (surprisingly to me) led most people to view me as somewhat mysterious, intellectual/intelligent, and a bit aloof - but generally in a positive way. If I have something to say, I say it. If I have an opinion on a topic being discussed, I voice it. If I spontaneously think of something to inject into the conversation, I will do that. If not, I stay quiet. Not awkward and quiet. Just quiet. I think most people in my life and career respected that rather than feeling awkward about it.

And the irony of taking this stance is that, because I am now more relaxed about it, if I sense shyness or awkwardness in another person I can and will engage in a limited amount of small talk, usually directed at the situation or the other person, to put them at ease. Because I am no longer trying so hard to come up with something interesting to say, I feel relaxed and that in turn helps the other person.

I also use humor at times, sometimes situational humor, sometimes even self-deprecating humor. That is a technique I have used since adolescence. It relaxes me and I think helps to relax others.

But the most important lesson from all this (i.e., from what I have learned over many years and many experiences) is that most of my earlier perceptions about being socially awkward were self-perceptions, self-critical self-perceptions, and the best remedy for that was to stop taking responsibility for other people.
 

GaryQ

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David makes a very good point. Well a lot but humor makes people laugh and breaks ice better than anything.

and if there’s someone I know that has a lot of funny stories it’s definitely you gooblax.
example: how are you - I’m doing ok considering the jet lag. - oh how was your flight? - went well until I opened the wrong door thinking it was the washroom :) then a giggle then a relaxed situation
 

gooblax

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David Baxter said:
a real conversation, one that you actually want to have and that is about something that interests you
I can't even imagine what that would look like, and can't think of any examples of having participated in one of these. I don't know enough about anything to sustain a real conversation about it.


Maybe the problem is that it's one and the same problem for me regardless of the conversation.
Not caring about being silent could work for some situations but not others, like in an work situation where finding out information and building on ideas with people could open opportunities - the type of situation I'm expecting to have when I return to work (unless I choose not to bring back anything I've learned from the past 3 months), or especially would have had if I'd continued with the other project.
All these conversations feel the same to me.


I think I understand what you're saying, but it really just feels like a lost cause.
 

Daniel

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BTW:

In the beam of imaginary spotlights, many of us suffer untold shame and create smaller, weaker, less zestful lives than we deserve...

When Lincoln said, "The world will little note nor long remember what we say here," he was wrong—but only because he was president of the United States. If you are currently president, rest assured that millions will note and long remember if, say, you barf on the prime minister of Japan. However, if you are not president, you're probably pointlessly blinded by the glare of imaginary social judgments...

In the long run, people most often regret the things they failed to try, rather than the things they bombed at. Trying yields either success or an opportunity to learn; not trying has no positive result besides avoiding mockery or envy that (research shows) wouldn't be nearly as big or bad as we fear.

Overcoming the spotlight effect
 

gooblax

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I'm thinking of using a couple of sessions with the employee assistance program to try and get to the bottom of this.
Do you think anything could come of that?
I've never used it in the past because of the unfriendly website booking system. It only lets you specify name, some job details, work site location by city, then asks for preferred location by state, and preferred time. It provides no details about what actual physical locations one may need to be able to get to. Since I don't drive this information is crucial for me to decide what time. The other option is doing it by phone only, but I don't think that represents a proper conversing situation (and phone calls make me nervous )
 

David Baxter

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I don't see how it can hurt, @gooblax.

The website situation is unfortunate but unfortunately EAP businesses are often like that. They typically contract with a large number of businesses in various locations, and then they subcontract with part-time providers in or near those locations.

Be aware that most clinicians hired by EAP firms tend to be new in the business and tend not to stay very long, or only long enough for them to secure better positions elsewhere. The EAP firms don't pay very well, have a lot of ethically dubious restrictions on the need to end services after a specified number of sessions (whether or not the presenting problems have been resolved) and require an excessive amount of paperwork from providers. Thus, the better therapists tend to move on as soon as they are able.
 

Daniel

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Therapy has become a cash business. Having said that, one of my favorite therapists worked at a county clinic in the middle of nowhere. So you never know.
 

GaryQ

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It's paid for.
You could use help.
What you got to lose?

I think you should take advantage of it.
 

Daniel

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And I think with social anxiety, therapy can be inherently beneficial since it is a social activity, even over the phone.
 
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