I hate crowds.
Rather, I struggle to interface with more than one person at a time. (I was going to refine that thought to say only during professional situations – conferences, donor dinners, and the like – but when I examine it I have the same issues at a cookout or a big family dinner, too. So there you have it.)
It’s not the fact that I’m particularly shy, or that I’m afraid of new things. It’s the constant ADD of many of the situations. People! Microphone issues! Four simultaneous conversations, each with interesting words, all within 2 feet of me! Awkward small talk – let me check my phone/email/pda to extricate myself!
Yes, I’m obviously an introvert. But I love people – I would just prefer to meet and talk with them one at a time. I can get a better bead on who they are, what’s important to them, where we intersect when I can focus on just one person. (And I’d also like to think that they walk away knowing who I am in a fuller sense.)
Lifehacker posted an article by Michael Lopp a few days ago about listening, and most of the ways that we don’t do it. I am seriously as guilty as anyone of these errors – jumping in too soon, not asking enough dumb questions, letting ambiguity hang out there in the air – or worse, pushing past it.
I realize that, with pals and such, I make listening a priority…but I don’t often transition that over to my professional conversations. When I do? Those are the conversations that do indeed make me feel closer to a teammate or colleague – they do build trust.
Note to self: more eye contact, more dumb questions, less talking.