Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Half stories

Networking is not one of my strong points.

I can get in front of a group of people and make a speech but unless someone makes me a deliberate gap I find it very difficult to work my way into group conversations with any more than 3 people. If the other two people are talkative and extroverted even 3 is difficult.

Last night I got to go to a networking dinner with a small group of fellow advocates. I enjoyed it but I didn't say a whole lot compared to some of the other people there. I left that encounter and found myself reflecting on the fact that even when I got asked questions I didn't tend to finish what I would have liked to say before the conversation moved on.

I got to say that I didn't really grow up with pets but not that I do like animals, that I suspect I'm a "dog person" and would like to have a pet of my own someday and find out. I got to mention that my former significant relationship ended but not to provide an example of why it was a good thing it did and how it might influence where my life is heading. I imagine the second part of that can make the different between coming across as 'sad' or 'disinterested' and coming across as 'interesting' and 'determined'. 

If I only ever yell half-stories do people only ever get to see "half" of me? Do I only come across as "half" a person? Do people just assume the rest of the story is much the same as the introduction, before it goes to a place of wisdom, passion or hope? I imagine that "half" of someone is hard to get to know and feel like you could see yourself becoming friends with that person. I'm sure that none of us wants to appear one dimensional, as we are all vibrant and multifaceted wholes.

When I was little what I remember about my approach to people (particularly those older than me because I wasn't one who really saw people my own age as my peers when I was starting school) was that it was somewhat like a mini cyclone plowing into the middle of someone else's conversation with what I wanted to say. I was told to stop interrupting a lot of times as a kid and as an adult I don't always speak up because I know that by the time I realise there is a gap in conversation that someone else will have started speaking half a second before I can and I will be perceived as rude. 

I listen intently to the conversations I am in, not wanting anyone to go unheard of misunderstood which leaves me less cognitive room to prepare what I want to say. Sometimes this means I will say something related to the conversation three topics ago because that's where that part of my brain is up to and I need to say something of what I had to say on that topic to be able to move on. So the end result of this is that I am very polite in conversation, but that rarely leads to me saying very much. This can lead me to feeling like I've wasted opportunities to get to know people and to be known myself.

I don't get bitter about it or live in some kind of state of constant regret, but I do sometimes wonder how life would be different if my quirks and personality allowed me to be better known through these kinds of conversations. I'd like to think that most people would like me if given the chance to actually get to know me properly.

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