I have sat through so many training days and team building exercises since starting work full time that they all mesh into one blur of boredom-induced hunger, stifled yawns and uncomfortable silences while facilitators wait for contributions by people who are being paid to attend.
Many of these have been about understanding my work style. Or the work style of others. Or the communication preference of others. Or the most effective way to interact. At the end of the day, I am plotted on a map, a circle, a square or some other picture that tells me what my style-preferences are and how best to engage with me. It often comes with warnings about how to go about engaging other people.
Usually about halfway through the day I start feeling irked. We have had the different categories explained to us, we understand where we are headed for the day, and inevitably the next step is people start acting up those behavioural traits they want to shine through in their results.
Those self-assigning as dominant or in control start talking louder and with more authority, those who self-assign as introverted, detail-oriented and quiet withdraw and stop participating. It is the weirdest constructed environment. The best one is when those self-assigned as anti-establishment start saying how dumb the whole thing is and how little use this process is.
I don’t dislike these days.
Rather, I am fatigued by these days.
I am fatigued by the idea that we should be trying to manipulate each other in a way that leads to getting the result we want.
It can be argued that we are just optimising our interaction.
It can be argued that we are just trying to understand ourselves and get the best personal outcome that we can.
But when it comes to those days I don’t really buy that.
I have often joked that job interviews would be better if they were just a drone following people around for a week to see their communication skills, their ability to coordinate, their dedication to the role and their passion on the topic.
I do seriously think that people typically perform best when they are in a non-threatening, natural environment and allowed to find their own pace.
I think it’s good to be self-reflective, and also aware of how we engage with each other.
We just shouldn’t be taking these assessments to the point where we are engineering our conversations.
Setting our colleagues and friends up to get the outcome we want.
Engaging those stakeholders that we know will give us the result that we want.
If we do these things we miss the opportunity to have our ideas, feelings and beliefs challenged. By challenging those things we can validate and justify them, or else build on what we have learnt to pivot and shift our understanding.
If we spend every interaction of every day trying to get our most desired outcome, we may miss out on experiencing something that we would greatly enjoy, or having our mind changed for the better, or learning something we wouldn’t otherwise have learnt.
Being curious is a positive thing.
Learning ourselves is a positive thing.
I believe it’s possible to experience both things.