Monday, January 4, 2010

Yakkity yak all around

Several years ago, a consultant was employed by my previous employer to conduct one of those Myers-Briggs personality profiling tests on us. The test determines what sort of person we are inclined to be, presumably if removed from the pressures of stepping up to (and in some cases stepping down to) a particular archetype required in your chosen line of work. As expected, one of my parameters showed that I tended towards introversion. No surprises there. I didn't really need a test to tell me that. In fact, I was a consultant myself for most of my career, and I needed to step up from my introversion to succeed as a consultant. So I did. But that did not change my inclination to introversion. That's what off-duty hours are for, aren't they? They're for us to spring back to our natural selves.

What the consultant told me in a follow-up session though was quite insightful (even if it was probably just something she got off a standard script she follows for these sessions). She told me that I am self-sufficient. It was such an obvious implication of being introverted but still quite an eye-opener to me at the time. Indeed, it is likely that she meant not me in particular. I'd say it's a no-brainer that most introverts are self-sufficient. Why else would we be introverts? If we weren't so we'd be dependent on constant human interaction for our "energy" (using the Myers-Briggs jargon I learned from those sessions). Instead, I find that I am able to lose myself in my own thoughts and sort things out pretty much on my own.

Trouble is, I live in a world of yakkity-yak. At work, I'm surrounded by colleagues who need to be "walked through" or, the worse version of this concept, "talked through" documents I produced which I took great pains to make as concise and intuitive to behold as possible. A lot of times I feel like being a smart-arse and ask them, "Ok, what part of the document don't you understand?" just to see if they even tried to read it. Actually I have responded in such a manner many times -- of course in the softly-softly way consistent with the people-person archetype that employers expect their people to align themselves with nowadays. Lately, well actually after two years in my current gig, people I deal with at work respond less to my emails now. Presumably it's because my emails are masterpieces of water-tight written communication. I'd also like to think that I get responded to only with the most pertinent of questions -- a testament to the reality that 90% of meetings and probably 70% of phone calls (both by my personal reckoning) in the workplace are unnecessary (refer to my beef with all that in a previous post).

Home is another matter. Home is where my life being a life of have to (Steve Martin's character in the movie Parenthood beat me to the concept by 20 years) is most in my face. I'm the go-to person at home, the guy who knows how to program the appliances, navigate all the remotes, and sort out the computer when it acts up. I'm the guy who gets asked all the hard questions by my son (because I have an extensive track record of not dismissing his questions as "too hard"), the guy who my daughter can use as a punching bag when she is on one of her indignation rampages, and the guy who's got the spatial processing faculties to optimise our dishwasher load.

Much of what alerts me to (and more often reminds me of) all of the above responsibilities and have-to's come in the form of yakkity-yak.

That's my personal reward for being "self-sufficient". I get relied upon in return and constantly reminded of that fact. No mercy.

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