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Paul Tevis

Entries in adventures of an introspective extrovert (2)

Friday
Mar232018

What Am I Trying To Say?

I’m a little obsessed with Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton’s “Say Something” right now, in part because of this amazing video.

Here’s a snippet of the lyrics, which is what really has me thinking.

Everyone knows all about my direction
And in my heart somewhere I wanna go there
Still I don’t go there
Everybody says “say something”
Say something, say something
Then say something, say something, then say something
I don’t wanna get caught up in the rhythm of it
But I can’t help myself, no, I can’t help myself, no, no
Caught up in the middle of it
Maybe I’m looking something that I can’t have 
Everyone knows all about my transgressions
Still in my heart somewhere, there’s melody and harmony
For you and me, tonight (whoa)
I hear them call my name
Everybody says “say something”
Then say something, say something
Then say something, say something then say something
I don’t want to get caught up in the rhythm of it
Sometimes the greatest the way to say something is to say nothing at all
Sometimes the greatest the way to say something is to say nothing
I’ve written before about my extroverted tendencies. I absolutely do get caught up in the rhythm of it. Recently, I’ve been trying to be more mindful about asking myself: “Why am I talking?” (The acronym W.A.I.T. is useful for this.) What am I actually trying to say? What change am I hoping to bring about? And is my talking actually part of the problem?
That last question has been on my mind because I’ve been involving myself more and in more in discussions around inclusion, diversity, and equity. And by involving myself, I mostly mean listening. Sure, there will be times when it is useful for me to say something. Most of the time, in those spaces, I need to make room for others to talk about their experience, without arguing, without questioning, and without discounting - particularly when it is difficult for me to hear it. 
Because sometimes the greatest the way to say something is to say nothing at all.

 

Wednesday
Sep132017

Adventures of an Introspective Extrovert, Part 1 in an Ongoing Series

If parts of five weeks on the road don’t teach you something about yourself, I’m not sure what will.

In my case, what it taught me was how my extroverted tendencies show up under stress and in environments of learning and growth, and how to deal with that. Starting with the Agile Conference in Orlando at the beginning of August, I was been from home at lot, mostly in training and learning environments. Thankfully, I’m home for next few weeks, and I’ve been able to spend some time reflecting on the experience.

Now, I generally use “extroverted” and “introverted” in their Jungian sense, i.e. our tendencies either to gain energy from or to expend energy to interact with other people and the outside world. (This is the roughly same way the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator uses them, which how I was initially exposed to the concepts.) One of the ways my extroverted tendencies show up is that I recharge by hanging out with people and talking about stuff with them; another is that I often need to talk through new ideas in order to fully absorb them. (This latter phenomena is sometimes called “external processing,” and while I don’t have to do it for everything, learning is one of the arenas in which I need it the most.) A side effect of these tendencies is that it takes energy for me to sit quietly, particularly when learning new things.

This means that by the third day of a great three-day workshop, I can’t shut up.

Fortunately for those around me (and especially those with introverted tendencies), I’ve figured out that this happens to me, and I spent a good chunk of these trips experimenting with some ways of mitigating it. Getting more sleep helps, eating intelligently helps, not over-indulging in alcohol helps, having one-on-one conversations helps, and – surprisingly to me – exercise helps. One of the things that carried me through this stretch of time was getting out for a run on as many days of these conferences as I could. Somehow, that processing time – even though it was going on inside my head – settled me down. I think my fellow attendees appreciated it.

I realize that my experience is far from universal. I’m curious: How do you deal with your tendencies in a training environment or when you’re traveling?