Risk Talking

Introverts lack social tact on what to say and when to say it. That’s a benefit. Introverts gain the advantage over those who can’t stop talking: We surprise and shock others when we do talk.

When I feel it’s time to express myself, sometimes I give it a second thought, but that’s where I draw the line. Then I just do it and live with the fun or consequences. These are the things that make life exciting.

After waiting more than a year, I expressed something to someone because I wanted an answer. It wasn’t gentle and I got that answer, even if it wasn’t what I had hoped to hear. I may have awoken something in her. I may have shaken a monkey off my back: that I have been holding myself back from taking risks.

It’s a challenge for introverts to gauge timing, which is a big part of social tact. Saying something you feel is important, and others feel shocked, can hurt a lot. It often makes you not want to express yourself anymore. You feel misunderstood, not important, and all that depressive crap.

I won’t drag on with all that. What I will do is go into how not having tact is a blessing.

By not having all that social tact, you are actually more free to express yourself than people who adhere to the unwritten, unexplained rules of communication. You’re free because you’re not holding your thoughts and timing to a standard, situation, or method of delivery.

Often people like to ask me why I don’t talk often. I just don’t. It’s not something I practice, so therefore, it’s not something I do. It’s not that I’m not a good communicator: it’s that I don’t inhibit my communication when I do talk.

Then they say, well, that’s not polite to just say what you want. Truth is, it’s more polite to be honest, because honesty builds trust. Even if it hurts. Changing what you say and how you say it is along the same lines as lying. The risk here is that you’re slowly building up walls of dishonesty, waiting to crumble down at a later date.

I’d rather be honest, shocking, and have people resent that, than to be surrounded with fake people who can’t express themselves.

You don’t have to be nice about it. Sometimes, people need to know you’re not feeling happy with something. Enough of this nonsense of everyone hiding their bad feelings so everyone has a good time, and everything is just fucking fine.

I want to love a woman I know. I want to support her and make love to her every day. I want her to be strong and independent, and still be loved by someone. If I didn’t say anything, if I didn’t take the risks, she would still only have a few clues as to how I feel.

So, the other day, I said screw it, and told her exactly how I felt. Yes, it hurt, and yes, it may have caused some friction that perhaps wasn’t there to begin with. Or maybe it gave light to that friction, and made her finally express what she wants and doesn’t want to me. Maybe she needed that.

I’ll never know, unless she’s willing to take those risks with talking with me. In my experience, women don’t do that, cause they’re just as afraid as I’ve been. It’d be a real surprise, and would restore my faith in people if she did.

Software Engineering Made Me Smarter

I design systems for growth and to solve real world problems. What that means to the layman is, I get the job done, and I do it well. By connecting information, I discover and create tools that enable actions to improve professional and personal lives. Through fifteen years of software development, I’ve gained powerful insight to how people communicate and use the knowledge they gain from information.

This may sound like a sales pitch or a resume, but let me be clear: I am giving you insight into how my mind works; why I am effective in my work; why people enjoy my company. I find opportunities to connect the dots, to see the puzzle’s picture without looking at the box it came in, without expecting a solution to just land in my lap.

Connecting Information

I practice connecting information, in form and context, establishing relationships to bring about meaning. I realized this habit of mine halfway through college, and improve it daily. It’s a habit I’m thankful to have.

When I connect information, the focus of a large picture becomes clearer. I understand why one thing affects another, and why another thing would be irrelevant. This is often generalized as logic, reason, and math skills, that most normal people possess. I think of it as something better: a way to connect people and their behavior for improving lives.

A connected universe, world, or relationship, of actions, that share not only interests, but a purpose. Content and meaning combined in harmony. Realizing this picture for others is what I do to make a living. Each day, I connect the dots as a goal, my reason for work, and to grow myself and those around me.

I can feel my mind growing when I find patterns of related information between two things or processes. It motivates me to find more connections, and put those connections to use.

Creating Tools for Action

Tools that don’t solve a problem are useless. You wouldn’t hammer a screw to get the same result, just as you wouldn’t use an application that didn’t deliver what you expect.

In my work history, I find terrible implementations of otherwise great ideas, and fix them. People who didn’t know what they were doing and staved off getting fired, simply by finding a way to hold their employer by their neck. In IT, you find it happens more often then you’d like. My job would be boring without it.

That’s where I fix things, with honesty and integrity, so my employer can get back to what they do best: solving problems for their customers, and turning a profit. The tools I create have to work well, and by that, they have to be honest, truthful, and allow their users to take action.

If a time clock didn’t capture punches correctly, an employee’s budget will be off. When an employee’s budget is off, they can’t pay their bills on time. When one can’t pay their bills on time, creditors come by, canceling services and taking things away. If, however, that time clock worked correctly, one of two things happens: either the employee’s budget is correct, or we find an employee who has been abusing the time clock, thus abusing their employer’s trust.

Being able to connect information together allows me to create better tools. Tools that not only are fun to develop, but fulfilling to watch in action. I can experience pride knowing my efforts allow a business to succeed, be it to allow customers to place orders or something as simple as showing a raffle ticket number on a large screen.

Connecting Communication

The best, and often most amusing, benefit of connecting information, is when it applies to how people communicate; how they interpret the spoken word vs the written word; how people respond to non-verbal cues; how people feel safer being anonymous, for better or worse.

Spoken Word vs Written Word

People are prone to respond based on the emotion they feel. When spoken, it’s a transaction between the emotions of the speaker and the listener. When written, it’s mostly a reaction to the reader’s emotions.

Consider the phrase, “No way.” Spoken in an even tone, it conveys the message that the person is either saying, “no, I don’t want that,” politely, or “I need more evidence to believe you.” However, when the emphasis is put on either word, the meaning of the message changes.

“No WAY,” where the speaker puts more emphasis on “WAY”, it is interpreted as, “I’m amazed that just happened because I can hardly believe it was real.” (Watch Bill and Ted, you’ll understand.)

However, if the emphasis is put on the word “NO”, as in “NO way,” it means, “That is absolutely not going to happen, no matter what you do.” Rejection 101.

Three different emotions are conveyed. The first, “No way,” is one of a polite exchange in reasonable understanding. The second, “No WAY,” is how a child would react at something new they’ve never seen before, and is thus amazed. The third, “NO way,” is how a parent or child might react, in a means to protect themselves from a supposed threat.

Using this same phrase in the written word, we find that, either way it is written, it is difficult to interpret the emotion the writer wanted to convey.

The emotion from reading is often a reflection of the reader, not the writer. A crafty writer worth the ink in his pen will know how to control a reader’s emotion, often by tapping in to relative experience.

Thus, understanding this connection of how information is perceived, I know for certainty that developing relationships using the spoken word is vastly more effective than the written word. Could be why online dating is filled with guys who don’t know how to write but send endless messages anyway, and women have difficulty finding the “good ones” amongst the flood of terrible ones.

Supporting Others and Myself

A supportive view is what we need when we feel stuck on something. When I design software, and I’m sure it will work, and then it doesn’t, I can get a bit annoyed when I struggle for the answer. As an engineer I can’t run off expecting others to solve the problem for me; my skills would not be what they are if I did.

This insight has allowed me to discover what makes a relationship work: be supportive to help others grow, but never take the reigns from them. In the spirit of the coming holiday season, “Everyone wants to drive Santa’s sleigh.”

I’ve learned to ask questions that reveal connections of information, and when that happens, the solution arrives. The same can be said when supporting your friends, family, or lover. Don’t tell them what to do, help them find the answer themselves. When we arrive at an answer ourselves, we’re more likely to believe it and use it to motivate ourselves to action. It’s ours. We own it. And, those you support, will remember that you were there for them.

The key to any fulfilling relationship is to grow each other through support and sharing in knowledge and experience. So many of us do this in our professional lives, but don’t apply it in our personal lives. Father coming home after work and saying he’s tired, wants a beer, and doesn’t want to talk to anyone, certainly isn’t making many friends out of his family.

The skills I’ve learned as an engineer may seem like they don’t belong in love and relationships, but honestly, they are the best skills you can apply. The ability to connect information, such as one’s emotions with behavior and thoughts, far outweighs any blind trust and hope that “love conquers all.”

I listen openly to others, and I help them connect the dots. This is support at it’s best. It’s giving someone the opportunity to grow, become stronger, and tackle the problem head on without worry, if it comes around again. It gives them the strength that the problem won’t even be a problem.

Embrace connecting information. I do it every day, and it gives me satisfaction knowing I help solve real world problems, by giving the tools and understanding of information that would otherwise be choas.