Thursday, March 3, 2011

Stop The Knowledge, I Want To Get Off!

I like people who are always learning. I like learning. Therefore I like me.

At least, that's how it should go.

The thing is that I do like learning. I read voraciously, from management and self help books to fiction to magazines. I did one of those personality tests recently for work and one of the things it told me was that I'm the sort of person who thinks "time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted".

How true, I thought. There's a whole page of narrative about me, but one of the most accurate parts was the line above, how I like to research things and I keep quiet until I feel that I've gathered the information I need to before I venture forth with my opinions. Or fifth.

This sometimes makes me feel as if I lack a certain confidence compared to others. I see people who walk into a room full of strangers and appear calm, confident and illuminating and I wish I was one such fellow. Often when I meet strangers I go a bit tongue tied and appear shy. But then, once I get to know people and measure them up, I feel more relaxed and confident.

And this learning thing feels to me as if it's a continual and ongoing process, as if I'm always doing it, sometimes learning what not to do just as much as what to do, which is different to vut too doo. I'm forty five these days, so I'm told, and there are times when I think that it would be nice to put a bit of a lid on things, to say that I've done the knowledge, now I'm going to go out there and apply things.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Because I met a fellow the other day who made me stop in my tracks and think. It was at a meeting and I guess he's in his late twenties, possibly early thirties. He's clearly quite a nice intelligent guy, with some good ideas and a very good and positive energy and manner. But, he wouldn't shut up. It was his first time with this group and, instead of listening, measuring up the people, the dynamics of the group and the way we operate, as I'm sure I would have done, he spent much of the time talking, mostly about himself.

I let him talk. I was aware that he was taking up time but felt like an old wise owl letting the youngster have his fun before reeling him in.

And when you're talking you're not listening. When you're not listening you're not learning. And when you're not learning you're not moving forward and progressing. Which is a bit shit really, isn't it?

It's a rummy old thing that the people who know me would probably disagree with my perception of myself as someone who's a bit shy and lacking in confidence. But the thing is that they, by definition, are people who know me and who I therefore feel far more confident with.

So what do you think?

Is it good to bluff it and pretend that I'm far more knowledgeable than I actually am?

Or is it better to be a bit quiet but try to listen and learn?

Or should I read a book about it?


Marc said...

a bit of humility never hurt anyone. I share your view that we are always learning, and I believe that we can learn something from anyone whatever their position in life.

PseudoRandom said...

I know I give a very negative first impression when I'm in an unfamiliar group...I'm quiet and shy and I generally observe the group dynamic. People take this to mean that I'm reserved or proud, but in reality I'm just seeing what makes those people tick. Like you, my friends and family have a completely different view of what I'm like.

I know a lot of people feel that by jabbering on incessantly and bullshitting their way through a conversation, they can impress others, but I find such people insufferable. So I guess it's just a personality thing.

And as for those people that appear 'calm, confident and illuminating'...think of a swan - calm above the surface, but paddling like mad underneath. They probably think the same about you.

Bimal said...

Definitely listen and learn. I hate the type who goes on with the sales pitch even when they know we are not buying.

BTW, did you reel in that poor fella?

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Pseudo - It certainly sounds like you and I have some similar characteristics. I think I'm more like a duck than a swan!

Bimal - Well, I didn't reel him in, just tried to let him have his way a bit but also moved the meeting on when it got too much. As a salesperson myself I love a good salesperson and hate a bad one!