Posts Tagged 'communication'

Little Ironies

collaboration pieces

It is one of life’s ironies that we are often called upon to do exactly that which we personally find least appealing. I am a collaborator, not a competitor. I made that decision many, many years ago when I realized that I was a very poor competitor. If I was in anything that could be considered a contest, I HAD TO WIN. If I didn’t win, life was sour, the sky was dark, there was no joy in Mudville. Not only that, but I found that if I was in a contest but not really caring for some reason, it made me nuts to be playing with other people who HAD TO WIN. (Remind me to tell you the story of the time I attended a class in how to play Bridge.) I basically stopped playing games altogether, with the exception of computer solitaire. 🙂 I don’t care if I win that or not – I mostly use it to go into a zen state of reflection. It isn’t the winning – it’s the semi-automatic, mindless movement of cards, while I let my brain wander. As a matter of fact, if I find myself starting to really pay attention to what I’m doing, it’s a bit disconcerting. It feels like I’ve wandered through the looking glass because it LOOKS familiar but with a different light and perspective. 🙂

So I’m a collaborator. I realized with my latest project at work that I’m a certain kind of collaborator. I want to collaborate on MY terms. I’m a collaborator who does not actually like working with other people. *grin* I HATE group projects. I hated them in school, loathed them in graduate school, and had issues with them at work if my work depended on what someone else was doing. Yes, I’m a collaborator who doesn’t like to collaborate. *grin* What I like doing is teaching and helping and explaining and figuring out what I might design to help others do their work more productively. I burned out teaching, however, so I can’t do that full-time. I knew that the day I stood in front of my (paying) students and literally said “I KNOW how to use this system. I don’t need this class. You all can either pay attention and I’ll teach you or you can waste the time and go back to your jobs and explain that you don’t know how to run the system.” After that class I went to my manager and said that perhaps it was time to have someone else teach the clients. *grin* I’m a teacher who only wants to teach if I can wash my hands and walk away when the students get too annoying. (I won’t argue if you are starting to think I’m a bit of a princess.)

Someone asked for my “help” in running his project this year. It was about communication and collaboration and data storage. Okay, I can do that – I’m all about those things (on my terms, of course). Huh. It turned out that his idea of “help” meant running the project. Running a project means my work is dependent on what other people do. Even worse – it means that I am also, should the need arise, the one responsible for inspiring the others to do work. Now did I say ANYWHERE here that I am a LEADER??? NO, I did NOT. I am NOT a leader and I am not a visionary. I think I may have mentioned once that the best compliment I ever received was back in my SecondLife/OpenSim days when my mentor told another that I “made things happen”. Yes – that’s me. I’m an engineer. I make things happen. I solve puzzles. I am not inspiring, I am not a leader, I am not a visionary. And oh my word I absolutely hate waiting for you to get it done. Or when you ARGUE with me about what should be done. In the famed words of my father, the engineer: WHY do you ARGUE with me? Or as my pillow says “Never but never question the Engineer’s judgement.”

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The cat hair was an add-on feature. 🙂

So here I am, leading a project. There is actually a great deal more I’d like to say about that but I don’t talk directly about real things in this blog. 🙂 All I’ll say about it is that part of the project has to do with communication with dispersed team members and creating a feeling of unity. We are living in the time of covid19. We are all working remotely. We are all practicing social distancing (well except for the lunatics down in Florida on spring break who are determined to party in each other’s faces no matter what the law or warnings might be). We are all being isolated. This means that every single organization in the world is trying to figure out the most productive way to keep everyone working while maintaining distance. Oh hey! Look at what Ahuva is doing. I bet SHE has ideas. I have found myself pulled into some interesting meetings about communication.

I AM an extrovert. Heaven knows I like going out in the crowds, with people, partying, the thrill of the crush. I’ve written on how I love NYC at Christmas. I can get a thrill out of shopping at the mall on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Contact! But honestly – I really don’t like being deluged with emails and messages and texts that are all assuring me earnestly that they are thinking about me, and primarily about me, and my well-being, and I should KNOW that they are ‘only thinking of me’. I have gotten emails from every online company with which I have ever dealt, every charitable organization, every site that has my email. They are all fervently telling me how my health and the health of my loved ones is their utmost priority. Really. That’s all they care about. The well-being of everyone. My mailbox fills every day with these sincere thoughts. Imagine my chagrin, therefore, as I am asked to participate in the development and creation of such communications. Or as Pogo would say “we have met the enemy and he is us“.

The Bloom Is Off The Rose

Every relationship has its bumpy patches, and we’ve reached that time with our contractors.

I spend a good part of MY professional life managing my clients’ expectations and keeping them informed about matters of interest to them. I am good at that aspect of my work. I expect the same when I am on the client end of a relationship.

The renovation relationship started off with excellent communication, whether by phone or email or face-to-face conversations. Ever since the cabinets were installed (the last of the large payment checks, I might add), communication has been minimal to non-existent. I have had to initiate every conversation about what was happening and what would happen. To be fair, not much was happening after the counter templates were made. I heard that there was a delay but then for 2 weeks there was no word at all. I am the one who reached out after 2 weeks to ask for an update and lo-and-behold- they’d “just heard that day”. Maybe, maybe not. Forgive my skepticism but in light of subsequent behavior, I’m not as convinced about that timing as I might have been.

I’ve told you of our trip to see our slab, and about the soffits and crown molding. The QUARTZ people are the ones who mentioned to us that they would be installing on Tuesday. I heard nothing from the contractors who are, by nature of our contract, supposed to be arranging all of these things. Today, Tuesday, I finally wrote to them to ask if indeed the counter would be arriving. I got an email that said they would check. We’re paying them to be managing this, it’s NOT supposed to be my job to manage the people with whom they have contracted. The counters arrived before any email.

I thought about it long and hard and then drafted an email. I said we are now in week 14 of a projected 10-12 week project. I am not upset about that, I wrote. I AM upset with the lack of communication and any notion of a schedule. I wrote that I understand that schedules are fluid and some things cannot be controlled. But I want a projected schedule of all the things that still have to be done. I have no idea if I’m looking at another 2 weeks, 3 weeks, a month, longer. There is a lot that still needs doing.

I got a reply this afternoon, which I consider a good response time. (Again – I do this all the time myself as a professional. I know what is involved in forming a response.) My first reaction was a “pffffft” as he addressed the delay. The delay, while not desired, is not the problem – I NEVER expected this to take only 10-12 weeks. I’m still absorbing his comments about the communication, which are focused on this morning. I’ve been feeling uninformed for several weeks now. I’m hoping that when I get the promised update of what is to come, it will cover all the gaps that I feel exist.

My counters are beautiful and I will share them with you tomorrow. Today is working through a bit of disappointment.

I See You

I am fascinated by what our avatars say about ourselves in SL. I only wish I understood all the messages. 🙂 I tend to form opinions of people in SL based on their avatars. As someone said in a comment on my blog earlier – we CHOOSE how we look in SL, so there is more basis for taking the appearance as a key. And sometimes that opinion is born out by the words in the chat box and sometimes the chat leads to a modified opinion. But our words, unaccompanied by pictures, paint a picture of ourselves as well.

At work I had occasion to research a business topic. I didn’t know much about the subject. Actually, that’s being overly-generous. I knew almost nothing about the topic. But our company provides forums wherein we can all ask questions and get information from our coworkers. So I began reading the related forum. I’d had such success in the virtual worlds forum that I hoped this one would work out as well.

At first, most everything I read was a mystery to me. But as I continued to read each thread, I came to recognize certain of the posters. Each one began to have a distinct “voice”. I began to understand more and more of what I read. Finally, however, I had reached the point where I needed more information. My coworkers in my office couldn’t help me since they didn’t know the topic either. I was going to have to reach out to someone in the forum and ask for help.

How do you decide which stranger to approach? In our social network this decision is simplified because we post pictures, games, information about ourselves and our jobs. But in a forum all you have are the words. Words have both denotations and connotations. The connotations make the words resonate for the reader. Grammar and punctuation do the same. The writer’s attitude is conveyed by these things.

Over at least two forums I have contacted 4 “strangers”. Three of these people I contacted because I had questions and needed advice. I trusted that if I reached out, they would respond. Not only did they respond but all 3 responded quickly, warmly and with an invitation to contact them again should I need more assistance. I’ve take 2 of them up on that invitation and each question I send is answered in a reasonable time frame and fully and with the same invitation to feel free to write again.

The 4th correspondent was someone that I had considered but skipped when I was seeking information in my position of total new-comer. Something in the posts from that person – perhaps the tone of the sentences or the argumentative nature – had made me feel this person would not take kindly to requests for information. Then there was a post and an issue and I needed to contact this person directly. My instincts were confirmed. I did ultimately get a reply, but it took 3 days. The reply was incomplete and did not actually answer my question. I have had to write to this individual 2 more times. Each time the reply is days in coming and always abrupt. There are no extra words of information wrapped around the core. There is no warmth. There is no acknowledgment that the way of the world is that those who have the information need to teach the new-comers. The posts in the forum were the truth about the person.

I come to know you by your words. I see you even if there is no picture there.


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