Friday, March 27, 2015

Being played with temporary trust

Listening to Karen Johnson talk on asking questions and making the other person feel comfortable, I had a sudden flashback. A few months ago, I was learning unit testing pairing with a developer friend. It was one of those high anxiety moments, I felt powerless and out of control. I did not know what I was doing, I did not know what we were about to do. Very much out of my comfort zone.

After the experience, I felt good, relaxed and like I had learned and achieved something. Perhaps that is why it takes me months to realise, in a middle of a conference talk on how smartly I was played in that situation.

Dwelling in my emotions, I was being very impatient. I had a feeling this isn't going anywhere, and I should just stop. As of now, I realise it must have been intentional what he did: he asked me to trust him for 15 minutes and we would stop if I still felt like it. 

It's actually a really smart move on relieving anxiety: time-box the experience, invite temporary trust to allow time to build long-term trust.
The reason I started to think about this is that I'm very uncomfortable learning intentional methods to play people. Collecting ideas is great, but I don't seem to work well with trying to learn a method, it just freezes me. I just thought that the thing I could take from the presentation I was listening to that it's ok if there's a piece that sticks with me. Even if I would need to learn to ask really good questions or be very precise on how I use my words, being methodological about it makes me uncomfortable.

I really hate it when I realise in the moment when someone uses a method on me and remember back to managers who apply things they've been trained to do. I wonder if I'm just being difficult.