Saturday, 23 April 2011

Ha-ha - Love this!

So, when I heard that baby cry, I thought to myself, See what you are not missing out on? High up in my castle on Planet Smart Single Lady. Well, guess who’s the sucker here? Me. Because even though I don’t have the baby, and all the benefits of having the baby (including, but not limited to, a deep, emotional connection with another human being, the joy of parenting, plus a brand new stream of pictures to post to Facebook), I am still living with the crying baby.
From babble, via feministe.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Why can't I lie?

Oh, don't worry - I don't presume myself to be some noble saint who cannot utter a fib. I'm not going through some voodoo honesty spell.
I do lie, but its useless lying. It's to embellish stories, or to make things sound better. Occasionally I lie to get my own way, or to make myself seem less wrong. I'm pretty sure I keep those lies to errors that affect only me* and to protect my pride. I'm usually afraid of being wrong.

But there is a kind of lying that I haven't mastered and I am shitty with myself for it. I think it's the most useful - nay, benevolent & generous - kind of lying there is. Why I, with my gloriously paltry drama background, cannot master this, a gift of friendship and affection, is beyond me.

Sometimes, I can't lie to be nice.

Don't get me wrong - I don't think I'm heartless - I can easily, willingly, happily, without any effort at all, find positive or complimentary things to say about gifts, situations, and such, or ask relevant questions about the topic at hand to show I'm listening and I care. None of that is lying. I laugh, smile, nod etc to politely play may part in a conversation. That's 99.5% of the time. Of course, I always say thank you, ask how people are - I don't think I'm dysfunctional or challenged in regular everyday interactions.

But there are a few times when I find it really hard to simply look pleased when I'm not. There's a part of my brain that says "That just isn't true. You don't like this gift. It's well made, and alright quality, and it's [insert good quality here] - say those things, remember the thought counts - but don't say you love it or like it because, right now, that's a lie and lying is wrong."
Now, I think I might be getting better at this. (Does this mean I'm regularly getting not-very-good gifts? Hmm...) When I get buttons made of stone, quirky dust-catchers, or something that actually suits the buyer more than the receiver, I can usually make a generic positive sound that says "You thought of me/my birthday when you were far away! I love that! How lovely!" (which I truly mean) while a little teeny part of my brain says "This made you think of me?"

Similarly, sometimes I fail to convincingly keep eye contact, raise eyebrows or nod when people tell stories. This happens when I'm thinking "This is not a nice/interesting/funny story", "This isn't something I want or am supposed to hear" or "This sounds untrue."
I tend to do this mostly in the company of people I've spent too much time with, or people I don't respect (which I suppose means I'm not worried if they're put out for a while).
I'm sure I've seen people do this, or something like it, to me. My first thought is "I'm talking about myself too much again." (No! Really? Gee, Blogger, that's uncharacteristic!) But really, it could be anything - they're thinking of something else, something they've forgotten, who knows. I suppose, the people I do this to might assume the same thing, but I could make it so they needn't have to imagine excuses.

But this is all I'd need to do:
  • say "Wow! I love it! Thank you so much!"
  • nod or raise my eyebrows and smile
  • occasionally say 'Huh!"
Pretty simple, yes?**

And I would be a much nicer, although slightly less honest, person.

Stay tuned for my next post: "Why am I neurotic? One woman's suspicion that she's having normal social interactions"

* And possibly my husband. For instance, "I meant to do that this morning!" (no, completely forgot, but I don't care to be in trouble for that thanks) or I'll make up a reason that didn't exist at the time. I think it's because I think he's really smart, and I don't want him to think I've done something silly, which is stupid because people should be allowed to forget and make mistakes sometimes. I'm usually very defensive if he is patronising or jokey about me being 'dumb'. He's not being mean, just not-very-funny at a not-very-good time i.e. when I'm not in the goddam crapping mood.

** God willing, matching the response with an appropriate situation. Wouldn't be opening a present and saying "Huh!" too often... oh, God, I hope I haven't....

Ire is annoyered.

Recruitment processes seem to suck.*

When I was shifting from uni to (hopefully) a classroom teaching job, I sent out 48 applications, got three interviews and one job offer. The job offer came from an interview that was a kick-on from the second interview. Teaching job applications are, to say the least, overwhelming - 5 to 8 questions that required a page-long response each. (Can anyone tell me what other industry does this? Having to read those is a reason I'll probably never aspire to principal-ship. )
I wondered: how on earth can you tell from these convoluted responses**, a few referees and AN interview whether I'm a good teacher, or even a teacher with potential? If I were them, I would put an awful lot of weight on the referees contribution, and hope that the applicant had used people who were not nuts. Even now, when people say "Oh, but you're a great teacher?" I think, how would you know? You've never seen me teach. Clearly, "no blood or tears" = I know what I'm doing. :
I've seen recruitment happen in an office environment, too, where resumes are pretty easy to interpret. Those gloriously overblown positions like Documentation Manager (I file stuff) and Public Liaison Officer (receptionist). Everyone knows what they mean. Really, all that's left is to find out if they're a complete odd-bod via an interview.
Strangely enough, I used to LOVE interviews. LOVE love loved them. Not sure why. I can only assume I thought I was awesome. (Was I the odd-bod?)
But then, I'm probably known as a somewhat extroverted person - not all the time, but I can be - and I did to a drama degree so I suppose I have what would be called a "flexible demeanor".

Now. My gripe.
Some of my friends are in IT - programmers, engineers, nerds. (I consider myself a nerd with pride! But its prolly only coz I like to think I know obscure, lofty, superior crap.)
These are people who are stereotypically known as 'socially challenged', especially if you consider current telly types from shows like The Big Bang Theory.
I suspect, too, that of all the careers that people with any ASD or even seem simply 'quirky' or eccentric, some sciences/IT would seem very attractive to them. (I'm basing this completely and solely on the high ratio of eccentric vs non-eccentric scientists I know.)
I know a few cases of very good scientists who aren't the greatest socialisers, or sometimes not-that-excellent at representing/promoting themselves. I know of an excellent programmer who needs specific behavioural support from his workmates, but he's one of the most effective and skilled engineers in the business. The benefits completely outweigh the challenges.

So, what I want to know is this: when you start incorporating Human Resources into recruitment processes - groups who aren't going to work with these employees, won't see them day-to-day, and don't have to manage these employees - what kind of person to they expect to see? What characteristics do they want to hire? What share do they have in these choices?

For the few people I know who are job hunting in science and IT fields, I trust their searches continue for good reasons. I trust they're missing out because genuinely better applicants were successful. But that those decisions had better be coming from the recruiting scientists, and not the freaking HR department.

* I write this as a completely biased, emotional stakeholder in a particular aspect of this process, as well as someone who's experienced it from the pointy end, and a little from the fat end.
** I have to say, I know people who blatantly copy/pasted other people's responses and for lots of reasons: a lack of time, a lack of respect for the process, being overwhelmed by the questions, and/or being unable to answer them.