So, I noticed something on the trip I was just on. I've only been on four business trips in my life - CES in 1997 and then three of the past four Email Evolution Conferences. When I went to CES, I passed my boss in the hall where he handed me the room key, he headed off to the airport to head home, he'd attended the first two days and then it was my turn to attend the next two days. At the first EEC in San Diego I connected with my college roommate and we hit up Adalberto's. But otherwise, besides the other industry participants I barely know, these conferences are lonely experiences. Lots of good stuff to learn and lots of time to think, but if you know me, you know I'm not super-social, so even the meals can be a little difficult as I struggle through.
This year, a colleague also attended the conference. She flew up a day earlier for a pre-conference workshop, but we connected the morning after I arrived and pretty much hung-out for much of the conference. We divided-and-conquered the different sessions to get as much good stuff out of the conference as we could, but we ate together, wandered around the vendor booths as a team, spent several hours talking through our notes and planning for a presentation we were going to make after we got back, stuff like that.
I discovered something really odd. I kept deferring to her. Like we'd walk up to a vendor's booth, even if I started the conversation, or did the introductions, before long, I was kind of just turning to her and letting her carry the conversation. Sometimes it was something like trying to quickly distill the work of our non-profit, a pitch I think I've got down pretty good, but other times, it was points where it was really kind of odd and that's when it started to hit me.
I realized this is something I do with Lori. I often let her handle the conversations with other people. It is a weird habit I've gotten into. Sometimes I do get flustered and all but stammer. And I know my speech can occasionally seem a little bit slurred due to an annoying thing where apparently my mouth produces more saliva than the average person (according to every dentist and dental hygenist who's ever worked on my mouth). And sometimes my mind's racing so fast I have trouble staying grounded in the conversation right in front of me, or I come up with something I want to say but it's so complicated I struggle it get it out consisely.
But I think it's more than that. I think I've just gotten lazy, that it's easier to let Lori handle things.
This also becomes evident like when we go out to eat. I'm happy to sit with the kids and let her order the food. I'm even happy to then run up to the counter and grab trays, but I have an unhealthy aversion to talking to people. (In the case of fast food restaurants, I have this fear that I'm going to forget what I'm supposed to order for other people or come back with the wrong stuff. And there are cases where she does wait in the car and I run in and grab food. Although the last time I did that, I did actually mis-order hers.)
But, yeah, apparently that's something else I need to work on. Being more social and doing a better job of engaging people. I can do it. Sometimes I even enjoy it. It's not the easiest thing in the world, but it's certainly not going to get any easier if I just continue to stand back and let Lori do my talking for me.