I have just returned home from a work day meeting full of networking (bleugh), team-building (ARGHHHH) and workshopping (kill me now). I HATE all of those things. Networking feels mercenary to me (what can I gain from sucking up to or trying to impress this person?) team-building seems pointless to me (we either are a team or we’re not, allowing Bill from Accounting to joke around while asking him to catch you as you fall makes me just want to kill Bill from Accounting) and workshopping is basically giving the floor to the loudest, gobbiest people in the room (when the best ideas sometimes come from the quiet people who observe the reality of the situation) but today I decided to tackle this nightmare using a Stoic tool, specifically not assuming that I already know it all.
By admiting to myself that every single person in that room has knowledge that I do not, by opening myself up to the idea that some of their knowledge might help me to do my job better (or smarter = easier) I didn’t immediately dismiss all the suggestions coming from Bill from Accounting, and I didn’t strut around the room like the expert on all things work related. Maybe Bill’s ideas will end up being meaningless to me but my attempt to rein in my ego certainly made the networking bit easier, it stopped being a one way process of what can this person do for me, into a mutual how could we help each other. My attempts to consider the things that other people were expert on made me specifically ask the quietest person at the table what they thought during the workshopping, and without yet having the end results of today, I am confident that we produced a wider variety of suggestions, new ideas and topics for future consideration.
The ‘Ice-breakers’ and team building were still incredibly annoying, but instead of sitting there with a face like I was sucking a lemon, I was able to join in the laughter at the ridiculousness of it all (and how Bill from Accounting didn’t know who Rick Astley is).
I also discovered today that Dairy Milk is the UKs favourite chocolate bar. Someone else beat me to the answer so I didn’t actually win any chocolate but, y’know what? that’s ok.
Blue sky thinking, outside the box.