Personality types and motivators in the biz (was RE: STC Philadelphia conference sessions

Subject: Personality types and motivators in the biz (was RE: STC Philadelphia conference sessions
From: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: "John Hedtke" <john -at- hedtke -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 22 May 2008 15:27:35 -0400



John Hedtke's reasons to attend STC conferences over the years "have
included at various times and in multiple combinations:
> * to pick up skills I needed
> * to get STC speaking gigs
> * to network
> * to do research for magazine articles and books
> * to make contact with software developers and service vendors
> * to present sessions
> * to find work
> * to garner contacts and resources for my local chapter
> * to receive professional awards
> * to work with the Nominating Committee (which I was a member of for
> a couple years)
> * to introduce my fiance to people and to show her the people I work
> with (oh, she had things to say about tech writers! :) )
> * to go to the place the conference was in
> * to perform the latest silly song at the Jam Session
>
> And always, always, always to see old friends and to meet as many new
> people as I can."

See, that wouldn't be me.
My list of reasons would include the ones about info and skills, and
maybe a little bit about meeting some acquaintances in the biz, but
there would end my social motivation. Where you repeated, three
different ways, the joy of simply meeting new people... that would be a
motivator to me only if all the "old" people I know had died off and I
needed a new batch. Otherwise, "meeting new people" is a neutral event
for me, leaning toward the positive or the negative depending on the new
person. Put another way, I'm more motivated by new ideas than by new
persons (unless they curve in certain specific ways, but that's
different conversation).

I believe that the world is divided between those who live-and-breathe
social interactions, crowded party scenes, and a constant influx of new
contacts... of which you can actually remember most of their names....
and those like me who .... um.... don't.

To forestall the knee-jerk conclusion jumping that I hear as a gathering
roar out there in the pews: I like people. No, really. If you approach
me with a warm, seemingly sincere smile and handshake, then I like you,
until further notice, or until my memory of you fades... which it will,
unless our meeting included some kind of threshold-exceeding event or
condition. Not forgetting you could be because:
- you said or did something interesting (just introductions and small
chatter are filler, not interesting, sorry)
- or I was able to help you in some way (thereby feeling particularly
good about myself)
- somebody else whom I like or respect saw fit to include you and me
for a while
- you had something that I wanted/needed :-)
Otherwise, within minutes, I can't recall your name, and within days, I
wouldn't be able to say where I met you, only that you looked familiar,
kinda. Your assignment is to get past seeing that as a value judgement
and just to accept that as how my brain works. My assertion is that I'm
hardly alone in that overall mode of interaction and motivation.

While I have met a small fraction of the people that a social
maven/natural networker would have met, the numbers are still in the
tens of thousands. From that sampling and other observations in various
settings, I have come to believe that I fall somewhere to the left of
center on the sociability bell curve. Not way, way toward the skinny
tail of it, like some anti-social folk I have met, but certainly not
approaching the other skinny tail inhabited by natural party organizers,
camp counselors, gossip columnists, and entertainment committee
chairpersons...

Essentially I think that at least half the population (thus the bell
curve) is in the lower half of the sociability curve, and we might be
slightly over-represented in this trade/craft/profession. The real
extremes on each end would be unlikely to make it as technical writers.
The anti-social would never get out of their cubes to talk to
people-as-information-sources. The super-social would be unable to sit
alone and quiet long enough to put info down on paper/electrons. The
rest of us adapt and/or pick our niches.

This kind of thinking leads to certain mental processes when
encountering new people at, say, a convention or association meeting. If
I meet a new member, or a long-timer of the rank-and-file, I take them
as they come, until further notice. If I meet a member of the executive,
then two opposing positions vie for validation:
- Is this person a natural social type who just gravitated to this
position and did well enough to get elected or
- Is this person a naturally moderate or low social type who is
impersonally and cynically going through the networking motions in the
pursuit of power and influence?

Anyway, this might or might not lead to another Myers-Briggs thread, but
it's what came to mind when I read John's list and saw the
social-networking thing repeated as a prime motivator.

My other thought was that I'm less likely than John to go to an STC
function (haven't been, this century), because the other items on the
list are available via technology. Even the social function is - to
some extent - satisfied by media like this list. Of course, if any of
y'all are ever in Ottawa, I'll gladly buy you a beer (or other libation
of your choice), but I'd be unlikely to have anything else planned...
unless you have an otherwise unfulfilled need to help rebuild a deck...
:-)
A social maven would have Googled you to within an inch of your life and
have a full itinerary of stuff calculated to keep you occupied.

I'd also be curious if responses to the union question are distributed
in any significant way along this kind of personality-type divide.

Kevin


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Follow-Ups:

References:
STC Philadelphia conference sessions: From: Rob Hudson
Re: STC Philadelphia conference sessions: From: John Hedtke
Re: STC Philadelphia conference sessions: From: Guy K. Haas
Re: STC Philadelphia conference sessions: From: John Hedtke

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