The silence test

I’m back in something of a holding pattern. The company expects to be slow for a few months, with things hopefully picking up afterwards. It doesn’t make sense to hire anyone new just now, but there may be a call for expansion later. In the mean time, things might be slow enough to run at reduced time.

At least once the current project is over; I didn’t have hardware or specs until somewhat late, and then I had my reflection time scheduled out. When I returned, there was catching up, and getting pulled into an abortive ISO audit. Now it’s a matter of catching up, with boards arriving any day, due dates looming, and the next vacation just around the corner.

Back to the subject at hand.

One of the things that struck me about talking with my boss, was our diametrically opposed means of coping with an uncomfortable situation. I clam up, while he talks on and on. The net effect is that I get caught up on all the industry gossip and company plans. Now, I wouldn’t necessarily mind being a little less out of the loop most of the time, but it doesn’t make for much of a conversation.

Just about a year ago, I made a note to write about silence. Specifically, the way I tend to greet uncomfortable subjects with silence. The funny thing I only really became conscious of it from watching my father.

I’m certainly quiet by default, but I can get going on those rare occasions where I’m fluent in the topic of discourse. Unfortunately, my interests have a very small intersection with the people around me, and I have little to add to most topics of conversation. This was especially pronounced last year when I went to North Carolina with a bunch of my parent’s friends. Their main topics tend to be dancing and motorcycles.

When it’s a definite question, I have and idea of what might be at work. I know people won’t like I really want to say, so I don’t say it, and hardly even admit to myself the reason. I guess it’s a form of “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Or perhaps it’s cognitive dissonance Chris Crawford talked about, as I sit there searching for a way to harmonize the opposing forces of social acceptance and honesty.

So I’ve got a theory I’m calling the silence test, which I don’t remember nearly enough (perhaps getting it properly written down will help a little). If I’m at a loss for words, it might just be a sign of cognitive dissonance, indicating I’m not being true to myself. I need to stop and reflect on what’s going on. Probably a silent process was well, but perhaps it will clear things up for the future.

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