Andrei Freeman (lordandrei) wrote,
Andrei Freeman

Why I can come off as an extrovert...

I worked for a tech startup in '99 as a dev. Our company's dev attended a technical developer's conference. At the conference was a trade floor. The dev's were told that they needed to put in shifts during the conference at the booth with the marketing and sales guys. This is pretty much standard practice.

What was not standard practice, was that this company's sales and marketing force were pretty much a row of impotent has beens. As the adage goes, they couldn't sell a bottle of water to a dying man in the desert.

When I took my shift I watched as the two suits at the booth stood there like they were waiting for the delivery of the next roll of toilet paper. After 10 minutes of this I decided to "switch on". As people passed by I engaged them. You've seen this in action done very poorly at malls. Typically you'll pass a fragrance or cell phone kiosk and a person will physically move towards you. You probably instinctively respond with a wide swerve and a Wolverine-esqe attitude that says, "Don't engage me, or die." Because you can get this instinctive defense up so quickly, it proves the mall-drones suck at their jobs. This is why they are working kiosks (not even real stores) as drones.

Engaging people is one part character and 10 parts reading the person you're talking to.

Hill of beans time... as I often point out. (What does any of this have to do with a hill of beans)

This morning (ah... here we go)

This morning, I'm standing on line for my bus. There is a 'just out of college' aged guy listening to an iThing. He has a backpack on the ground. Outside, it is pittering with rain. I pop my umbrella and look at him with my usual friendly smile and nod.

"It's weeeeehht owt, aw-right"... Which is a harshly badly transliterated copy of what came out of his mouth.

Now... here's where experience and a little study of absolutely useless facts makes itself absolutely useful.

The average person would say, "Well, that's not an American accent. Must be British."
The slightly educated person who's watched maybe one piece of culture from outside this country would say, "No, not British... must be Aussie."

Now... there is a little known rule. It's similar to the concept of Pitt vs. Penn State.

Don't confuse a "Kiwi" for an "Aussie". For those that don't know what that is... Kiwi is a friendly term for New Zealand. The two countries (I believe) are further apart than Hawaii and mainland US. And to be honest the rivalry is not as bad as making some off handed idiot remark that Canada is just part of the States.

So I said, "I have to ask. New Zealand?"

His eyes lit up. "Yeah... not many people in the states even know about New Zealand"

I made a comment that the "ay" was broader than what I'd expect out of Australia and than joked, "Come on, never mistake a Kiwi for an Aussie. First rule." Which gave him a strong chuckle and then he told me how it really wasn't that bad. He asked me how I knew. Due to it being odd for an American to pick up those things. I talked about having been into accents (which got me at least into the right hemisphere) and how I dated a woman after college who was a huge Split Enz nut.

Okay.. you want to score with a New Zealand'er at least 90% of the time. Mention "Split Enz". (But you really should actually know about the group) ... This is home town pride. No, not everyone from the country loves the band, but they are pretty much an institution, like 007, Doctor Who or Harry Potter is for the Brits.

Effectively we then went on to talk about the band. And once you're on to music.. you're engaging a person.

I really wasn't intending to pull the guy into conversation. I was actually wet and hate waiting for the bus. I probably won't really talk to him again. Not because I'm avoiding him.. just because there are so many people at this bus, I rarely run into the same people twice.

But it's interesting to analyze the ability to talk to strangers. Which really seems to be something that I firmly believe should be taught in school. It's helpful, it's socially beneficial... and hell if you're going to ever go into sales... it should be instinctive.

Oh.. that startup? Folded within 3 years.

It's a bad thing when your devs are better at sales than your sales folk.

Tags: extroversion, people, strangers, work

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