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Tech's Files: Jung the Shrink Meets Jung the Geek - Mixonline

Tech's Files: Jung the Shrink Meets Jung the Geek

COMMUNICATION IN THE WORKPLACE
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Eddie Ciletti proudly presents the results of his “Personality Profile” as defined by the Insights® Discovery program

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was told point blank that I wasn’t a “Team Player.” Those were challenging times, when at best nearly everyone I knew was sleep shy and, at worst, was recovering from some sort of chemical excess. In a “boy’s club” business, even being of the male persuasion was no guarantee of fitting in. I wrote it off at the time, although the accusation haunted me for a while, but not out of guilt. Instinct and intuition have guided me well through life, even when interpersonal communications (and understanding) were weak.

No matter how brilliant an idea or a creative work may be, it will never get the assistance or exposure that is needed to bring it to market without a continual string of communication and convincing, supporting evidence. Whether we’re talking about highly complex endeavors such as a space mission, brain surgery or global energy development, or the relatively simple task of getting many ears to hear your most recent project, communication between individuals is key at every step along the way. Just look at the list of credits for a feature film, a videogame or a touring concert production.

This type of interaction isn’t easy for everyone; for many of us, balancing social skills with technical and/or artistic expertise does not necessarily come naturally. I have worked hard to overcome my inner geek’s social shortcomings (writing a monthly column for Mix has helped me organize my thoughts so that the right words come when needed), but as with all things that matter, you have to keep on working at it.

During two recent “therapy sessions”—aka, exercises with co-workers at school—we explored how group decisions are made. Toward this end, we took an online survey that classified us into four personality groups and examined the results. Naturally, I reflected on the ghosts of the past, but lest you think I’d cashed in my independent streak for a trip to Stepford, know that I am never happy about taking surveys, political or otherwise. That said, the scientist in me was very curious once the results were revealed. Understanding how personalities interact can go a long way toward explaining how some great things are accomplished and yet others are never realized.

SKULE FOR TEACHERS
For the first communications exercise, we were each asked to organize a list of unhealthy activities in order of most to least deadly. Mine was initially the most accurate (a pleasant surprise), until “collaboration” and “group think” reduced overall accuracy. As defined by Irving Janis in 1972 (and borrowed from Wikipedia in 2010), group think is: “a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.” Translation: We might avoid imposing our vision on others in order not to seem controlling. We might also accept someone else’s view to seem open to their opinion and, again, not appear controlling.

The second exercise occurred after we’d taken an online survey, where we were defined by four color-groups, each of which reflects a certain personality type. This is the closest I’ve come to seeing a shrink.

I’m yellow (35 percent), green (35 percent), blue (15 percent) and red (15 percent)—via Insights® Discovery program—where key personality traits are weighted by intensity. The population percentages are from Michael Puskas’ blog. You can compare descriptions on the image with those that follow. These two “systems” agree that yellow makes for good teacher/counselors (let’s be friends) and that reds are focused, goal-oriented and intense (can you hear me now?). Green and blue traits are reversed. Greens are accountants and engineers (gimme the facts and figures). Blues are chatty and disorganized (let’s have fun). Of course, it’s more complicated than that. The really interesting between-the-lines stuff provides insights into how each type should approach the other to get the most positive response and incur the least wrath.

What did I learn about myself, you might ask? Although life experiences—and my own survival—have proven my instincts to be fairly good, my Facebook page proclaims my accepted role in the world as the irritant in the oyster that hopefully yields a pearl. I am accustomed to my ideas being outside the commonly accepted “norm.” My very being is the result of years of related experiences, of fixing other people’s “problems.” It’s my life’s work to see the results of wear and tear, excessive heat, acts of nature and the unfortunate tendency of some people to be penny-wise and pound-foolish, and try to make things right. I also know I can’t do it alone.

WHY AM I WRITING THIS?
For newbies, especially those fresh out of school, there is intense, often self-inflicted pressure to be independent, self-sufficient and, uh, “make big bucks fast to pay off that loan!” As hard as any business endeavor is these days, some of my audio peeps are remarkably busy, and although it might be hard to imagine, too busy.

What keeps me busy is the ability to wear many hats, and the fact that my work as a teacher and a maintenance tech brings me in contact with many types of people. I see a similar trait in my assistant, John Rausch. He’s a drummer/engineer with a serious interest in microphones, preamps and acoustics. He is motivated, good natured, determined and eager—sometimes too eager, if that’s possible. His most recent baptism by fire was the result of agreeing to do a multitrack recording on the day of a sold-out live show and pulling it off, despite technical obstacles and the completely new experience of interacting with a union staff.

Our relationship is based on common interests and the simple understanding that we are not competing for business, that together (as a team) we can do more than either of us individually can—the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. We are two independents with the benefit of overlapping territory.

When a client asked me to organize a console recapping, John was both my remote control and the “teacher” who showed the studio’s in-house engineer how to do the work. When the job went according to plan—on schedule and within budget with minimal side-effects—the owner did what most owners do when things are going well. He said, “While you’re in there, could you re-install this remote talkback switch that used to connect to the previous console?” On the surface, this seemed like a no brainer. After all, how hard could connecting one switch be? Then the phone rang. I had been completely out of the loop when I learned that the client’s console was stuck in Talkback mode. What to do? “I’m on my way to school,” I said. “Meet me there with the schematics, and we’ll figure it out.”

We figured it out.

Eddie’s teaching instincts are revealed at his Website, www.tangible-technology.com, now 15 years old.