Blinders are a device (see left) that race horses are fitted with so that they don’t get distracted by other horses as they bear down on the finish line. Blinders physically cut down on a horses’ peripheral vision so they don’t become distracted or even bolt.
Geeks often have a built-in set of blinders. Whether by nature or nuture or a combination of both, these blinders contribute to a geeks ability to focus for long periods of time, allowing geeks to tpeform amazing fetes because they’re not very distractable.
But with the better comes the bitter. On the other side of the focus coin comes a geek’s inability to take-in anything but the project they’re working on. They often miss or aren’t interested in what other people think or feel. It’s not that they don’t care, they usually aren’t even aware of it.
Our entire world is based on working in groups and the geeks’ ultra-focus may limit their very ability to survive. A recent New York Times story postulates that the ability to work together is an evolutionary survival mechanism, “…our long nomadic prehistory as tightly knit bands living by… team-building rules: the belief in fairness and reciprocity, a capacity for empathy and impulse control, and a willingness to work cooperatively in ways that even our smartest primate kin cannot match.”
So, what do you do if you’re not inherently social? Learning and practicing people skills is a pretty good start and people skills can be learned. Started by noticing those around you. What are people doing? Is the guy on the cell phone at Starbucks angry or amorous? Observation is a good starting point for learning about social skills. Here are a few basic people skills:
- Understanding people
- Giving constructive feedback
- Expressing thoughts clearly
- Accepting feedback
- Resolving conflicts