1. What makes it easy to talk to someone?
Hard to explain, but some people just project a sense of "I'm happy listening to you no matter what you're talking about, even if it's your dog hair furniture problems, some stupid show you're watching on netflix, your thoughts on brackets on the current vs. next line of an if statement." You get that feeling of non-judgement.
I would like to get better at that. I read lately that successful people all have the ability to draw out our conversations, they convey a sense of "I feel like I'm the only person in the room" to the person talking to them. I don't have that. I have focus issues and I bet people pick up on that.
I had a manager once who forced 1 on 1 meetings out of pure obligation, I could tell. He was a great guy, great at airplanes, but our meetings were awkward, I just felt like he was not interested in anything I had to say. As a consequence I had very few 1 on 1 meetings with my employees for a long time. I'm slowly learning there's a right way to do it though. I hope.
2. What percent of the day do you spend talking?
On my happy days? Like 10%.
3. Who, in your opinion communicates better: men or women?
Totally depends on the situation and content. I spend my days with men. There are times when I've got some issue that I just know they wouldn't care about or relate to.
Oh like yesterday! We were packing for a move, I was kind of crying in my office because I couldn't believe Alan Rickman died, all I could think about was Galaxy Quest. But I'd packed up my tissues! If I worked with women I would have come right out and said "I NEED A TISSUE!" and they would have thought it was hilarious. But the guys? No way! There is no crying in engineering, even over professor snape. So I used my clothes and snuck to the breakroom for paper towels and was quite uncomfortable.
On the other hand, unless I'm good friends with a woman I worry about what she's thinking behind the scenes. I worry less about what men are not saying, if that makes sense. My best girlfriends are the ones who say just what they think and I can tell they don't hold back.
Maybe that's because in elementary school the meanest kids to me were always girls, so I worry that those girls are still lurking around my life being super judgey, and sometimes I still do meet women that make me feel like I just don't fit in and I'm not cool, like we're still in high school and I'm the nerd. I've met fewer men who make me feel like that.
Also weirdness: women engineers never make me feel like that. It's an oddity I noticed about SWE and something I love about the group. Maybe because we're all nerds? I just find it very, very easy to talk to those women.
4. What topics do you avoid when talking to a stranger?
I'm very delicate about politics. My goal at work is for everyone at work to think I'm a moderate republican. I also do not talk much about my internet obsessions. I have a livejournal entry about the different answers I have for the "what do you do in your spare time?" question... my human answer is a very sanitized version of the truth so people will think I'm normal.
5. Do you like to eavesdrop on other people's conversations?
Oh good god yes it's the best! Who doesn't? It's all I can do to not butt in and give life advice.