I felt simultaneously intrigued and enlightened by your comment (also echoed by previous colleagues) about my uncommon habits, behavior, mannerism… When we discussed it, I decided not to ask for specific examples, but I assumed these are relevant
- Wearing helmet when walking in
- One barefoot on the rolling cabinet when using standing desk
- Eating my food on a tray
- Taking note in every meeting with a post-it pad rather than a notebook
- Unshaven, or uncombed hair
- Carrying a big camping backpack every day, as I described to you
- Declining to attend any drink party, except the last party before I resign
These habits often draw unwanted attention. Since my late 20’s, I have made it a point to try and minimize these behaviors, but only if I’m aware of it. The helmet effect was only revealed to me by your comment.
Q: are these “features” or “defects”. The conventional wisdom seems to say these are defects because they are disliked by other people around.
I actually like people with these “features”. Rough around the edges, these people are usually geeks, nerds or mad scientists, but occasionally a manager in some team. Due to these unusual habits, some of these individuals have a disarming demeanor, others uptight and stern. Common theme among them – unusual “features”.
In contrast, across my past workplaces and beyond my immediate teams, about half the coworkers are well-polished with no unusual mannerism. A lot of times I don’t feel very close to them, as if there’s a mask between us. Semiconsciously I feel they don’t let their hair down easily, less spontaneous, not my type. A small subset of these coworkers can be described as cautious, even secretive, even territorial. In my subconscious, I tend to assume they show a sense of insecurity and are too afraid of losing face.
Across my past workplaces and beyond my immediate teams, most of the coworkers I have liked most are always the less well-polished.
My father is the well-polished type (but very much a nerd); my mom and sister are mavericks. Each of them is liked by some people, disliked by some people. I chose to follow my mother’s style, though I listen more to my father. Decades ago, I might have wanted to follow my father’s style, but I don’t have the skills and capabilities.
https://bintanvictor.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/likability-vs-technical-caliber/ is a blog post I wrote many years ago.