I was given additional responsibility to support the IT group at work. A group I had not worked with at that company and too few contacts were developed in time of my light tenure. I knew from being at my husband's work BBQ (then a techie himself) it wasn't going to be a lively bunch. I knew it would be an adjustment from the sales folks I had gotten accustomed to laughing with.
It was tradition that HR support roles be present in departmental meetings, often delivering presentations. It would be nice to put names to faces so my org charts could finally come alive.
They began the meeting introducing me as a new member of the support team, their new HR contact. I sat slightly nervous with the hard glances that came my way. They threw some skeptical curve balls my way that I answered well. This was going to be different. I tried to sit properly and held my posture like stone, tightening my stomach and telling myself I can do this. I know what I am doing. Trying to push every ounce of confidence to the expression on my face. Be friendly but don't be a pushover. Don't let them know your youth, you need credibility. Be stalwart.
The spotlight moved off of me, something I normally don't choke on, and now was focused on the conducting manager. They went around the room and each person had to answer the same question; an ice breaker if you will.
What was your favorite childhood toy received for Christmas?
I was starting to sweat, what would be a noble answer? What would make me sound smart and grown up and 'hey I know what I am doing, even since I was a kid' toy? I was glad the game started on the other side of the room.
I don't remember hearing what other people replied with, I was too nervous trying to figure out my own answer. Glimpses of DOLL HOUSE and BARBIE VAN and KEN! were shoved out of my head. What on earth would I say. I can't make it obvious that I am several generations away from this group. They have to know I can support their ER issues with professionalism and wisdom. One answers with a joke that his item was telling of his older age, but I blank out on what the toy was.
It was coming down to the wire, a few more people before me. My hands were sweaty under the conference room table. Then it came to me- of course! A toy I loved that would impress those who love technology, it was perfect. And before I could think my mouth started moving with a gracious smile,
"Well, this might be telling my age, but my favorite childhood gift was Nintendo".
Someone from the back of the room shouts "NINTENDO?! I was in college when that came out!"
Another replies, "I bought that for MY kids!"
The rooms burst into a medley of chuckles as I shift in my seat. I decided I would laugh, too. I was up next on the agenda and my nerves were calmed. I launched into my presentation with ease and remembered just being myself, all but stalwart, is a lot more fun for all of us.
Something about making other people laugh, even at my own expense, makes me feel unstoppable.