Back in October of 2002, my coworker Dawn called me to her office. I knew something was wrong, and I knew I was about to be preached about something. It was one of those gloomy and cold Seattle days too, and by the measure of one’s mood, that was the last thing I needed on that very day.
After a few trivial blabs, she switched to the heart of the matter. She said “a couple of coworkers think you’re too rigorous for your own good and they feel that they’re pushed by you”. After a long and awkward moment of silence, I began explaining the “why” and the “intentions”. She listened very carefully and she continued by saying, “I hear you, and I agree with you. But this is not about reasons, it’s about their feelings”…
Human interactions are super complex, especially when your audience is smart enough to find ways to make their feelings sound reasonable. They argue with you within the frame of reason and facts, but their very argument is initially fueled by emotions. In such circumstances, you find yourself going about discussing and arguing for hours with no hope for convergence. His or her representation doesn’t clearly seem emotional, and sadly, your explanation doesn’t address the matter it needs to -until someone volunteers to stop the reticence.
The other complicated part relies on the egocentric approach one might choose. The attitude of “why do I need to change anything?”. Well, we as human beings are social animals, and in stark need of approval by others. Either accept this principle, or face the never-ending cycle of seasonal friendships and relationships that got shaped over a drink in cocktail parties. It is not important what you did or said or what the intention was. Within the realm of social norms and etiquette, it is utterly important how your actions were received.
Independent individuals spin around themselves and end up at the center of their own existence. That is an option. It is an electrifying option. It creates blasting energy around one, and others get attracted to that electricity for the duration of the lightening. The other approach, however, could be seeing the energy through for a long time.
As I’m getting older, I feel the responsibility of protecting my friendships and relationships more and more. It comes around as an impossible task at times, but that doesn’t warrant lack of trying. The attempt may not portray you as a solid or confident person. You need to show your cards, and tear down the wall in front of you. You need to make the approach to discuss the misunderstanding(s), which will inherently make you seem like the one in need. It takes a lot out of you and puts you out there, but you have to do it if you ever believed in consequence and humility.
…I listened to Dawn on that gloomy day. I went back to my coworkers and we discussed the issue over lunch. They were more than gracious to let go. They also understood that I had no intentions to be pushy, but that was not primarily the question. The issue was, they had felt what they had felt.