Wednesday, 15 August 2012

OF COURSE someone like me would say this!

Does this bug anyone else?  Have you ever had that feeling like someone thinks they 'get' you?  Maybe they do, and maybe they don't; but the point is that, if you're like me, you don't WANT them to!

You don't have to read far into my blog to learn that I have a love/hate relationship with personality tests.  I have a real aversion to the idea that a) a 10 minute quiz will reveal deep inner secrets I otherwise would never have known about myself, and b) I, along with all other humans, can be lumped into one of four easy categories.  Kierkegaard said, "Once you label me, you negate me." (don't be impressed - I learned it from watching Wayne's World - about 1:50 in)
  I am complex and mysterious, dammit!  You can't pigeonhole me!

On the flip side of that coin, there is the argument that's most succinctly put by those clever ancient Greeks: "KNOW THYSELF".  The value of these quizzes and evaluations is that, in the best case scenario, they can shine a light on some of the motivations or reasons for our often confusing reactions to stimuli.  Your brother gets a new promotion and you get jealous instead of happy.  You stand up for yourself and feel guilty instead of empowered.  Good heavens, humans and their silly reactions and motivations.  If the tests help, let's mandate them for all of us!  A little self actualization would do us good!

So, in summary, I guess: I want to know myself, but I don't want you to know me.  Or at least, I want to be the FIRST one to figure myself out.

Anyway, I'll get off my hobby horse.  Here's the point: there is a danger here that we can forgive (ignore) people for anything if it's just their pesky personality getting in the way. 

Remember when I was talking about getting yelled at (I'm this self referential only because I don't read enough)?  Well, imagine that you exited getting chewed out thinking, "Well, I know that person has a commanding, task oriented personality and only considers the cost to relationships after the damage has been done", then proceeded to write off the whole experience because "that's just the way they are, and they're just having an emotional reaction to the whole thing."  That'd be great!  Because that would mean you don't have to change any behaviour!  The deficiency all lies in that other person's personality.

This is something that happens to emotional people all the time.  Imagine being this person:  You don't like confrontation - it's your worst nightmare.  Harmony is what you always work toward.  However, some issue has gone on long enough, and it's time to confront the aggressor.  You are so nervous and out of your comfort zone that you start to cry.  Then, the person you are confronting starts to COMFORT you and tell you not to worry about it.  THEY ARE PLACATING YOU!  Just because you were crying did not mean that you had legitimate concerns that had to be dealt with!  Personalities be damned!

If you're in customer service, I bet you do this too:
When I have a difficult phone call with a customer at work, it is much easier for my ego if I jump to the conclusion that the difficult person is also a crazy person.  If they are irrational, then I don't have to deal with the fact that I may have actually failed to deliver what I promised to.

But what if it's my wife, who may be overtired, but is ALSO really upset that I sat on my butt all night while she cleaned dishes, changed laundry, and fed, bathed, and tucked in the boy?  It's easy for me to write off the anger because she's overtired.  AND, conveniently, if I let myself off the hook for those jobs, she will probably ALWAYS be overtired by the time she has a moment to confront me about it!

There is no english language.  I say this because we all use the same words, but few of us ever understand each other.  KNOW THYSELF, so that you know what language you speak.  And learn about the personality types of those who are close to you, so you can learn what language they speak, too.  That way, you can take the words they say, and translate them into your own language.  Everyone speaks in code.  You risk misinterpreting people if you fail to comprehend that.  Not every message comes across exactly as it's intended.
Don't make the mistake of writing people off just because "that's just them, being them."  Believe it or not, everyone has a reality just like yours, and they believe as much as you do that what they say is important, even if that's hard for you to incorporate into your perception.

Friday, 10 August 2012

How did this get to be about fish?

Ever had to come to terms with the fact that, no matter how hard you try, you will just never have some certain quality that you wish you possessed?

My life seems to have themes.  Either that or I don't have a lot of original thoughts and my blog posts get more redundant with each new one I heap on.  It's probably a combination of both those things, but that's okay, because one day I'll write a book that assimilates all these posts, and all the repeated thoughts will give it cohesion.  Or maybe they will make the book circular and excruciating.  Stop judging my book.  I haven't even written it yet.

One of the themes is this: your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness (remember that blog post?).  The same DNA that makes me great at building relationships makes me lousy at being assertive, for fear of hurting someone's feelings.  The inclination to explore ideas also expresses itself as a dis-inclination to turn those ideas into actions.  I bet this is the same for you.  Are you task oriented?  I bet you can't figure out how to avoid upsetting those people who get in the way of completing those tasks.  Are you extremely analytical?  I bet you hate how unimaginative you are.

I've had a couple interesting interactions lately that have hit me in the feelers.  Both of them, in very different ways, suggested to me that 'execution' is something I am not good at.
I have a list of 99 amazing ways to get from the little bowl to the big one.  Ask me about them.  I'd love to tell you.  But, my two co-conversants reminded me, with varying levels of gentleness, guess which bowl I am still in?

These conversations have left me feeling like a round peg in a square hole.  It is precisely the lack of skill in execution that makes me believe it is the golden key to all the success in life.  I bet all my executioner friends feel the same way about getting along with people (at least, I hope).  In keeping with the fish theme, I feel like this:
Ever heard the saying, "Those who can't do, teach"?  It always made me laugh, because teachers are easy to hate (okay, that word's too strong.  Let's go with resent.), with their cushy union jobs and their 2 months of paid vacation.  But today I saw another side of this joke.

I bet the inverse is true too: Those who can't teach, do.  By that I mean, a lot of the most results oriented people out there are so busy getting tasks done that they are lousy teachers, and they tend to piss people off, because getting the stuff done is more important to them than the people involved.  So, who's left to teach people how to do things?  The non-executors. 

I wonder how many books on Takin Care Of Business have been written by people who are great theorists, but don't actually accomplish much.  I mean, what results-oriented person has time to stop gettin shit done long enough to write about it? Wouldn't that feel like a colossal waste of time for them?

Anyway, those are my ponderings.  Fish, get off your bicycles.  Ignore the Lance Armstrongs and their judgy-judginess.  They aren't fish, and I bet you'd KILL them in a breath holding competition.  Go swim.