Sunday, March 22, 2009

re-A-ranging thoughts

Just had an interesting and insightful conversation with a good friend. She is my go-to person oftentimes when I need to sound off, brainstorm, talk my way thru something. We relate on several levels - children the same age, over-involved family members, homeowning/decorating, husband frustrations, business issues, co-worker interactions... we're not always on the same page and I think that's why "we" work. We give each other support, and a different perspective.

One of the tangents we got on today had to do with her putting herself down at work. I don't see this side of her, ever. Granted, we don't work together, we're not even in the same, or a related, field. I know her personally and creatively and I'm very impressed with her professionally so I see a confident, vibrant, knowledgeable woman! It's hard for me to grasp her bringing negative professional energy into her work environment... I just had to prod her a bit to find out what exactly she was talking about.

It turns out if someone extends her a compliment, she down plays it instead of accepts it. Recently, after an internal relocation, her supervisor complimented her and another co-worker on how quickly they got their offices back in action. Instead of graciously accepting it with a thank-you, my friend commented that she wished hers was as together as the co-workers. Another time, just before her review, she joked with her supervisor that the evaluation made her nervous because "they" (her supervisor and management) might realize she's just flying under the radar.

My friend had recently read a book that helped her understand the impact of negative energy, both personally and professionally, and had given her a game plan to make some changes. The dear that she is, she's offered to let me read it. Well, thank you very much, but I don't think I need it! Then, of course, I turned it inward, as I often do... wait a minute, maybe I do need it...

I may not do the same things as my friend, but I do "soften the blow" of criticism by exposing my own vulnerability to a situation. It's my attempt to relate. My friend analyzed this as an intentional downplaying of my abilities, allowing my co-workers and employees, and my supervisor, to see me as just a "dumb schmuck with no special abilities to have made a lucky guess." Hmmm, interesting... perhaps a little true... I don't particularly like coming on strong, I don't like being of the "my way or the highway" mentality. I encourage dialog and brainstorming among my team and I will make the final decision as a result of such. More often than not, when I've been frustrated over another's inability to think things through properly, I've commented, "Look, I'm nothing special - I am not a rocket scientist - so if I can do it (think it, realize it, consider it, etc.), then YOU can, too." I expect everyone to be as good at something as me, because, in truth, if I can do it, so can you... because I am not anything special. I don't have an education any different than someone else's. I am not priviledged on any level. I was not exposed to anything any differently than common man. I am a definite "Miss Average Everything" (I read a book or a story with that title once and related to it so well descriptively that I never forgot it!).

So, is this thought process negatively downplaying my abilities or is it passively-agressively being overly-confident?

In trying to coax someone thru a situation, I will often explain why I feel I am a trusted source for offering guidance. I will bring up something from my past that is similiar and relate it to our existing predicament. Oftentimes, these are examples of when I didn't do the right thing and how I worked thru it afterwards and learned from it for future reference. By admitting my weaknesses in given situations - even when I prevailed in the long run - I am opening up myself empathetically, humanizing myself, allowing those I work with to see not the perfectionist, but the conqueror. My friend, the now-expert after reading this book, disagrees. She thinks I'm bringing negative energy into my life.

So, something to ponder... Being an obsessively analytical person, I evaluate things to an extreme extent. As a result, I am 99.9% confident in the majority of my decisions because I can rationalize the thought process that got me from A to Z. Wrong or right, I can defend my position if need be.

See? I just did it there! I explained why I believe I have the right to be 99.9% confident! OK, maybe I need to some re-evaluating, some re-thinking... I will accept my friend's gracious offer to borrow her book. I will read it and I will take it to heart and I will get something out of it. And perhaps, I will re-a-range my current way of thinking.

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