Monday, August 01, 2011

cool white

i remember hearing a this american life story a few years ago about a guy who read how to win friends and influence people, wanting to learn how to influence people and win friends, i suppose.  and he noted to the host that, as he read and applied the book's methods for interacting with others, as he learned the techniques on how to successfully navigate the social realms, he began to wonder about the intentions of those around him.  that, as he was trying to take an interest in what people were talking about because that was one of the lessons of the book, he started to wonder if the people he interacted with were being genuine or, like him, just applying techniques.  his efforts to improve his interpersonal relations soon had him ironically double-thinking every interaction.

i thought that was interesting.  and, as i was talking on the phone tonight with a friend about leadership skills and the like, i thought of how i don't think i really work like that.  i think i develop my interpersonal skills through a more holistic approach of observation and practice, rather that through a book written by a corporate strategist or even a behavioral psychologist.  not that i have anything against such approaches; it's just not my thing.

i was thinking, too, about how i'm often asked what my opinion is on a subject and how i will often fumble and stumble for an answer, usually delivering an anemic response (again, such happened tonight).  it's made me wonder if i'm bland or wishy-washy, if i really don't have many opinions, if there's not much underneath me, if i need to be bolder and more determined in who i am, what i stand for, and what i want.
no, i don't think so.

first, i do have opinions.  a lot of them get voiced here.  and i think i have many more feelings, thoughts, and stances on issues but i don't have them readily eloquated.  that's frustrating at times but i'm working at it, i suppose.

sometimes i think i may be afraid to say what i think for fear of saying the wrong thing, for coming across too extreme on one side of an issue or the other, particularly in issues where my feelings aren't clearly formulated and so i'm wary of saying something that will be misunderstood and portray me in a way different from how i feel or perhaps immovably opinionated about an issue that, while i have some thoughts on it, are hardly definitive or non-negotiable.

further, i think that i don't often have responses ready when people ask me what i think is because i've been spending my time, not thinking about what i think about what they think, but simply listening.  and so i need time to then gather and formulate my own thoughts.  i'm not very good about keeping my opinions on-demand.  i'd like to be, though.  although i'm ok with being more ponderous, of thinking about what i think about something, and of rethinking my position each time, since new information and new understandings may have come since the last time i shared my thoughts.

by nature, i'm a peacemaker.  i'm usually not afraid to get a little messy if it will lead to a better healing in the end.  i don't like people who are overly active, who always have to be doing things and setting goals, who can't sit back and just let it be.  but i'm very afraid of being boring, of being dull, of being discarded because i come across as uninteresting or aimless.

this post is mostly just a by-product of talking on the phone tonight; a hodgepodge of thoughts and ponderances.  i'm tempted to schedule it for some time tomorrow morning, but i think i'll just put it up now and get to bed.


kwistin said...


you really are the boy version of me. for so many reasons. i realized that even more so tonight, while talking with some friends (while sitting on the curb of a street with guitar in hand around midnight) ...remind me to tell you about that. and also because of the latter part of this post. i could have probably just signed my name at the end.

also, did you know i'm about halfway through how to win friends and influence people? i've pondered the same things about intention, etc, but in the end i usually just think, "man, i'm glad i'm a decent person. these techniques could be really manipulative if i weren't." and i think the techniques just draw out parts of me that are already there (taking a genuine interest in people, etc). it's definitely another thing we should discuss sometime.

it's 2:13 am. wtheck. i'm off to bed so i can think about *maybe* functioning tomorrow.

Em said...

This is so me.
I don't take hard stances, because I never assume I know more about an issue than the people who disagree with me. I think there's something remarkable about people who can answer, "i don't know" in an honest and thoughtful way.
And I can't help but get all wrapped up in and interested in people.... without actually carrying my weight in conversations. Especially in groups larger than, oh 3 or 4.

The Former 786 said...

I'll echo what the others have said and say that I feel we are quite similar on many points here. Although I will admit that I do think about what i think about what they think as they're talking - sometimes to a fault. I have to remind myself that I need to listen to the whole story and not interject when I have something to add.

Also, I need to take stands more. Even if my stand is the opposite of someone else.