The regular challenges of explaining myself
Anyone who’s had any one single large conversation with me, knows that I generally — well — I speak my mind. This “unfiltered” set of texts and subtexts, also will tend to upset some people, very inevitably.
It’s like this:
The person I talk to goes, “this is fine.”
Then I go, “no I don’t think so”.
I used to be a people pleaser. Pleasers don’t say anything bad when they see someone say “it’s fine” while sitting in a burning house; pleasers smile or nod along, or, they say nothing at all, not mention the flames, and just carry on, desiring approval above all else.
But there was an important thing I had to learn, crystal clear, going into my late 20s, living a controversial life (living abroad) that was not what some stakeholders in my life, had expected.
People are simply way too different from each other to please ’em all.
And so, I am always going to upset someone, if I am acting consistently and not changing up my message per person who listens to me.
It becomes my job, in a sense, if I care about who that person is, to explain myself well, on Why I think what I think, because people want explanations if you are going to contradict them.
(These “debaters” are often the best of friends, because they improve your life on a meaningful level.)
And so, I find myself often carrying the task of explaining myself. When I decide if I want to tell someone exactly Why I said something I said, I find myself balancing against other options:
- I could succumb.
- I could saying almost anything else that can be slightly more appealing, and therefore attempt to simply appear appealing and easy-to-figure-out
- I could keep it short, and sweet, and attempt to move on to a different topic.
And yet, I realize, I could rob someone of some knowledge, insight (about myself, at least) by not explaining, thoughtfully and most of all accurately, exactly Why I think what I think.
Giving someone a distorted version of what is true for you, also leaves them worse off.
Ever had to be the manager who had to fire someone? I have had to be that manager before. It isn’t pretty, and you wish you didn’t have to do it, and sometimes you wish to tell them nothing at all, or that they are perfectly fine.
But, the problem is, you don’t set themselves up for success in their next job, or the job after that. And, if one cannot get professional feedback to become a better professional in their profession, then how can one go upward in their careers? I do not set anyone up well this way, or worse, I may set themselves to be worse, by telling them a “soft truth” that was sprinkled with a few, white lies.
It will only take them months, or years, to realize the pattern they pursued, and the thoughts I myself went through to deliver a softer blow. Which isn’t great.
So if I am merely going to insult further in the future, then let me insult less overall, by delivering the “tough love” honest answer, now, of why I think what I think, rather than waiting for it to reveal itself, via natural consequences and their own retrospective reflections, the mediocrity of my advice in the first place.
(I also believe this is why family tends to deliver the most honest feedback; that’s because they are there with you “for life”, and in that lifetime, they care about a much longer time frame of outcomes for oneself, more than say a casual friend or first date or one-time job interviewer would.)
I understand that feedback is a matter of timing, volume (small/directed is best), and proper material. People hate having their ways of doing things insulted, and the context of how a thing is said, needs to be set in words that they can resonate with.
Watching this ^ is simply painful.
And, more times than not, when I have survived such a tough conversation, the trust with that person has grown with me, and we anchor ourselves as Friends for Life. I am very grateful for all of my Friends for Life. They are the stone I can build bridges on.