It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it

True. And, sometimes you don’t even notice someone’s reaction when you hurt their feelings in some way, or chew them out unnecessarily. Happened to me this morning; I accidentally snapped at a co-worker and didn’t even realise I’d done it until we were joking about it in the kitchen later. Oops. But boy when you DO notice, you’ve probably really gone overboard.
Maybe it’s just a week for people to be ‘going postal’ as we say in America.
Actually, as I mentioned on Twitter this morning, what you say is also important. The tone, and the specific message. There’s constructive criticism, and then there’s just plain criticism. Criticism without a solution is kind of useless, huh? And even constructive criticism must be actionable, and given to receptive ears. If I tell someone something they are not ready to hear, it’s going to go on deaf ears (What? I’m not a bad driver!! You’re telling me my road rage could be dangerous and is really only hurting me??!!?).
But, this is somewhat particular to me, but I have a real personal issue with tone. I think it comes from being talked down to as a child. I have always, ALWAYS hated it when I detect a lack of respect in the tone of voice with which I am addressed. Like back in the dotcom days people would underestimate me because I was young, and female. Ad hominem. Big mistake. And just because the girl can’t write Java doesn’t mean she can’t call bullshit on a bunch of developers. Sometimes the best stuff can come from where you least expect it, for one thing, and for another: be careful who and what you underestimate.
Once in high school I got into trouble because I was supposed to clear the trays after seated meal or some such, and I didn’t do it. And they did the St Paul’s equivalent of grounding me, which I decided to ignore, because the reason I didn’t do it was that the medical trainers had told me not to (I had some injury or other …. Sounds familiar, right??). I thought that a miscommunication between departments should not be taken out on me. I stand by that, although I’m a bit more mature now to take responsibility for making sure that everyone was on the same page rather than just rocking the boat by disobeying what I thought was an unfair punishment.
Odd as it sounds, this is one of the big areas of breakdown between me and Rob. There are only so many times I can say: ‘Even if you’re angry with me, use a respectful tone and don’t be condescending.’ Unfortunately, as my Myers-Briggs ‘J’ element will tell you, there’s only so many times that you can exhibit a certain behaviour before I just snap. And when I snap man, it ain’t pretty.
I carry a lot of tension in my shoulders and my jaw (and also my quads). Why is another matter, but some of it has to do with keeping my damn trap shut. My mouth gets me into a lot of trouble sometimes, but keeping quiet when I really want to say something causes physical stress to my body. A classic Catch-22.
I also had insomnia last night, and quite badly. I haven’t had insomnia since I learned Mindscape, but last night I woke up at 1am and couldn’t get back to sleep until 3, despite trying every trick in the book. I was on a bit of a warpath all day, and by late evening it had reached a peak and I was barely able to meditate properly, which of course was making me even more worked up (ahh the irony).
Probably it’s just CrossFit-related stress. I guess that’s the problem with attachment.
But you know, another thing about me, and I’ve said this before, is to make me a little bit angry. Nothing to get me moving like making me a little bit angry. Guilt doesn’t really do it for me. Anger does. Whatever works I guess.
I like to see progress and results. That’s why I love CrossFit, and also why I recently decided that I am no longer digging the yoga like I used to. The kundalini yoga is all about self-discovery blah blah, and I used to have all these cool epiphanies while doing yoga because the combo of breath & movement made me calm and cleared my mind. But since I learned Mindscape if I want a specific insight, I just go and get it, and since I’ve started qigong if I want to relax I just go and do that. Except for when I’m too worked up for my level of skill. But still, the yoga’s fun. Not everything in life needs to have a measurable purpose.
I can’t quite decide whether I’d rather be thought of as really good or really mediocre. Because I’m both. So am I stubborn, or strong-willed? Both? Neither? Does it matter? Eh, probably not.
So I’ve been screwing this up as much as the next person, and probably worse, but here is my advice about how to improve people around you:
  • Make sure your feedback is constructive
  • Make sure your feedback is respectful
  • Make sure you offer a solution (if at all possible)
It’s like that old saying: ‘Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.’ Right?
But I tell you one thing, from Monday meetings are going to start on time. And another: I’m sick of being annoyed that things aren’t moving. So I’ll take a dose of my own medicine and either move them along or quit whining about it.
  • “And you can be [indimidating]!” – Zibele
  • “And I told him: ‘Well, you haven’t met Ellie. She’s American.’” – Mandy
  • “Well let’s hope they pick ones that …. Favour you.” – Anton


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