Thursday, November 16, 2006

Compliments and Insults

The Story: Part One

A few weeks ago, PushPull Dance performed at the Arts and Letters Club. I produced the show and performed at the event. After our performance, we were asked to come and meet the club members for a sort of “meet and greet”. I think this was in part to allow us to sell our story to a captive audience as well as for them to try to talk to us about the benefits of joining the club and perhaps imbue the group with some youth. A small group of us went up and had a nice chat with quite a few of the club members – many of whom really enjoyed the show and some who were recalling their ‘dancing days’.

Afterward, one of the dancers (a much more insightful one than I) said how nice it was that we were able to come up and meet the audience post-performance. And I said “Yeah, it’s really great for us to be able to receive all the compliments. After all of our hard work, it’s very satisfying to know that the audience enjoyed and appreciated the effort”. And she said “No, I meant, how nice for the audience to actually be able to connect with the performers they had just watched. It must be nice for them to get that kind of energy from us. You don’t normally get that at a performance, since the stage can be so abstract and detached.” I really like compliments and had pretty well missed a key point, her point.

The Story: Part Two

As I mentioned, I had a particularly crappy day yesterday. I know that it is in part because conditions at work this week have been a bit less than ideal. But really – I think the main reason that I had such a hard time is because I got reprimanded twice and yelled at once. There’s about a year of back story to this, which I’m not going to get into right now. The bottom line is, I’ve gotten on the wrong side of a ‘Sarah Cherian-like’ colleague who just doesn’t like me anymore. I get no slack from her. She reports every single one of my mistakes to my supervisor and boss in a loud and angry fashion, demands that they speak to me about these issues and concerns, and then leaves angry email and phone messages for me. And out of all of this, the thing that bothers me most about the whole thing, is that negative (and in some cases erroneous) things are being said about me. Someone doesn’t like what I do, what I say, or how I act and this someone is not afraid to let the world know about it. It leaves me feeling upset – a heavy pit in my stomach – with the fear that somehow she’s going to convince other people that she’s right after all. In an attempt to placate and pacify, my boss sends me email asking me not make the same mistake in the future. Granted – it’s mostly a hollow reprimand meant for placating and pacifying a noisemaker. But it is a reprimand. I really hate being reprimanded.

The Story: Part Three

I figure, it’s high time to make a change. It used to be that I wouldn’t believe someone if they gave me a compliment. I just assumed that they were being nice because they felt like they had to be or that they were bias or something. But if someone said something mean – you’d bet I’d listen! I’ve mostly grown out of that. But still – at my age – I can’t seem to shake the effect that other people’s words have on me. I know that we should all strive to remember the compliments and forget the insults but is that realistic? Can it be done? More importantly, will I ever get there? Is my notion of success or failure still too closely entangled with what other people’s views are? Is yours? What if we never heard compliments or insults, could we derive our own sense of beauty, success, good?

If a tree falls in the forest, does anybody hear?

(Blog warning - those are 6 links up there of varying degrees of 'entertaining' and the last link there has explicit words in it. Beware.)

Talk to you soon,


1 comment:

kristin said...

re. part two - the germans call this "mobbing", although one single person can "mob" another. in english - bullying.