Friday, March 24, 2006

Interior life

You may have the power to force through the changes you want to see but with Mars and Jupiter at a rather dangerous angle to one another you will encourage opposition and, later on, those you have forced to do your bidding will in some way or other hit back at you. Persuasion is always better than compulsion. Remind yourself of that fact today.

Oh, dear. I am weary of persuasion. I recognize the need for a gentle touch, and I do respect my fellow creatures. But it can be such very hard work.

Communications is hard work for everyone. I keep reminding impatient colleagues that research shows that feckless, inattentive humans (that is all of us) do not hear a message the first time, the third, or sometimes even the tenth time. So we are not allowed to give up on our chosen audience until we have said the same thing ten times. Boring? Yes. We can’t invest in crafting, strategizing and multiple delivery of every message, but we must do the work to achieve the goal for the ones that are important enough.

Those of us who are introverts have so little desire to venture outside our own heads that we must learn technique to make those forays as fruitful as possible. We learn superior communication techniques in self-defense, so that we can spend as little time and energy as possible getting our messages across, with the reward of retreat back to the interior life.

Introverts are not exactly rare, but we are in the minority, some 20% of the population by most estimates. Why should we be surprised if people think us odd? And why should we care? For all the discomforts of standing on the sidelines while others are picked for teams or of being the wallflower at dances or of being the one in the office that people forget to invite out for drinks—for all that, we have the amazing gift that we are happy in our own company.

I tried, and failed, to explain this to my dental hygienist. “Please don’t keep asking if I am okay,” I pleaded. “I need to zone out. There is a lot going on inside my head, and if you talk to me, it spikes my anxiety—not what you were trying to do, I know.” She didn’t understand, but never mind. I will keep trying. Nine times to go, then I give up and change dentists. Well, not really. Why on earth would I accept care from a person who didn’t hear me after three or four times?

Analytical to a fault, I can divide the world into people who think I do too much to explain and communicate, and those who think I do too little. As I age and become more comfortable in my own skin, I am less patient with those who think that I need to do more and more and more to explain who I am or to be different. I have communications skills that are above average, skills in which I have invested to a significant degree—I know that. So I need to accept that people who do not hear my message simply may not agree with me—that’s really okay. And if they disagree angrily, it usually has nothing to do with me.

There were times in my life when I did not like myself much, although others preferred the more placid, people-pleasing version, and I changed. After a lifetime of being put in the wrong, I now take the Popeye position: I yam what I yam. Or more elegantly put, I am as God made me—introvert and all—and I like how I am.

All this self-knowledge does not change the fact that sometimes I just get tired. I have had a few weeks of a lot of demands from clients and colleagues for interaction—it wears on anyone, but especially on an introvert. I need a break.

As I write this, there is a flash of rust color at my vision’s edge. Robins—two of them, a whole flock of little grayish brown birds, and a stunning black and white striped woodpecker with a red head. The birds are back, so is the mud, and it is spring. Can flowers be far behind?

1 comment:

Katz said...

Ah-another star gazer. I read my horoscope daily also. I think I am right where you are now-finally "comfortable in my own skin". Of course, with the aging it becomes easier. I am tired of explaining my new self to people who have become used to the old me. I am tired of her. She needs to break through the cacoon and do as she wishes. Please visit my blog that I just started "Katz In The Kradle". Be kind-I am just beginning to let loose!