I can sometimes come across as abrupt. I know this about myself. Many people have met me and told me down the track that they didn’t think I liked them when we first met. I probably didn’t. It takes me a while to warm to people. Some people, that is. Others I am instant friends with. But with some people, it takes a bit longer. I’m wary of new people. I can’t help it, it’s just me.
Today I got told at work that someone had found me abrupt. The exact quote was that I “use an economy of words”. Apparently, I need to use an “abundance of words”. It wasn’t an attack on me. My boss doesn’t see me as a standoffish or rude person, just that I’m usually really, really busy and don’t necessarily waste time on the pleasantries. Plus most of the people I’m calling are also busy so I would never think they’d want to spend heaps of time on the phone swapping stories about my weekend and their kids. Turns out there’s a happy medium.
I’ve gotten this feedback before in previous roles (and in this role). Usually, I get told about it, I make adjustments and everything’s ok. It’s not my natural way of communicating though so, when I’m made conscious of the need to change, the new style often feels overly friendly and even a little fake to me. But, if that’s what people need, so be it. The clincher today is that it was my boss’ wife who this to him, which upset me a bit because I remember the conversation and I thought I was particularly friendly. *sigh* Which just goes to show that you really can’t please everybody, can you? One person’s friendly is another person’s ‘economy of words’.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think she complained to him. I think he asked her and she was honest, which is fine. If I came across as abrupt or too busy to her, then it’s definitely my issue and I should never make anyone feel that way. It’s just a hard thing to hear when you honestly don’t think you did anything wrong. I even felt myself tearing up the tiniest of bits when he told me because I was so frustrated, so upset that I thought I was being my friendliest self and still someone thought it wasn’t good enough. And when I say frustrated and upset, it’s with me because I’m clearly just not good at this ‘people’ stuff (sometimes).
Just for the record, I would never cry at work (unless something fucking horrendous happened or I got some really bad personal news). When I get negative feedback, I always take it on board logically then go home and obsess over it like a motherfucker until I’ve sorted everything through in my head. For decent amount of time, it bothers me and then I think, “Ok enough! Get your shit together and make sure it doesn’t happen again!” That’ll happen here soon enough, it’s just quite fresh right now so I need to calm down and let the emotion fade away. I swear, dealing with people is the hardest thing of all.
Image credit: North Kansas City Hospital