It has probably been clear from my posts but ever since we returned from Northstar, our lessons have gone to hell. She’s obviously been pissed at me and it comes through in the lesson. And, I had the dreadful Thursday night encounter when I felt like a fish that has just been gutted as she ripped into everything I did. This plus one other thing has lead to our recent lessons being full of tension and awkward silence and some rather sharp remarks from her which just caused more silence on my part. I think we are on the same wavelength because I went in last night intending not to dance but to talk things out because I was ready and the lessons weren’t fun at all. Her first comment was “we need to have a conversation” and I jumped on that. I will come back to that later but for now I’ll say it was mostly good and we both at least agreed that we want to keep working together which I wasn’t sure was going to be the outcome.
There are a couple of seemingly random things I need to cover first. They may or may not become relevant to the story but I think it will help you better understand how I process interactions with people. As I’ve said on many occasions, I am an introvert which means it is highly unlikely that I’m going to move beyond the “Hi”, “How are you” phase of casual conversation. I’ll respond when asked but, for the most part, I’m content to listen on the conversation and not try to interject myself. But I’m always processing things – this is just how my head works. Do you have people who you know who will ask about your weekend and then you start to tell them and they immediately launch into a description of everything they did over the weekend rather than responding to your words. That happens and my thought process is “OK, you really didn’t care about my weekend, you just wanted to talk about yourself”. Not really a problem for me but if it happens too often, all your ever going to get out of me is something like “Fine, how was yours”. In other words, I get that your opening is really just a way to steer the conversation back to you so I give you the option while keeping all my secrets. Since I figure you don’t care anyway, there is no harm done.
Actually, the more likely thing is when people ask about dancing. If I sense that you care, well then you’ll get more than you bargained for. (Never give an INTP an opening for a topic we are passionate about unless you’ve got a couple of hours to spend). If I sense that you are really just asking to be polite, then you’ll get a polite non-answer “Its all going fine”.
But it is also true in group conversations. Every now and then I’ll try to interject something that seems relevant but if the conversation just goes on as if I said nothing, then it is just easy for me to go into observer mode and just listen. It can be truly funny to watch a “conversation” between two people when each are just basically talking about themselves. I am sometimes tempted to ask person A what person B just said but I just take it all in and keep quiet and listen.
I can also be quite sensitive to how something is said not just what is said. Sometimes, this leads me the wrong way but I do tend to infer meaning more from the tone and/or other clues rather than the actual words. For example, my boss gives me a random “good job” and it comes across to me like an item on her too do list “(5) Give encouragement to an underling today”. Compliments that come across as fake simply do nothing for me. I want to believe that the person actually means what they are saying. To be fair, I am somewhat guilty of this when I’m offering fake sympathy. For example, I still get questions from people about the weight loss and when I tell them how I did it, I’ll get “I can’t do that because of ….”. In my mind, I’m thinking something like – Hey I made all those same excuses for years, knock it off and just do it. But I give them something like “yeah, it would be tough in your situation”. Why? Because that’s what they want to hear at that moment.
OK, so where does this leave us. Well it turns out that my reaction to the placements from Northstar didn’t sit well with her because I honestly couldn’t believe the good ones and so I started in talking about the judges must have missed something. This was in no way meant as a slight to her but that’s exactly how she took it and that is what started the death spiral. I talked about the Thursday lesson and what the criticism did to me and how it needed to be tempered with encouragement and did mention the lesson I did with OwnerGuy and why that went so well. I did even mention that there were days when she was offering “encouragement” but it didn’t come across as real so, yes, I didn’t take it seriously. The big problem is she wanted more feedback from me but I was responding to her negative feelings to me but just going silent and that didn’t help the situation.
There are still a couple of problems. One thing I noticed is that she tends to think in binary terms. So when I tell her that the criticism sent me over the edge, her response was to ask if I wanted her not to provide any feedback. Well that wouldn’t work either. I was trying to get across that it isn’t a yes/no thing. I expect some level of criticism but it can be delivered in a better way or balanced with true encouragement to make it easier to take. So we just have to work through and find the appropriate feedback loop so it doesn’t blow up into a big issue. Without my input, her natural inclination is to push and push hard and I just have to be able to speak up when it gets to be too much for me.
The second one is trickier and I’m writing it her hoping that will allow me to finally get over it. I mentioned that she made a comment that Monday lesson with OwnerGuy. I don’t know if she intended for me to hear it or not but I did. The comment by itself is not really that bad but the way it was delivered was. If I type it out here, it will seem minimal and you will wonder why I’m making a big deal out of it because I can’t recreate the tone of her voice and the other factors surrounding it. It left the impression that maybe she thinks less of my dancing than she lets on and her opinion of my dancing means the world to me. It has taken me a bit to figure it out, but that nerve is still pretty raw. I honestly don’t know if I should tell her or just hope that I can figure out how to work through it. We don’t have another lesson until the middle of next week so I’ve got some time to think about it.
I have learned to watch my words more carefully and I have to find a way to communicate more about how I’m feeling. She wants me to talk about goals and that is difficult. I’m really thinking the best thing to do is to treat that subject like a blog post and just put some thoughts down on paper because I think I do better at written communication than verbal. Although, given the jumbled mess that is this post, that may not entirely be true either. Oh well, the good news is that the NFL kicked off on Thursday so I’m already planning out sitting in front of the TV on Sunday watching games and keeping track of my fantasy team. I do love football season.