People and Connections

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One of the stereotypes about introverts is that we hate people and would prefer to spend all our time inside and isolated from the rest of the world.  I see that type of theme pop up a lot even in sites that are trying to be “friendly” to introverts.  There is some truth to that because we do need alone time to recover and it can be pretty stressful when we don’t get it.  There may be people who don’t truly value human contact but I can see at work that even some of the most introverted people do have one or two people that they love sharing time with.  Some of the stronger introverted thinkers find like minded people to share lunch with and I’ve heard snippets of their conversations.  Not for me, but it works for them.

I won’t try to generalize this to all introverted feelers but this is true for me.  Could also be the whole personality stack and the Idealist/Healer thing I’ve got going on.  When the Work Daughter was here last, she said something about how she forms strong emotional connections with people and that’s a concept I can relate to.  Some of it could certainly be familiarity but I do think it is much more than that.

It is why I can feel a sense of sadness and loss when my favorite barista leaves the coffee place for a new life adventure.

Now, I know I’m not unique here and that’s not why I’m saying this stuff.

What may be a bit different and maybe limited to us introverted feeling types is the desire for connections to others but not really liking the whole small talk thing.  Think about this for a minute.  In the course of your day, you probably have many small interactions with lots of people.  Go to the same location (like a coffee place) and you’ve probably had a chance to interact with the same person over a long period of time.

Now, when you are dealing with someone who is providing a service (like coffee), you can simply choose to ignore them.  After all, the contract is money for coffee and anything else is a bonus and not part of the deal.  This is not how I’m wired.  The person on the other end is a person.  Yes, they are accepting your money and providing the contracted service but they are also a person with their own hopes, dreams, desires and fears.  It just feels wrong to ignore them or be impolite.  At a restaurant, I always say “please” and “thank-you” for refills.  You sometimes get that most excellent ninja server that can refill a drink before you ask and almost without notice.  Even in the middle of conversation, I will typically stop to say “thank you”.  It wasn’t how I was raised, it is just who I am.  It feels right to me and that’s why I do it.  I try not to judge but I do think you can learn a lot about a person by how they treat people in these situations.

But it also depends on the other end.  I get my first coffee right after the place opens.  Some days, there is a lot going on and they are a little frazzled, so the best thing is to just stay out of the way.  And you run into a lot of introverts in these positions and I get that they aren’t comfortable with the whole small talk thing so I don’t push it.  That’s what a smart phone is for.  Get someone who is quietly making my coffee without seeming like they want to engage and I’ll just pull out my phone and find something to check just so they know that the silence is cool.

When they want to engage, I’m fine with it.  I do think everyone should be greeted with a smile which I try to do as well.  Yes, the small talk is uncomfortable for me because it isn’t something I do well but it is strange because I find people seem willing to open up to me.  In some ways, I can see all these connections physically.  You are surrounded by fibers or lines that connect you to the people you’ve met in the world.  Some are strong, some are weak.  Some break easily.  Some hold even when you are far apart and only “see” each other through social media or other means.  So I have these wires attached to a barista, or to the counter lady at the dry cleaners or to the pharmacy tech who fills my prescriptions.  So when I go into a place and see them, it instantly makes me happy.  When they aren’t there, it can be a bit of a let down.

And, it is most certainly true of dance instructors.  There is actually a much stronger connection.  Yes, I’m paying someone for a service and you always have to remember that it is a business transaction but I think it would be extremely difficult to remain at that level.  That is probably most true when you are doing pro-am and are in physical contact with that person for 45 minutes or so at least once a week.  I’ve said over and over that dancing is hard – physically, mentally and emotionally and you’ve got two people who are both coming to a lesson who may have had bad days and/or are dealing with things.  So that stuff leaks over into the lesson but I think that does help to form the strong connection.

Was Sunny the best instructor I’ve ever had?  No, I think that is clearly true.  When I said it makes my life easier it is because it takes away two dances and allows me to focus on everything else.  In the long run, I believe this is best but it is still not something I feel good about.  The abruptness and the silence always leaves unanswered questions.  Why would she throw all this away?  I know dancing is hard and being an instructor is even more difficult with all the practice time.  It probably does cut into your life a lot more than other jobs since you are busy every night and there was a lot of staff training and things that happened on weekends.  Plus, you end up having to be a salesman which isn’t easy.  You may love dancing but having to push it on people might take the fun away.  And, there is the emotional part of it which I struggle with and might be even harder for someone much younger without a lot of experience with people.  It would be nice to have an opportunity to have that conversation.

I do remember Hilde asking me why I was wasting my money taking lessons with Sunny.  The answer is somewhat complicated but I just considered the potential benefit of the new experience worth the cost.  Was it??  On the whole, I’d say it was.  We did a great Quickstep routine that was a lot of fun and it may have inspired another couple to want to do Quickstep.  There were other frustrations and bad things but, in the end, we did a really nice solo and we did some other heats in both Quickstep and Argentine Tango that were fun to do and that people really enjoyed.  I dance because of how it makes me feel but there is that other part of me that loves using dance to entertain and because when I do something that people enjoy, then it makes them feel good.  We accomplished that.  On balance, that makes it a positive experience.  I’d like her to know that as well.


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