This is stuff I think/worry about all the time. In the past couple of weeks, it’s felt to me like (a) I get less and less personal e-mails, (b) I get told to do more stuff at work as opposed to being able to chime in on directions of ideas, and (c) my in-laws are a total train wreck right now and I have some ideas to help (because I’ve been through stuff with my own family) but I always get the ol’ “You don’t understand” from that side. So, I go through a lot of pockets of time where I think “Damn, no one listens to me” or “Damn, no one understands me.”
These are dangerous ways to feel, because you leave yourself open to putting yourself on the cross as well — “Oh My God, No One Understands Me!” The true fact of the matter is that no one really understands anyone else, even their family and their spouse. We’re all just faking it ’till we make it to some extent.
Here’s an article on that. It’s long, but good. Think about this part to start:
And yet no one is entirely unknowable either. In fact, some of us are actually easier to understand than others. These people seem to express themselves in ways that allow others to perceive them more accurately. Psychologists refer to this as being more or less “judgeable,” or as personality expert David Funder calls it, being a “good target.” What actually makes someone more judgeable? Funder has argued that in order for people to be accurate in their assessments of someone else, four things need to happen. The target must (1) make information available and (2) make sure that information is relevant. Then, the perceiver must (3) detect, or pay attention to that information and (4) use it correctly.
Look at the bottom there. In terms of someone “getting” you, there’s two things you have to do and two things they have to do:
- You gotta make information available — which almost no one does at the highest, most vulnerable level
- You gotta make sure that information is relevant — which it might be in personal context, but probably never is at work (“managing up”)
- They gotta pay attention to the information — which almost never happens
- They gotta use the information correctly — again, most people take info they don’t like and assume it’s an attack. They don’t process it properly. (Happens the same way with info they do like.)
You probably have a better chance of seeing a unicorn making you morning coffee than those four things happening in a given person-to-person interaction. At work, that unicorn would probably be singing a U2 song next to Bono before all four would happen.
Here’s the key sentence of this entire article:
There is just too much going on, too much to notice, understand, and act on for us to give every individual and every occurrence our undivided, unbiased attention.
Yep. The sad thing is, there really isn’t as much going on as we think. Culturally, we kinda made “Being Busy” into a currency. People who don’t feel busy feel inadequate or lesser. So we all incessantly talk about it and are quick to remind others how busy we are, how much stuff we have going on, all that. That, in turn, makes us feel like we can’t notice everything around us. So we notice things quickly and stick with them; that’s called “confirmation bias,” and it’s the core reason why your work life sucks and your relationship with your parents is fucked.
Life should ideally be a bit more structured around ideas like “Stop And Think” or “Go take a walk.” Just get out of your headspace for a second and realize that things and people aren’t necessarily the way you see them. Re-evaluate a few things. Go. Try it. That said, I realize you’re probably running to your 1:30…