conflicts, and contradictions – advice, etc. – welcome to being human – ugh!

So, no shortage of highly – or at least quite apparently – contradicting “advice” and the like. On what, where, how? Mostly on the social interaction stuff – making friends, meeting/connecting with women, etc.

So, some of the many quite typical examples. Some/many of which come from rather to highly trusted/regarded source(s), in some cases much of rather to quite the same from multiple – even numerous sources.

  • be all these things you’re (often/typically/sometimes) not
    • be happy/cheerful/positive
    • have multiple friends, and esecially have them around you when you go out
    • be bold
    • be assertive
    • be confident
    • don’t be shy
    • speak clearly and rather loudly – enough to always be clearly heard, never mumble, everyone you intend to have hear you should always hear you and clearly so
    • dress to kill, not just “good”, but bump it up several notches
    • be comfortable
    • be relaxed
    • make eye contact
    • don’t get distracted
    • don’t hesitate
    • don’t mess it up
    • learn and know peoples’ names well and almost always refer to people by their names
    • stand out from the crowd – in positive ways
    • put yourself out there more – say more, risk more, tell more about yourself, go (well) beyond idle chit-chat and what’s “safe”
    • try harder
    • shut the hell up – don’t say/talk so much, listen, be quiet, nobody really wants to hear about you anyway, don’t talk about your personal stuff, nobody cares
    • don’t try so hard!
    • lie, don’t be so truthful; lie a lot if need be – most of the time people don’t want to hear the truth
  • And above all, be yourself

Oy, what a mess, eh?

Happy, cheerful? Positive? Eh, my mood varies. Typically in relatively neutral (to slightly positive) territory, give or take a bit. And more likely to be relatively down if I feel rather to quite alone, lonely, isolated, etc. Buggers, eh? So, … to better meet/connect with more people, be happy/cheerful – as if I already had those connections I’m trying to make. Doesn’t exactly work very well that way, huh? Fake it? Oh, I rather suck at that. How I actually feel tends to leak/bleed through enough, faking it will generally tend to more so backfire than not – tends to mostly just make things worse. I’ll give a random example that illustrates that and a couple other points.

Multiple friends? Go out with them together? I barely have any friends, let alone multiple friends.  (My 50th birthday, how many friends and family members did I spend it with?  Okay, on that day, how many people did I see or meet with at all, that I actually even know at all?  Yeah, zero – precisely and exactly zero.)  And I’ve never been the gregarious type. I don’t generally even like going out and hanging with a bunch of people – even if they’re friends. And for the most part, probably most all the friends I’ve ever had, have also not been the gregarious type. So, me hangin’ with a bunch of friends on any kind of regular or frequent basis – if at all – and having a good time at it at that – just generally not a fit for me – or for that matter really most or all of any friends I’ve ever had – and maybe the case for most or all friends I ever even will have. Multiple friends. Egad. Yeah. Right. Rather recently passed my 50th birthday. How many folks did I hear from on that day? Four. Four people on the whole planet contacted me – and half of those in the immediate family or friend of family cohabitating with same. So, yeah, only 1/3 (grand total of 1) of immediate family even contacted me on my 50th birthday, one person living with same did (probably more of expectation/”obligation” than not), and 2 that I could count as friends (or closest I’ve got to such). That was it. Nobody else, at all. And zero of them in person – at least on that day (but hey, at least one within a couple days – that was quite nice at least). Yeah, right, go out with bunch of friends together as a group.  Sure. I’ve so few friends (or better, even relationships), that most of ’em have never met any of the others, and if so exceedingly rarely so – e.g. like maybe once, and never more than that, and not even meeting all of them – at most, maybe over half or so. Damn, I’m still trying to even make it up to so much as one really quite good friend (or better) … been trying hard for well over a year now, and still not there yet (maybe sort’a kind’a close with one? … yet at the same time also highly not with that same one – and closer to a year than not, that I’ve known that person – and certainly no shortage of effort/trying there).

Assertive? Confident? I tend to be a lot more tentative, and not pushy. Confident? Certainly not overly so. Confidence level varies a lot – probably depends upon what I’m talking about and also context – e.g. to who. Generally speaking, I’m not that big/high on confidence levels – and too much doesn’t serve me well – certainly don’t need over-inflated ego – tends to come off as arrogant – e.g. often whenever my confidence/ego is running on the (too) high side.

Don’t be shy? Uhm, … but I am. I can sort’a kind’a fake not being shy … to some extent – at least moderately, … but much more than that and it tends to horribly backfire. Like coming off as a bumbling nervous non-shy tends to work a lot less than coming off as rather shy.  Or, I come off as far too babbling/talkative/rambling – that also tends to work out quite not well.

Speak clearly/loudly. My voice just isn’t that loud. Perhaps in part because I just don’t exercise it that much (can easily go a week with negligible occasions to speak at all, let alone have a dialog/conversation, and often days or more when I have precisely no occasion to so much as utter a single word), but regardless, is what it is – my voice is not that loud – don’t think it ever has been. And I’m more likely to speak yet more softly if I’m not as or so confident about what I’m saying or asking or whatever, or even just as generally sure about it or whatever. Also, the longer I talk, the weaker my voice gets. So, yeah, e.g. half hour or more talking at what is, even for me, relatively moderate volume, my voice gets weaker. Want to have me give some technical talk to a bunch ‘o folks? Sure, I can do that but better have a PA system or the like, or in short order, only about a half dozen or so folks, at most, sitting quite close, and if they and the environment are rather to quite quiet, are going to manage to hear most or all of what I say.

Dress to kill, blah, blah. I mostly dress for comfort and functionality. Not (generally) like a slob, but I don’t especially dress up all that much – and mostly tend to be rather to quite uncomfortable when I do. Random example – went to interview, in suit – typically do for interview. Got call back, they wanted 2nd interview – I think next day after they called back – very shortly anyway. I basically said, I could, but alas, my suit was at the cleaners and wouldn’t be ready by then. They said, no matter, that’s fine. So I went for 2nd interview. One of the very first remarks I got? “Ah, you look much more comfortable.” Duh! Probably because I was much more comfortable not stuck in suit. And yes, they made me the job offer following that 2nd interview. So, yeah, I can dress reasonably nice, and generally do as relatively appropriate to/for the occasion. But, … much more than that, and I’m going to feel rather to quite uncomfortable, and it’s generally going to rather to quite show. So generally speaking, I don’t think that serves me well – particularly for social occasions – at least in general, or going to meet or hoping to meet folks.

Be comfortable / be relaxed. Well, I am, or I’m not – mostly depends on circumstances. It’s not like there’s generally a whole lot about it I can do to be/feel more comfortable when I’m not comfortable. Often, e.g. it’s how much I don’t know the folks I’m meeting or interacting with and/or just don’t know ’em enough to trust them, or trust them that much. That’s going to rather to quite limit how comfortable I can be – especially in regards to what we might be or potentially be talking about. I tend to come/be relatively relaxed, but a whole lot of that quite depends upon circumstances, interactions, expectations, etc.

Make eye contact. Yeah, I rather suck at that. Attempting to work on and improve that, but we’ll see how that goes. Probably the biggest problem I have there – and interrelates into some other problems – I tend to get highly distracted watching or looking at folks as I talk to them. E.g. if I look at someone as I’m talking to them, and their facial expression changes or they move or whatever, it tends to distract me and I often lose my train of thought, often quite entirely. I don’t know why that is, but it is. Self-consciousness? Perhaps, or perhaps in part, but I don’t think so – at least not mostly or primarily. Much/most of the time I think I’m rather to highly unconcerned with their reactions to or what they think of or about what I’m saying. But even when that’s highly the case, I find any reactions or motion or movement highly distracting, and it tends to rather to totally blow my train of thought. So, yeah, a whole lot of the time when talking to folks – even just a single individual one-on-one, I don’t look at them – certainly at least not as I’m talking. Whole heck of a lot easier for me to talk on/about whatever, when I’m not looking at someone. If I’m looking at ’em, and they so much as blink or flinch, I tend to get distracted by the movement or change, and quite forget what I was saying or attempting to say. So, … not really sure how to improve that or what that does or would take. I’m trying to at least occasionally glance at ’em as an improvement when I’m talking to ’em … we’ll see how well that goes, and if I can manage to without getting distracted and totally losing my train of thought.  I seem to do okay(ish) on eye contact when I’m not talking or attempting to talk. At least as far as I know, anyway. Not 100% sure on that, though.

Don’t get distracted. Uhm, yeah, if nobody blinked or moved at all – even in the slightest change of expression, that would be much easier for me. So, … how do I not get distracted by what distracts me? Or is that an oxymoronic question? Certainly that’s not all that distracts me, but probably the most notable in social context. Other conversations, motions, sounds, etc. will distract me too. Some more than others, … some quite break my concentration / train of thought … others not so much so or not nearly as commonly. Random chatter will often rather to quite break my flow of thought / concentration. Sometimes just various stuff bouncing around in my head is more than enough to distract and break my concentration or train of thought, and sometimes(/often?) such that I totally lose that train of thought … at least for a significant while, often at minimum.

Don’t hesitate. I tend to hesitate, … a lot. Often thinking and rethinking possibilities before acting or saying. In a whole lot of regards, that tends to work better – e.g. what’s done, or said, much better and/or more appropriate. But definitely has its significant/major downsides too. Namely untimely. Too late, and, well, it often just doesn’t fit, or doesn’t fit anymore – the conversation has moved on, or the opportunity has passed, or optimal timing on the opportunity has (long since) passed – even if that’s only 3 or 5 or 10 or 15 or 60 seconds, … just too late, in many cases. And, if/when I don’t hesitate, it often not only comes out in sub-optimal form, but often rather to quite a mess – e.g. fails miserably, as not coming off as intended, or as something better left unsaid, or done differently than it was – or better not done at all, or just comes out way too awkward and/or incomplete – really just a “half-baked” thought – and it shows.

Don’t mess it up. Uhm, yeah, right. And be spontaneous and don’t hesitate? Uhm, … you’re talking about someone else, right, not me? Doesn’t work for me. Might maybe work better if I was rather to quite adept at the quick recovery, but if I screw it up, I don’t exactly manage to come up with some quick way to “fix” and/or recover from that. Heck, I might not even notice or know I messed it up until it’s rather to quite too late.

Names. I quite suck at remembering names – especially more common first names. Heck, sometimes I’m surprised I even remember and respond to my own name. Uhm, yeah, if someone addresses me as “Mike” instead of “Michael”, I may often quite not even notice they’re attempting to address me. There is a reason I always introduce myself as “Michael”, and never as “Mike”. Regardless, some folks will start addressing me as “Mike” despite that (okay, maybe they too suck at names or whatever). But I digress. Yes, I quite suck at remembering names. I’m much better at remembering less common names, e.g. last names, than first names. Many folks I know I can’t think of their first names until I recall their last names – then I can recall their first names. Unfortunately many environments – especially social – put lots more emphasis on first names – and often don’t even make mention of last names. Heck, even folks I know rather to quite well I often have difficulty recalling their names – and that tends to be worse under stress (like actually trying to say “hi” to them or get their attention, especially on-the-fly). Yeah, someone can introduce themselves to me and start talking with me – 30 seconds into the conversation I won’t remember their name, or I’ll be highly unsure of it. And I’ll typically mostly avoid addressing folks by name. Not only because I often don’t recall the name – certainly at least quickly, but because too, I’ll often recall it incorrectly – particularly if I do it quickly and don’t try to at least double-check myself on it first. E.g. random example. Small (like way under half a dozen) close work group at work, been working with most of all the same folks in that group well over 4 years. Go to quickly address one of ’em that I’ve been working with for over 4 years by name without bothering to think a bit carefully about it first, and I totally blow it, using name of another peer (who wasn’t even in the vicinity at the time, and who I’ve also been working with for over 4 years) rather than the one I intended to address. So, yeah, I often try to not use names, if/when/as I can manage to get away with it – sure, often rather/somewhat awkward, but less so than very obviously failing to recall their name, or worse yet call them by someone else’s name – ugh. Maybe that’s also yet another reason I quite prefer one-on-one. Mostly don’t need to use name in that context, as who one is addressing is generally quite clear in that context – at least most all the time.

Random example – be happy/cheerful/positive (or fake it), don’t hesitate. So, run across relatively new neighbor I barely know at all (can’t hardly remember name – messed it up the first time I tried to recall it when encountering neighbor – still can’t remember it off-the-top-of-my-head, but I did note it, so at least I can look it up and refer to it). Anyway, I basically say something like, “Hi, how’s it going?” And neighbor rattles on a bit about how she’s doing/feeling, what she’s been up to to, then wraps up with something quite like, “And how are you?” And I, quite instinctively respond with “Fine, thanks, how are you?” And she starts awkwardly responding and telling me a bit more, but mostly redundantly, about how she’s doing, as I realize, no f*cking way am I particularly close to “fine”, quite feel like crud really, and not only did I quite lie rather unintentionally, but totally stupidly and redundantly with my “how are you?” rather identically again, … and didn’t at all catch it fast enough to “recover” – way too late for an “oops, I just asked you that” – she was long into repeating herself before I realized I’d done that. So, already looking quite stuid on it, I essentially just played dumb as if I’d not even noticed my highly redundant questioning (and her awkwardness to it). And somehow just awkwardly wrapped up from that, and moved on (literally away from her). So, … don’t hesitate – yeah, like not hesitating and reacting instinctively did me a lot of good there, ugh, … not! Fake it? Oh, like my “fine”, and instantly turning it around served me (or her) well? Nope, fail. Maybe not give her all the gory details of how crudy and why, but geez, could’a been at least a fair bit more truthful and genuine, e.g. maybe something like, “Oh, … been better, but hangin’ in there, … things will get better.”. But, nope, didn’t hesitate, didn’t really think it through at all. And yes, did mess it up! – Quite so. Ugh. And no, I couldn’t remember her name from earlier – even though she’d told me at least twice before. Heck, still can’t remember it, though I’ve reviewed it probably at least a half dozen times, if not at least a dozen times or more. I can remember the first letter of her first name, and the names of her cats that she’s told me, but her name? No, can’t remember.

Stand out from the crowd in positive ways.  For the most part, I really don’t want to stand out – positively or negatively.  I prefer to do good, be the best I can be, etc., as feasible, but without drawing the attention to myself.  So, “stand out from the crowd” – particular in ways (easily) noticed – I tend to quite not want to do that, tends to generally go against my nature, desires, philosophy, etc.

Put myself out there more.  Yeah, that’s a hard one, in multiple ways.  E.g. being more “exposed”, putting out more personal stuff, etc.  Rather to quite hard to do that, without being rather to quite comfortable (and trusting of, and justifiably so) of the person(s) I’m putting such out to and sharing such with.  Also, just hard to generally be/get out there – more social interaction, more folks, etc.  I really just don’t “do” group social situations well or generally feel comfortable or particularly comfortable with them.  Alas, rather a Catch-22.  Do kind’a rather need to be more “exposed”, put more personal stuff out there – if nothing else, to put out there as “feelers” – better feel/judge reactions, figure out who I am and/or can rather to quite be comfortable with – quite a bit harder to figure that out if I put “nothing” out there, or nothing of more significant/substantial “substance” (and “risk” – at least some).  And do need to work on and improve the (especially group) social interactions and such.  Though I do much better (and more comfortably) at one-on-one, whole lot of (perhaps most, or maybe even nearly all?) one-on-one opportunities come via, or generally would come via, group social interactions – if I’m in fact doing – and more notably better doing the group social interactions.  So, yeah, I really need to improve and keep working on those things.  Find ways to better put myself “out there” more – both risking/exposing more (in reasonably tolerable and appropriate ways), and just being out there more socially – most notably group social situations/interactions.

Try harder.  Well, really not only that, but more notably, need to (also) do so more effectively.  Sometimes trying too hard can backfire – sometimes even rather horribly so.  Anyway, need to keep working on that – try harder – and do more, but even more notably, do it more effectively.  So, … need to work very much on not only how much, when, where, etc., but also how.  Certainly some ways will be much better than others – and I still need to much better figure out and better optimize what works, and works well, and burn lots less time/energy/attention/stress/etc. on what doesn’t work, or is (mostly) comparatively ineffective.

Shut the hell up.  And talk more.  Huh?  Yeah, right … really.  I need to much better know when to stop, slow down, etc. – how to react.  And also put more out there, say more, risk/expose more.  Seems quite a whole lot is mostly either (far) too little (saying nothing at all or little of substance, too slow, too shy, too hesitant, etc.), or … too much!  Get going and ramble/babble on, much beyond what most want/wish to hear or can reasonably follow and best appreciate.  So, gotta get those “levels” right – and much better adjust optimal for timing/situation/circumstances, reactions, and how those reactions go/change/evolve along the way.  Need to “listen” (much) better – but more notably pick up a whole lot better on the feedback/reactions in general – and not just the words – intonation, body language, expressions, etc.  All that’s communicated in the many various ways.

Don’t try so hard.  Yeah, pushing/trying too hard can backfire, in numerous ways.  Need the “just right” approach/levels … or at least something fairly close to that … or … whole helluva lot closer than I’ve been doing, anyway.

Lie.  Egad.  Uhm, yeah, that does not work for me!  Again, quite goes against my nature, philosophy, objectives, etc.  However, even within the bounds of being truthful / not lying, I could do much better there!  Truth / not lying is one thing, however, I can be highly selective about what truths I tell, how much, how, etc., and what I don’t say.  E.g. I’m pretty darn adept at that for matters such as protecting the privacy of others.  I need to learn how to much better do that “for myself” … not so much “for myself” per se, but more so to optimize interactions and connections for anyone I’m communicating with.  E.g. what’s optimal, and even what they do and likely may most prefer, is often not going to be absolute total unfiltered unreserved truth about anything and everything about me.  Often folks just don’t want to know that much – or at least start out with so much truth, directness, and lack of withholding or of holding (hardly) anything back.  So, need to learn to much better optimize that for the most beneficial net overall results.  After all, it’s not just me that benefits from such, and there’s not just the short term, but also the much longer term – and getting to those results that is also quite to highly important.  So, need to work that whole “process” much better, and, to get and feel highly comfortable with it – e.g. to not feel that I’m “holding back too much when I shouldn’t”.  Really need to much better optimize how I’m “dosing”/exposing someone to me – how much, what, how fast, etc.  Maybe much more so of a “kinder, gentler introduction”.  So, … more initially (at least quite enough to reasonably get things going – but not too much), but then also, not too much, too deep, too detailed, too direct/raw and unrestrained truths – especially too fast … work that at a more measured/”controlled”/reasonable pacing, and adjusting as appropriate at every step along the way.  Lie.  No.  I mostly quite refuse to lie – and also rather/quite suck at it.  Instead, really need to optimize the flow of truth.  E.g. avoid the drinking from the firehose dispensing method.  All, or too much at once – highly sub-optimal.  Not lies, no, don’t do that.  But, much more carefully measured doses/rates and “control of flow”.

Be yourself.  Yeah, rather/quite/highly important.  Be positive, when feeling (highly) negative, be truthful (don’t) lie, etc., etc.  A lot of complex and (apparently?) contradicting pieces to simultaneously reconcile.  But, it can be done.  I’m human, after all, and humans are quite a mass of walking, talking, breathing, contradiction.  So, should somehow be able to at least fairly reasonably simultaneously manage all those contradictions – or apparently contradictions – and come out with something quite reasonable regardless – and even rather to highly optimize that for the best obtainable results.  Okay, quite the challenge, and much easier said than done.  But it is possible, thus it can be done, so, … I best get working on it – at least as and to the extent feasible.

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