Some time ago, while chatting with fellow lecturers, someone quoted me as an example of diplomacy. I can imagine a benevolent giant hand swinging down from the clouds to give me a huge pat on the back. At the professional/technical level, yes, it was part of my training to do so; but at a personal level, oooooh that is such a lovely compliment!
I’m an Aries and I’m fiery. At a personal level, my primal instincts take me on a path of brashness and aggression. That is probably why I write better than I converse? Or maybe that should have been in the past tense, when I was younger, I had no idea how to temper my personality. Or maybe having the question of “am I still authentic if I temper my personality?” Going through some hard knocks in life taught me that taking the bull by the horns is different from bashing through metre-thick concrete walls. And that velvet gloves can soften the impacts of iron fists, and soft approach matters even when we have to harden our stand on certain grounds/principles. Buy-in matters, and it is not hypocrisy when the objective is achieving an overall-win for diverse voices.
Took me years to understand that! Took me years to understand so many nuances in life, and I guess it is good that I welcome positive change and recalibration of my perspective.
I meant to blog about this yesterday, but got too happy with the rainbow connection, I wanted to enjoy the magic a little longer. 😀
I was (still am?) having a little problem with someone who seems to be constantly trying to flex his (ego) muscle. How does one maintain diplomacy if someone just wants to pick on every word with the negative perspective of it? If you cannot handle some online tool, I am very happy to teach when I can. But while I am showing how it is done, this person was more focussed on what he was doing “right” and that incessant flexing of ego does not help me see where the problem is! (Too noisy, basically). And I discovered one trait I have, a very counterintuitive instinct, is that the noisier the other side of the conversation gets, the softer I will speak. (Because, too noisy!!). Keeping myself soft seems to help calibrate the frequencies for myself and I could calmly (yay!) figure out what went wrong, where the problem was, and solve it. So I guess my instincts have evolved from ATTTACCCCKKKKKK … to … n..i..n..j..a….
I am very glad that all the conversations, be they virtually over WhatsApp or physically in person, has someone else in there! I feel more supported when there is someone else hearing and seeing where the discussion is going.
The rest of this post is going to be alot of rants. Beware!
So, when this dude was asking about another app, I thought it was because he was asking what it was about. So I explained. Oh gosh, that was another mistake I tripped over. He started flexing his ego again and started saying that he knows what that app is for, he has been using it blahblahblah, and that he was surprised by how the other guy was using it for such weird use. Hmm. It is not weird, my team use it in that manner when we had no other choice. Hmm. I don’t know, my interim conclusion is just that his insecurities surfaced and he had to flex his muscles to show off that he knows? Shrugs. We kept quiet after that, I suppose we had more important work on our hands to deal with than to fight over how an app is used. As long as it solves my problem, I will try all kinds of tools and methods. Maybe that is what innovation is about! Hmpf!!!
When we went to lunch, the flexing continued, mainly over similar narrative as above. I prepare my lectures every week, because after every class, I would think/contemplate about the questions the students posed or my understanding of the problems they faced based on the way they presented their ideas. After which, I would think about what is the best way to explain to them so they understand better. So based on the problems they faced last semester, I pitched the first lesson to help them understand the bigger picture so that they are not stuck in their little pigeon holes of thinking. Had they faced other kinds of problems, this first lesson would have been pitched differently with a different set of contents. It is tiring for me, because I don’t re-use course notes year after year because the students (and the problems they face) are different. The framework remains more or less the same, but the contents always differ. But this is the kind of pedagogy (Waldorf/Steiner/anthroposophical) that I believe in and follow as a philosophy, and I am very willing to do that. I believe in developing minds and character more than just teaching knowledge.
Back to the flexing .. so he was saying he was very surprised that I was teaching design thinking to the students and that he was going to propose to the school that he wants to teach that as a module. There are many gaps and flaws to this statement, but I really cannot be bothered to jot it down in detail here. But it did help me come to a conclusion that the succinct way to understand what the heck was going on what that he was just trying to flex his (ego) muscle.
For weeks, I had been trying to understand what the heck is going on so that I can respond “correctly”. But if everything I say turns into somewhat of an abrasion to the other party, then it absolutely makes no sense. I genuinely only want to help, but if a person is insecure and takes everything negatively, then it is really beyond me. I will still try in what I intuit to be the best approach (to help or not to help) each time, but I will also be kinder to myself and stop wondering what is wrong. He can feel / take whatever negativity he wants to view from, and it is really not my problem. I’m not in a competition here, I am just trying my best to be the best person I can be in the circumstances I am in.
Ah well. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
(Applies both ways, because sometimes I don’t see the real lesson(s) until much later…)