I love watching Project Runway (see Georgina Chapman Talks about Creative Breakdowns, 5 Self-Help Lessons I Learned from Reality TV) not just for the awesome clothes but also for the lessons about human behavior and human relationships. Recently, I caught up with season 14, and at first I thought the life lesson was along the lines of hell is other people, but then I realized something a little more inspirational. People who hate you will hate you, and people who like you will like you. That’s inspirational? Let me explain.
I’ve always been insecure about my social skills. I’m not charismatic, and in long periods of my life, I was painfully shy. This is why when I read this quote in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, I got really inspired. The quote goes:
What you are shouts so loudly in my ear, I cannot hear what you say -Ralph Waldo Emerson
I watched this Ted Talk by Kio Stark entitled Why you should talk to strangers. Of course she’s not talking about how it’s ok for men to harass women. She’s proposing that we talk to each other for real and to form a connection with each other even in that fleeting moment. So why do I like this talk so much?
People think that How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is a guidebook for manipulation, but they are gravely mistaken. If you read the book carefully, there’s a line there that says “I am not suggesting flattery. I’m talking about a new way of life.” That new way of life means understanding that “criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself”. He also says, “instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism and it breeds sympathy, tolerance, and kindness.”
There was only one period of my life when I talked to neighbors. I was a kid, and we had neighbors named Valerie and I forgot the other one. They were the only neighbors that I played with. After that, whenever my mom would encourage me to play with the neighbors, I would say, Ma, I don’t have to befriend the world. I still don’t talk to my neighbors these days, and now I’m wondering why.
Honesty has become an integral part of my identity and my writing journey, but I realized that being honest about my negative feelings for other people is something that I have yet to learn.
As you can see through my blog, I am not a fan of privacy. When it comes to my thoughts and feelings about my life, I can be as honest as hell, but when it comes to my thoughts and feelings about people, I often use euphemisms, evasion tactics, and I even resort to downright silence.
I am more bold when it comes to challenging other people’s beliefs, but I am mum when I need to tell them that I they hurt me or simply irritated me.
Being honest doesn’t mean that I want to become red-faced-banshee-screaming honest. I’d rather be cool and collected and yet able to face the painful issues that arise in my relationships.