One of the things I’ve been working on in 2013 is putting myself out there more. I can be pretty shy, and that just isn’t something that goes hand in hand with running a successful business. It’s been going well, but putting myself out there means that I also have to deal with a LOT more rejection. Which actually, isn’t as sucky as you might think. Most people are pretty nice about saying no, and like Jonathan Adler says, it’s not like I have anything to lose, but I have plenty to gain.
However, some people aren’t quite as nice as most people are, and that can make the experience a little less pleasant. Ultimately, it’s not a big deal, but it got me thinking about how, thanks to the internet, we have the opportunity to make these fleeting, indelible impressions on people. There could be some horrible things going on in your life, and it could manifest itself as you being a little snippy to a stranger on twitter that day, and while there are really no negative consequences for doing something like that, there’s also someone in the world whose only impression of you is at your worst, with none of the back story to provide you with the benefit of the doubt. It’s kind of crazy. I could offend someone in an email simply because I made a poor word choice, because I was hungry and in a hurry (story of my life) and that could be the only impression that I leave on that person. The jerk who used the wrong word. I think it’s easier to be rude over the internet because you won’t ever actually have to confront the person on the other side of the screen. And I get it, it can be cathartic sometimes. Someone rubs you the wrong way, and you can put them in their place with a well placed zinger, and then forget all about it.
I feel like I can be guilty of this at times. Another thing I’ve been working on is being more assertive, and telling people exactly what I want to happen, instead of waiting for them to figure it out. While I still think that’s a valuable skill to have, I also think it’s easy (at least for me) to veer over into over-asserting myself, and kiiind of being a jerk when it’s not really called for.
So, I’m making a resolution to be kinder. When someone is a jerk, don’t escalate the situation. When someone does something nice, make sure that I show them my appreciation. When something good happens to someone else, remember that success is not finite, and genuinely be happy for that person (I definitely struggle with that.) Instead of hating the person in front of me in line for taking a long time, appreciate the opportunity to just stare into space and think for a minute.
I don’t think it will be easy, or that I’ll ever do this unfailingly, but hopefully just the act of being aware that my actions can have unintended negative consequences will be a good enough start.