I disregard opinions about me, from people whom I just met, unless they are positive. 😉 I am human.
Little I knew that a complete stranger would challenge this principle, like a duel with a bull terrier.
I woke up around 6:30 am as usual, even before my husband’s iPhone alarm rang. I had plenty of time to prepare, as my first meeting of the day would be at 11:30 am.
I calculated what I needed: meditate for 10 min, awake my bones with a few Vinyasa yoga poses, shower, have breakfast, read e-mails, dress business smart clothes, and hey, get a light touch make-up. Me and I agreed to get in the car at 10:45 am.
Ah, I did not forget to read the website of the business I was about to visit, as this was an introduction, initiated by a common friend, to the person I was about to meet.
I left home timely, found no traffic jams, and was in front of the building at 11:10 am. Realizing that I hadn’t received any instructions about parking, I parked 200m away as I spotted a free parking place.
Having time to spare, I checked WhatsApp messages until I got bored, and headed to the reception of the building.
There was no one to be seen, so I sat on a vibrant red couch, tall like a throne, which made me feel like hobbit Pippin from the Lord of the Rings.
Who saved me from being late, as I was unable to announce my arrival, wasn’t Frodo, nor Gandalf the Wizard, but a very kind man who appeared from nowhere to help me.
A kind woman showed up minutes later, and escorted me to the meeting room; off we went via the stairway. There, was the woman I would meet. Looking exactly as on her website photos. She dressed in a classic style, and styled the hair with a little toupee, resembling Sara Palin’s. We shook hands and my smile went back and forth, meeting no reciprocity.
She sat and looked at her laptop for a minute or so, and at that moment, I was sure that her sub-conscious communicated with my oblivious conscious, which didn’t hide my disbelief. She suddenly closed down the computer, regrouped her thoughts and looked at me.
Well, without further ado, and no mutual introductions, she went straight into business and asked me to talk about my career, with an eye on my resume, open on the table.
I have been long enough in business to know how to make a quick introduction, the so-called elevator pitch, but she wasn’t interested in that (she was well prepared, and had read my resume) but in zooming in on any phase of my career that could have taught me the most.
I chose two of those phases, got many more questions, and one hour later, had walked her past many facets of my experiences, good and bad.
She then turned to me and dropped a bombastic appraisal, or better said, a final verdict – after what now feels like a trial – not on what I have been doing throughout my career, but on whom she thought I am, sharply and bluntly naming two behavioral patterns she had identified.
Wow-ow… That caught me by surprise, like swimming against a strong current on a supposedly calm sea. There were two options to act in such situation:
Option one was to open all traffic green lights, let adrenaline flow at full speed straight to my head, turn off my frontal cortex, make a turn, and land violently at my reptile brain, where my preferred ‘fight’ reaction, would take over the command of the spaceship called ‘me’.
That option is what felt like dueling with a bull terrier or going against the current, drowning fast, for no good reason. After all, I didn’t know that person at all to take her opinion personally. Remember, I only listen to strangers opinions on me if they are good!
Option two, I admit, is always the most difficult. Yes, to listen and ask questions, trying to understand ‘why’ did I made that impression on someone in such a short period of time.
So, I went for option two, in a split second, against the impulsive option one, that I often regret choosing, and enjoyed the most interesting part of our conversation, paying attention to every single word she used to describe her perceptions about my life/career story. She has also become more relaxed after that.
I still think that she shot from the hip, as she didn’t know me yet – I am the living proof that one hour is not enough to achieve that; I am still working on that.
On the other hand, by asking why, I learn different angles from people from different cultures, backgrounds, and experiences. It paid off to open my mind to listen to a stranger’s perspective, on how I acted in the stories I shared, as there was no bias, previous perceptions nor history between us. Fascinating!
Did you pay attention to the featured photo above? I shot that ‘wisdom’ from a graffiti in a canal in Amsterdam.
“Chill out, you don’t matter.” That is what I did.
After the meeting, I sent a thank you note to that woman, and unexpectedly got the loveliest compliment one could wish for.
When I don’t give myself too much importance, I may end up finding my worth.
Day Fourteen Everyday Inspiration: write a post that takes place during a single day.