Chill Out, You Don’t Matter

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.

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Sharing sights & insights captured with diverse angles. Ex-corporate slave, now my own boss. Cycling, hiking, cooking, reading, yoga, writing and photography, are no longer only hobbies listed on my resume. It's what I do, when I want.

37 thoughts on “Chill Out, You Don’t Matter

  1. Okay, I have a new favourite post by you… It read like a suspenseful story to me. I couldn’t believe your experience – well, I do believe you, but it is so unpleasant and illogical. Yes, I have read to the end and saw that it all ended up well, sort of, but the impression of the impolite and arrogant behaviour you were exposed to lasts. I believe it’s generally a bad idea to tell people what you think they are like, even after years of acquaintance, unless you’re explicitly asked for your opinion. The professional world you move in sounds quite scary. I wouldn’t want your job.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mara, you can have as many favorite posts as you like. 😀
      There is one aspect of her behavior that is cultural. You may have heard that the Dutch are infamous for being direct, and invariably, foreigners find that directness plain rude. However, there are many levels of directness, and the individual concerned is perhaps at the highest level.
      No matter the culture, I agree with you though, that a personal opinion should be requested. That wasn’t a job interview and needed not to be evaluated.
      My professional world used to be very political and competitive but since I left corporate, that environment is the one of my clients, and I can choose which ones I want to work with, as there are exceptions.

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      1. Cultural differences never cease to confuse me. We’re a pretty straightforward culture too but what you describe is just rude, probably anywhere. I’m glad though that you have more freedom to choose your clients now you’re on your own. Good for you.

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  2. I really enjoyed this Lucile, and was caught up in your story. You told us bits and pieces but without actually sharing what she said about you, which was a masterful stroke in my opinion. You did well to go with option 2 under the circumstances 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thank you Debbie. Good to hear that. As this is a true story, I was cautious to not sound defensive, and trying to protect the identity of those involved.
      It’s very easy to find my blog as I use my real name.
      Amen to option 2!! It saves me from conflict.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. This woman gives herself too much power. But you handled her. It is an awful experience to go through, especially as you say, as she doesn’t know you at all. I find this so intriguing. What kind of day was she having before you arrived? What gives her such self-importance? How do her colleagues treat her? I’m so glad you applied the quote in the photo to her! Because you, me dear, matter! X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a fact of corporate life. People feel powerful and make assumptions very quickly. I am kind of immunized and can smell it from distance, after having seen these reactions so often. So it affects me, but very little. I prefer to laugh about and truly to not feel too important myself. And yes, the quote was for me and not her. It helps to turn the page.
      Thanks for the support though, you’re lovely.
      And I have no idea on what would drive her to behave like that as she didn’t say anything about herself.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You know Julie, I have used my fight reflex so much, and not often to my advantage, as sometimes I fought real bullies, and lost as I’m not like them.
      Over time, and after becoming more mature, I have consciously decided to use flight instead.
      So, you’re better off.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You handled that really well Lucile, though I’m still reeling a bit that you should have found yourself in that situation. I’m intrigued by the woman! I understand you can’t say more but she sounds complex and fascinating — and not at all nice!

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  5. One hour is definitely not enough time to be passing judgements on people like that, but you did handle that well. Bravo, Lucile! We can certainly learn from every experience. And I love shot you’ve included in this post. Harsh, but thought provoking. I definitely think I find more of my worth when I diminish my own importance, as hard as it is to do sometimes.

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    1. Hi Britta, how’re you doing? I’m very happy to see you around. Thank you 😊
      Indeed, one shouldn’t do that but as you said, it helped me not focus on my self importance. The shot served me well although I know that I matter.

      Like

      1. I’m well Lucile! I’ve been absent from the blogosphere for a while, but have recently felt more like writing and participating more. You’re most welcome. I hope you are well, too.

        It’s certanly humbling to consider criticism, even if such criticism seems a bit unwarranted.

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          1. Agreed! WordPress is much more personal than the quick and easy nature of other platforms. It takes a lot more time to read through blogs, write up posts, and comment on WordPress–and I think that all of that allows for deeper, more meaninful relationships to form. My closest online friendships continue to be the ones that I’ve met here. It’s so nice to see you active on your blog again, and it feels good for me to be a bit more active on WordPress, too.

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