As I came to an end of my rant about certain people talking down to me and how much I hate it, I was reminded that sometimes I am not careful with how I react and respond to people either. I know for a fact I have said and done things in the past (not always that distant of a past) in a condescending manner. I wonder why we do that. More importantly, I wonder how we avoid it.
I want to be a good leader and a good teammate. I like working as part of a group with common goals. It is exciting and so rewarding. Seriously, what better way is there to learn things you did not even know you did not know?
I suppose I have some explaining to do. Why would I be a jerk when I hate it so much when people treat me in the same manner? To be completely honest, I think it is a defense mechanism. (Or, I could be an asshat- either way, it is not who I want to be.) Perhaps, it is a normal response to put others down in an attempt to raise yourself up. Well, it seems it would make the distance to the top a little shorter. Seriously, it is just math people.
I wonder why we started losing our responsibility to use manners and to act graciously towards other people. Where did this ‘get ahead at all cost’ mentality start? How do we find the gentle respect we should have for others?
It is almost as if we have regressed in our social obligations to a completely self-driven society. Where did our obligation to help others go? How do we find a sense of community?
Perhaps I am naive. I still find myself daydreaming of a place where the pace is a little slower, and people are quick to strike up a conversation. Maybe a nice english chap who will invite me in for a spot of tea. Doubt I will find him here in Texas. A girl can dream.
For now, I am stuck with people who feel small, and who like to lash out at others to even the playing field. I am choosing to go a different route. What if we all started building each other up? Even professionally, coaching up would be preferable to tearing down. Let’s move away from the guerrilla warfare and collaborate. Leave the ego at the door and open our minds to the possibilities. It sounds all hippy-dippy cheesy, but I think it could lead to good things.
Just be nice. I will continue to work on my tone and attitude. What if we all made that commitment?
We have all had the good fortune to meet the smartest man in the room. You know the one. The guy who feels the need to educate you and correct you on every thing you do. He may have good intentions, and perhaps he does not mean it condescendingly at all (me? yes, I have been guilty of this from time to time.) I am talking about the other guy. The one who has to be the brightest light in any room, however instead of shining brighter, he just walks around trying to dampen everyone else’s light. That guy is an asshat, officially.
Doesn’t that sound like a dream come true? I love working with a team of people who are committed to a common purpose. Each person has their own perspective and part of the problem to solve. Respect and time is given to each member of the team. Everyone has a voice. More importantly, everyone shares common goals.
I want to find a place where this is actually the culture. I find myself trying to engage nurses in conversation about their patients. I tell them what I have in mind, and start asking them for feedback. They have seen the situation from a completely different angle than I have. I trust and respect their insight. However, I am often greeted with a blank stare.
When I do not understand why something is being done, there is a high probability that I do not know part of the problem. Perhaps I just do not have a firm grasp on the situation at hand. Nothing is better than when I am close enough to the physician I am working with that I can ask them about it without them assuming I am challenging them. I have learned to choose my words carefully and to explain my intentions, but these conversations have taught me so much over the years.
I have had so many physicians, nurses, NPs, and pharmacists who have been willing to explain and teach me. There are so many disciplines working together, each one bringing their own level of expertise to the table, it would be ridiculous to not utilize their experience. I love learning about things from a different perspective. It gives me a more dynamic understanding of the situation.
Now, what about the asshat leader who is running amok and telling people inaccurate things? It is perfectly acceptable to be wrong from time to time, however I continue to be astounded by the number of people in the world who cannot admit to this. These same people love to walk around with their chests puffed out and head tilted at a slightly posterior angle, while looking down at you incredulously. They appear to be amused by your attempts to use your intelligence to learn about something new. They have to make inconsequential changes to your plans, just so they can say they did something.
Then, imagine their voice as they come over to talk to you. It all seems so earnest. They pull you aside and the whole conversation becomes very serious. They are imparting secret, magical information that cannot be gleaned from Uptodate. You listen expectantly, holding your breath in anticipation, pride welling up in your soul. Oh, he must have seen I was struggling! Perhaps I should let out a little giggle. I am so lucky to have this big, strong, virile man of medicine to keep me on the straight path. I could never have figured this out if he had not come to save me from my own ignorance.
Then you hear it. He is telling you how he is concerned for your well-being, and how he is so glad he can offer you his expertise. After all, he is a very busy and important man. Oh, swoon. I can’t believe he would take the time to tell me to use two 20 mg vials instead of one 40 mg vial. (Or something else equally ridiculous.) He will explain to you that the current evidence-based guidelines cannot be accurate, he has never seen that side effect the black box is warning against. No, it is not a well-known use of that extremely expensive drug. It is off label. Apparently, all the best cures are secrets. Only the best doctors get access to that information. The elite medical schools train them to pick up signals via a beacon in their neck. That is why they hold their head like that. I swear. I read it in a medical journal. You know, the ones nurses can’t read.
Ugh. All I want is to be able to have a conversation with the people I am working with. I love it when they have time to explain a concept I had never actually seen in real life, or just one I did not know a lot about. Seriously. I love to learn. I love to see the things I am learning about used in real life. For the love all that is good and intelligent in the world, do not expect me to follow archaic guidelines that are not in sync with current evidence based practice. There is a reason we have standards of care. I have found a lot of comfort in having mentors who taught me how to find these guidelines, and how to use them.
Of course, there are situations that may not fit the usual mold. There is most certainly an art to the practice and science of medical care. Sometimes there is more than one way to skin the proverbial cat. Please don’t try to teach me the wrong way to do things. Don’t use the phrase “that is how we have always done it.” I will want to know why. I always want to understand the rationale behind things. I want to know why we are choosing that particular option. Do not try to convince me to use antiquated methods when I have current peer-reviewed evidence at my fingertips. (Yes, I know the research and evidence is always changing… that is a topic I am woefully not able to discuss with anything resembling intelligence.)
Here is the point. Don’t talk down to me. Don’t pat my head like I am a wayward child. I am a professional, and despite my struggles to always portray myself in a dignified light, I am reasonably intelligent. I actually think there are some topics I can discuss with a pretty good level of mastery. I have been taught by the best! I do things to the best of my ability. If I come across a situation I am unsure about, I assure you I will seek your guidance. If you notice something I did not, or you just want to tell me about it, that is great! I love learning from experts. I may even take notes. I can promise you, I will be looking it up as soon as you walk away so I can remember it for next time.
One more thing I have noticed. Don’t listen to every man in the room and make it a point to not listen to me. Am I the only one that notices a difference when some men talk to women as opposed to how they speak to other men? Why am I hushed when men are invited to offer insight? Why am I a bitch when I am just being matter of fact? I hate to break it to you guys, your penis does not make you smarter. I have to be honest though, men are not the only asshats. I have had these strange interactions with women as well. I am not kidding when I say it bothers me when people are so transparently attempting to exert their dominance over everyone in the room.
So, come on. Give a girl a break. Feel free to educate, correct, and guide me. Just don’t be a jerk about it. I promise to continue working on the same thing. Perhaps there is a way to foster collaboration and open discussion without all the egos and BS. Maybe I should google that.
My mother used to say I would argue with a fence post if it would stand there long enough. I am fairly certain she was exaggerating. I was mildly well, in my mind it was mildly, quick to offer an opposing viewpoint when I was younger. To be honest, I just love a good debate. I can generally see more than one side to just about any issue. This makes it difficult for me to choose a side.
I was eight years old when I was given Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. It is basically a manual for interpersonal relationship building. My issue with this book is that it seems to be written for salespeople. Sure, you want to gain people’s trust and to get them to buy into your ideas in the workplace. The book title sounds somewhat nefarious. Am I supposed to be fake and disingenuous in order to get my way?
Once you delve into the book, you realize most of it is a handbook on how to be charming. I do not know many women who have this skill. At least there are not many women who charm me. However, I am a sucker for a charming man. There is some trick some men do. I have watched them. I am drawn in by them, even when I am trying to avoid it.
Do you know the shoulder touch? You are standing there talking to someone. You can be discussing the rain or any trivial subject, and they lean in a little closer. If they are taller than you, which most men are taller than me, they lean down and in a little, and they touch your shoulder or arm. Eye contact is paramount. They speak softly. Then you find yourself feeling a little giggly inside. It does not matter what position they hold on a subject, I find myself agreeing with them! I would fight to the death to defend their point of view. Well, maybe not to the death… but I would vehemently back them up. It is the craziest thing.
What is that magic power???? How do they do that? What part of my inner self are they speaking to? More importantly, where do they learn that?
Sometimes I find myself wondering if they are being all charming and persuasive on purpose, or if they are just that slick all the time. Does my weakness for the arm touch mean I am a sucker? Probably.
So, what’s the point?
There is a certain amount of charm and persuasion one must possess to be a good leader. Assholes are rarely inspiring. There seems to be a level of charisma required to actually inspire change in people. So, I find myself studying this book. It is not about specific leadership skills in a specific field, it is about how to win people’s confidence.
I have to know more about this subject. I think the best place to start is asking one of the charmers I know. I can imagine he will give me a look and refuse to answer the question, but I am going to ask anyway. Here are my questions:
Do you realize you are being charming?
Are you doing it on purpose?
Where did you learn that?
Does it require practice?
Are you careful about when you choose to employ this skill?
What happens when it backfires?
What does that look like?
I assume there are people who are immune to your charms, do you try to change tactics, or do you try to avoid those folks?
Is there anything I can do for you?
See? It always ends up there. What can I do for you? Sneaky, charming men! I am mostly kidding, except I am not. I am seriously a sucker for the arm touch.
I was watching Magic Mike on Sunday, and while it is certainly not a study on human behavior, I found myself marveling at the way “Male Entertainers” use charm to make their act more inviting. It is actually about giving people what they want. Of course it helps when they are seriously hot. So, here are some of my favorite pics from google…
Joe Manganiello is a good example of a charming hot guy. There are a lot more pictures of him I like, but this is a nice selection. He is beautiful. Oh! I got distracted. I was trying to make a point. Oh, well. It seems to be gone now.
It is not only extremely good-looking people who attract me. My newest crush is Anthony Bourdain. I am not sure what it is… I mean, he is older than my mother by nearly a decade. He is certainly not unattractive, but he is no Joe. I think it could be how passionate he seems. When people are passionate about their career, I find myself drawn in. I become interested in what they are interested in. I mean, if they love it so much it must be cool.
So, forget reading books on leadership. Be nice. Find ways to engage other people. Lean in and do the arm touch. Find your passion, and share it with others. It does not seem to be that difficult. Or, if all else fails be incredibly hot and avoid acting like an ass.
PS… I can’t wait to ask some of the charming men I know these questions. I wonder if they will play along and answer them.