Today I give a crack at what seems to stop me from asking from other people something they could maybe give to me that I would very much like. It is a big mystery to me – why do I have this attitude – that I do not want to bother people.
From writers who try to heal “people pleasing” attitude, they would say that we do not want to bother people because we do not want to be seen as someone who causes inconvenience in others. Do I care if someone called me a Karen? Not really, call away. At least I think that’s not the problem for me – not everyone will like me, not everyone does – even when I do my best and never bother them – so I want to rule out that possibility – to me this is not because I want to control my image in the eyes of others.
Another idea that makes more sense to me – a little closer to the Silver Rule – do not do to others what you wouldn’t want them to do to you. So, there we are getting a little closer to the dark side, maybe? Does it bother me when people ask for my help, when people want something from me for free? Depends! People don’t ask a lot from me, but often when they have, they indeed come asking something – but they are not being very direct in what they want. They kinda beat around the bush – it is unclear to me what they want – and it ends up wasting my time. And it stresses me out, too – if I understood what they wanted and it was in my power to do something about it – I most likely would.
*consider it something anyone could do, without needing any special skills – clean the room, set the table, take out the trash, line this notebook, punish the defectors etc.
Then there are requests which are not very convenient to me – which I also rather would not undertake, because these indeed are difficult to do (there is no enjoyment in it), I get nothing out of it – and in some cases it might not be any good to the receiver, either. I get a little upset when someone (of appropriate familiarity) asks for a massage – I don’t like giving it, I don’t know if it’s any good, and it tires me, it bores me, and often ends up me straining a muscle of my own (make of it what you will). And indeed, I will never ask someone to give me a massage – but I’ll of course accept it should they offer and it seems to them like it’s a whole bunch of fun to them, okay?
How can I find out whether someone enjoys giving a massage or not? Of course they might SAY they do… But if they enjoy it so much, why aren’t they going around offering massages (to those of appropriate familiarity, of course)? 🙂
Someone is Dreaming
*consider it something I do not completely understand.
So this one might hit closer home – I get bothered by questions that are imprecise, and I get bothered by requests that I think I will be no good at. When someone asks from me a logo or a design or whatever, I usually try to do my best to guide the person through a little process through which he or she can decide a little more precisely what their needs and wants are – and then maybe we can get to it – because one other thing I do not like doing is getting very vague instructions, then I do something in free form, then I find out this was not what the person wanted at all, and then I make another endless amount of iterations until we arrive at something that I hate from the depths of my heart – because in the end it looks like something anyone else could have designed, also, but they must have settled with me as I asked no price for it.
Exclusive Favors & Betraying my Exclusivity
*My first assumption is you’ve reached for my help because of something only I can do – but that will more than often just not be the case.
Of course my work process is very different when there is a price on it – then I put my own tastes aside (unless asked otherwise) and just become a software specialist. In most cases anyway.
So, in this sense – I do not want to bother specific people with vague requests which will have more to do with my wants and less with their personal stake in it. Were I to decide that I want the novel illustrated, I would turn to some artist with a personal style – because I want it done in that style. Likewise – my first, self-flattering assumption about people approaching me for help regarding all things music or design or whatever the fuck else I do these days – is that they approached me for my handwriting, not for my hours and manually customisable labor. I can do art production, but if sought out and shocked it will be expensive. In some cases I will also do a favor for a friend – but I assume when I do something for free, I will also retain my freedoms to do it; I do this either for free or expensive as fuck.
So, I assume this of other people – I find it a little disrespectful to turn to someone with a request that I can do with a google search or coach any recent newcomer in the arts field as a cheap production laborer.
PS When it comes to design and anything that has something to do with creativity – there are situations where you get too many or too few constraints – or you get the wrong kinds of constraints – and it’s another interesting thing to discuss, but out of the scope of this thought experiment!
More Dreaming of Nice to Haves
Well, having put those isolated cases aside, I think that’s about it. The rest of the things that I have not asked – well, maybe I have not thought through enough what exactly I want – or there simply has not been something that I want, don’t have, and someone is basically dangling in front of me. Many of such things are nice to haves – meaning we’d take it if it was offered to us, but we wouldn’t bother going for it if it meant any sacrifice on our end. And such things are quite telling of a personal compass – we truly ever want the things we are willing to put something aside for. That’s another long topic, but it’s not very interesting to me right now.
All I know is that I preserved some money in order to pay at least half the fee of a thing but turns out the scholarship was full. So, the next weird purchases I make for than money I’ll consider sponsored by NNT XD
Narrative of the Self
*We don’t ask because we don’t find ourselves worthy. Worthy of what, though? Basic human decency? Why do we even need to ASK?
Maybe I’m not as damaged as I thought when I started writing this – because apparently there do exist people who can’t open their mouth when their life is in danger. There are people who do not become a little aggressive when something that belongs to them is being snatched away from under their nose. There are people who deny themselves to ever show irritation, anger, unhappiness – but whether they do it to control their image or because their self-narrative is so lowly – is beyond me.
The narrative about the self, of course, is another thing I did wonder about today, for a little bit – and should we perceive ourselves as less worthy human beings as everyone around us – we would also not want to bother those high-quality people around us, right?
Human Decency and Thoughtfulness
Another aspect to not wanting to ASK for stuff that moves me the most, on the other hand – but it might also be a little pathological – I pick apart next. I say pathological because it can take extreme forms – there are many cases where people threaten to kill themselves if you break up with them – that’s the pathological form. If you tone it down, it becomes a simpler question, “please show me that you are a considerate fellow human being.”
There might be something in all of us which wish to experience a bit of thoughtfulness – some kind of human act in which you are given or gifted something that for you yourself would be impossible to require. True generosity.
Imagine you have a guest coming over – and he or she needs to stay for a whole month. In one case you do nothing special about it, but when they arrive, with him or her you start thinking that oh okay, where will you sleep? Can you put your clothes somewhere? And by the way I will spend some 1.5 hours in the bathroom ever morning etc. And in the other case you put yourself in the shoes of that experience, situation this person is coming into – and do what you can do make it more pleasant – the bed, the linen, the cupboards, maybe an approximate schedule and some house rules – you know, like they do in a hotel.
That is being considerate, thoughtful – and oh how it makes life prettier when there are people who have the capacity to do that.
Contrast it with ending up in situations where you have to ask the most embarrassing questions to get your basic needs met. Maybe you will feel even a little humiliated. Or maybe you start feeling a little needy – or go to the other extreme, you Karen-out. Thoughtfulness is sort of like erasing these kinds of awkward situations – and there’s so grace in it!
So, when I interact with some people who do not treat me and others with even the tiniest consideration – I don’t think the fault lies in me being afraid of asking for things – the situation just is fucking awkward and our brains lack the protocols to handle them in grace. Whether your host was just lazy or is inexperienced (or maybe just doesn’t have the means to accommodate you with all the needs) – well, it could be a million different things, but it’s probably not his or her intention to make you feel uncomfortable. Although – you never know – one could intentionally do this because they do not ever want you to come back 🙂
Maybe this is one fault with our narratives – what would be the kind of situation where I failed to thoughtfully accommodate my guest? I’d either not have the means to make him or her comfortable, or I really didn’t care that they come. Two very different situations… One is understandable, the other is something you’d never want to experience – you bother someone and they intentionally make you uncomfortable for it.
Need to add one thing: the accommodation thing only applies when you have actually invited the person over or have said yes come, I can take you in… But when a guest gets imposed on you against your will. E.g. someone insists on coming over and you don’t really want it or don’t have the means – in such a case it is kinda on the guest to make sure he finds some place in town etc – that will be human decency on his end;
Pulling me away from my Heaven
One last situation in which any distraction makes me hulk out – someone distracting me when I’m away, in my zone, away, travelling in space. The worse is when someone calls and they have nothing of interest to me to offer or inform me of. I get bothered when someone breathes in a certain way as people do before they are about to comment something they have seen or heard in the internet or the meeting they just came from – even when they see that I am focused on something and they stop in their tracks – my focus is already destroyed. My focus is already destroyed when someone informs me that they will be gone for 20 minutes. My focus will be destroyed when someone mentions my name in a conversation I can buzz in the background but am not involved in. And my focus is certainly destroyed when someone very carefully sneaks behind me and whispers, “I hope I’m not bothering you…”
I mean why whisper? To not bother others around us? 😀
So, I do not like going to people in the office either – especially approaching them from behind, and there is absolutely no use in being sorry for bothering – I can never know what they are working on, thinking about, calculating… So I write into their chat.
Requests in the Office
And now, with the exception of my direct manager I never write just “hey” or a wall of text (my manager gets my wall of texts, sometimes (they are not THAT long – and they are packed with good info :D)). I get bothered when someone starts a chat with me saying “hey” and then waits for me to respond to keep me trapped in their stupid instant messenger mode. It is all the more irritating because often when you take that bait, you respond hey sup, you will wait another 3 hours until they will come back to say their little small talk things and finally get to the point. You know what it does? It keeps me suspended. Away from my actual work.
Which is why I don’t do that.
Out with it, and be concise…
But you know, some people like to do their chat thing and be suspended from work – or maybe their work is of that nature that they can allow not getting zoned into it, I dunno. Maybe they enjoy saying hey and how are you and I am fine and where are you going for vacation… I mean I GET IT – people talk that stuff to have a conversation – I WISH I had more conversations – but can it really be there don’t exist conversations that two bots couldn’t have with each other?
Anyway, I’m about done with this exploration for today. I suspect there is still something to discover about it – you know, if you have any better idea, drop your comment or spank me on twitter.