This morning I was thinking about social niceties. The things that we say to others that are not quite true … just to be “nice”.
For many years, I haven’t done this and it does seem to piss some people off… at times.
Having grown up with a serious education in how to “act like a lady”, (which frankly alluded me completely other than I did learn how to navigate under the radar due to knowing the rules of engagement), there was a lot of talk about how to behave in social settings. One thing that seemed consistent was that being “nice” precluded honesty quite a bit.
The goal, it seemed, was to tell people what they would want to hear rather than what I saw truthfully. I learned to sincerely ask questions of others like; “how are you?”, “where do you live?”, “what are you interested in?” “can I help you with something?”… etc. and listen carefully to their answers. My responses would be further investigations or comments that weren’t always sincere.
The line of questioning produced an unbelievable ability to extract a lot of information about a person in just a few minutes. It wasn’t the questions that produced this result, it was the sincerity, availability and intent listening that had that effect.
Later, I realized that I could be quite an amazing person (at least in the eyes of others) if I honed this skill. The magic of the original lesson was about being “seen” as a lady; elegant, interested, self effacing, supportive, kind and caring. It didn’t occur to me that all that questioning was not really about having true interest in anyone other than my being “seen” in a positive light.
Thing was, it wasn’t truth. I would behave without much regard for what I truly felt or wanted in order to get something; recognition, a job, a place to live, attention… you name it. It worked wonders, but left me feeling unhappy about myself much of the time and also scrambling to behave the way that I’d dishonestly projected to others.
Being a “people pleaser” meant that I might agree to do something even if I didn’t want to. It meant being approving when I wasn’t. It meant saying what I thought the other person wanted to hear, then what was my truth. It meant not speaking up when I thought something was less then appropriate. It meant being understanding of something someone else was up to when I actually didn’t agree or appreciate it.
Kind of exhausting, actually…
Somewhere along the way and certainly as I distilled the information for the Amazon course it was evident to me that honesty would have to prevail for me to feel good about myself… and that feeling good about me was more important than others feeling good about me. Being manipulative was what it actually felt like, not kind or loving in any way.
Presently, people who are in my life can always depend on the truth from me, even if it’s hard to hear. I don’t ask prying questions or offer my time when I’m not called to do so or if it would be difficult to follow through with. There is a security that has enveloped me, the security of knowing that I don’t give up my truth to make someone feel good about me. It doesn’t provide me with anything but discomfort… and it’s pretty nice not having to do anything that I’m not totally into doing.
I’m jus’ sayin’ (as my daughter says… ;o)