I attended a workshop on the weekend. We did an exercise where we circulated the room for two minutes without making intentional eye contact with the other participants, keeping our heads down, with no speaking or touching others.In the next part of the exercise we circled the room for two minutes and made what I will call furtive eye contact with the other participants, still with no speaking or touching anyoneand no smiles. Then we circled the room yet again, and tried to make a connection through eye contact and smiles. AND lastly, we did the same again but this time we could offer greetings, shake hands, hug, wink, although we weren't to actually stop and talk .
Now the whole thing was quite simple, and I predicted the results, at least to myself, in advance. What I wasn't prepared for was the intensity of emotion the exercise created in me!
The first situation felt ordinary to me. I glanced, I evaluated, I gathered evidence, I made suppositions. In the second instance where we looked furtively at people I felt very lonely, I felt like I was being judged and there was a real tension there for me.
When we evaluated these situations one of the participants likened it to being put in the corner as a child and said she found it more difficult than the first situation because there was no expectation of interaction but no peace from it’s absence either.
In the third situation, where we were allowed to make eye contact and smile, I was surprised to find how cheated I felt when I offered myself to others and they chose not to engage. Because this was a varied group from a wide range of situations there were those who did not feel safe or comfortable engaging with me. I felt like I put myself out there and they denied me something I wanted-obviously this was in a very subtle way and I might not have actually noticed it had it not been in the context of self examination and discussion. Interesting to me was the participant when I offered my observation who asked me, did I feel "cheated" because "I wanted something from them?" or did I feel "cheated" because "they didn't want to take what I was giving?" I didn't have a clear take on that. I am not sure I do now.
The last part of the exercise was the real revelation for me. I felt invigorated and very positive but ALSO I had had enough very quickly. I became satiated and wanted to move on.
Now perhaps that is because we had just spent all this time demonstrating what I had felt was a predictable result, or maybe it was a heads up to me. I have been told I can be brusque and other people are sometimes intimidated by me. I worked for a Mega American corporation for a time and we were subjected to the best modern HR has to offer, three times a year. Repeatedly during this performance evaluation process I was told my colleagues didn't know what to make of me - my answer was "that is their problem"-but, they knew they could rely on me. SIGH!
I am still evaluating what to take away from all of this,other than the obvious you feel better when you make a connection message. I think it may also indicate I need to be a bit more patient with others.
Do you think there is a t-shirt that says "Doesn't play well with others" out there?