So today one of the dearest (and magnificent!) people in the world to me sent me this picture, knowing I am struggling a little with a winter cold. A humorous reference to remind me that some days it is ok to slow down and practice self-care.
It got me thinking about how we show up, how we see ourselves, how others see us.
Another recent experience was meeting with someone I know well who was intrigued by my lack of proactive presence around a group and initiative. Their initial sense had been that this meant that I had negative energy and opinion around what was happening.
The key here is that rather than sit with such a judgment, they chose to make the time and effort to connect and then meet up to listen to my thoughts. It turns out they are also an absolute devotee of Stephen Covey, and his “fifth habit” speaks to :
“Listen with the intent to understand, not to reply”
We all greatly valued being listened to, and the person doing the listening heard that my approach to the situation at hand was simply to be neutral towards it (for various reasons they also understood), and that I was not negative in any way.
It was also important for them to understand my reasons for not being my normal self (let’s call it “magnificent”) and dialling that back to “quietly fabulous”.
Further, they also gained clarity in another way. The reason they had initially felt potential negativity was that their prior experience of me was of someone highly proactive in supporting others and initiatives, hence to see me not being that way felt different.
Of course (they also noted), there were others involved who were equally neutral as I at this time who they had not sensed were being negative. Why so ? Simply because relative to their normal behaviour, being neutral (as opposed to highly proactive and supportive) is their norm, so as long as keep showing up neutral, there is nothing different.
So, from all of this, it reinforced to me that we may not see others the way they see themselves, so where there is a disconnect from what we expect, there is always value in talking to that person and listening with the intent to understand their perspective.
If they are being quietly fabulous rather than magnificent, look to listen to them to understand why and what is happening for them.
People love to be listened to. I know I do.