So I have a situation with a friend. I’d characterize this as a close friend, even a member of my chosen Family.
This person is fond of interrupting or talking over me, especially to anticipate my next point, observe that “it’ll be interesting what emerges next for you (me)”, as if he knows, and then act dismissive or disinterested when I actually have more/different things to say on the topic. He is fond of rolling eyes, using a very polite tone to say “that doesn’t interest me”, and using dismissive phrases such as “yawn” to let us know how wizened and erudite he is.
This in itself merely chafed at my personality. I wondered why I was bothered by his interrupting, and why it irked me for over a year, before I could identify exactly what behavior bothered me and why.
It’s this smug attitude that he already knows not only what I’m about to say, but what will come AFTER I’m done processing my current stage. And if I would just hold my tongue long enough for him to please tell me all about it. And if I actually had something to say that he missed or overlooked? He’s onto the next topic. Now, I may be a prickly feminist bitch, so I had to check my politics to make sure I wasn’t overreacting or being oversensitive. There were a few circumstances that came up over the weekend, with this friend and his partner, which brought this dynamic into focus for me. I confided in a (mutual) friend about the issue I was having, found no real solutions but a lot of empathy and validation, and moved on. And in a matter of days? How about 2 other people have either come forward to complain about the same issue, or have recognized this person engages in this behavior habitually, and they’ve taken to ignoring it/the behavior/the issue. Can you say silencing, invalidating, and gaslighting? I wonder how many others have quietly floated away due to this person’s condescension, paternalism, and smug attitude?
This last weekend was this friend’s turn to manage our Big Kid Magick ceremony for this quarter. For at least 2 months beforehand, he’d been offered assistance or guidance by at least 3 members of the group. As the date of the ceremony grew closer, the offers turned to insistent pleas for any kind of information about the intent. You see, this Big Kid Magick group was supposed to be for fully sovereign Magicians. One of the precepts of inclusion in the circle is that We Do Not Let Life Interfere With The Workings. We understand, of course, that life intervenes, but that this level, we magicians would anticipate these hiccups and deal with them responsibly. Second precept? Once you’re in, you’ve committed to a year’s worth of Really Showing Up. So finally, the night OF the ritual, hours beforehand, the ceremony was nearly cancelled. Why? A “hunch” on the part of the ritual leader that it may not happen due to “little bits of chaos”, and logistical issues. And if we were going to have the ritual at all, it might only be 4 of the 12 included. Oh, and the best part? The intent for the ritual, finally announced hours before the ceremony itself? Leadership. Leadership of self and of others.
Here’s three articles on Leadership to refresh what popular thoughts are around what constitutes this ideal. http://www.inc.com/peter-economy/7-traits-highly-effective-leaders.html, http://www.inc.com/peter-economy/the-9-traits-that-define-great-leadership.html, and http://www.ansc.purdue.edu/courses/communicationskills/leaderqualities.pdf. I especially appreciate that the second one puts Awareness at the top of the list. I think having a strong understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of the group you plan to lead, is fundamental to good leadership. It’s evident that having a high level of integrity, utilizing effective empathy and communication, and a robust means of staying accountable, position us well to assume responsibilities for others.
We call this person’s behavior excellence? We call this impeccability? We call this striving to be better? We call this self-mastery? Just where does integrity/hypocrisy fall in this person’s definition of Leadership?
I probably wouldn’t be feeling so judgy or snarky if this EXACT SAME PERSON wasn’t fond of telling me how he’s evaluating my leadership skills. How he acts intrigued and excited about these “first steps” to act like a leader/present on a topic/lead a class/assume and exert responsibility, myself. This has been going on for easily 2 years. It has hurt my feelings, made me feel insecure, and ensured that I tried ever-harder to please the folks that are observing and evaluating. You see, long before this couple met me, I was on a path of self-mastery. I’m first-born in my family, an overachiever/perfectionist, Alpha and accomplished in business and society, charismatic and educated. Life kept putting me in leader/supervisory positions. I resented the call and resisted for a long time. But by the time I had reached this group, I had 7 years of sobriety and recovery from my own dysfunction. I would frequently be recognized as being a very self-aware, accountable, and healthy individual, by professionals and laypersons alike. I’m frankly outraged, now that I realize 1.) I’m not the only one he talks to this way, and 2.) it’s a chronic issue, 3.) based in his own poor self-esteem, which has been 4.) cleverly disguised under the smug guru act.
So, new rule. My self-worth, my impact, my “leadership skills” are not for my friends (or family!) to define. If a person isn’t writing my paycheck, where do they get the right to judge my growth or development? I’ve been a legal adult for over half my life. I freely share; I rock a very high level of transparency with my process, my thoughts, my instincts. I am accountable to my foibles and my triumphs. I know the exact nature of my strengths and liabilities, and I’m consistently seeking and pursuing improvement on those. It’s been said that “all knowledge is self-knowledge”, and I am pretty intimate with all these particles and processes. Also? Asking for validation is a healthy response to the insecurity experienced above. I’ve been asking for the emotional currency that would “fix” this dynamic between us. I guess I’m learning that the request has been denied.
One more new rule. If it takes you three years to recognize that I really am a leader, already? Maybe we weren’t so close, after all. Maybe you were too busy talking about yourself to notice. I probably want people in my intimate circle that recognize my substance.