How Others Perceive Us

I am having a rough time dealing with some feedback I received from a friend in an e-mail.  I know the friend loves me and she was just being honest and writing from her heart, and I do appreciate the honesty as I’ve always said that no matter how much the truth hurts it is much, much better than lies or deceptions. But honesty can still hurt a lot.

In her e-mail dealing with a project I hired her to complete, namely a sprinkler system for my yard, she expressed her frustrations with the project, which I certainly share as it is not going well, and then she said in response to events on Tuesday that she thought I ought to know that while she knows I have a generous and kind heart that I come across as mean and hard, and that I am so strong that the guys think I’m yelling at them.  She says this has always been a problem but that it is just the way I am.  Tuesday apparently one of the guys threatened to quit and my friend’s husband said I was so grouchy he wouldn’t stay around. 

This all came as a major shock to me as one, I said nothing to the guys filling the trench (after the electric conduit had been run and the day before another supervisor had promised me that it would be no problem for the guys who dug the trench to come back the next day to fill it, but that turned out not to be the case after all) and only made a simple request of my friend’s husband in I thought perfectly respectful language (the guys were dropping rocks on my plants and I was surprised and amazed by that but obviously wanted them to know that wasn’t a good plan).  But apparently, this is not how I am perceived and that really bothers me.

I have worked really hard over the last few years especially, not to be snappish or crabby and on my bad days (which I certainly do have battling depression, a thyroid auto-immune disorder, and now surgery recovery and a low grade fever), I try to stay away from others so that I don’t have to work as hard to overcome feeling like crap.  And when I do have to be around others I also work extra hard to try to compensate for feeling horrible.

Obviously I have been deceiving myself about how successful this plan is.  And I know my frustration with how badly this project is going and how little I know about it was all too apparent.  The schedule for installation had to be changed primarily because no one told me what the schedule was until a couple days before my surgery, and then they were surprised that I didn’t want major yard work going on the day after my surgery.  I certainly would have told them that much earlier if anyone had told me what was on the schedule, but unfortunately as much as I love my friend, her business is very disorganized and communication is poor, and I’m trying my level best to be supportive and understanding, but I suspect my frustrations have shown through at times and now I have guys who don’t want to work here and others who are working here only grudgingly, and I feel horrible that I upset anyone especially since by my very nature I try so hard never to hurt anyone.

I don’t know what to do.  I wish school were still in session so I could chat with my students.  They really get it!  When I’m not feeling well or having a tough day, I’m honest and let them know and we work through it and if I’m not at top form they are exceedingly forgiving.  Of course, the reciprocal is also true.  When they come in tired or hungry or upset I do my level best to be understanding and compassionate and help them out also.  Lesson plans change to accomodate life, and that’s how we work.  My students are in alternative education for a reason–the regular system let them down and didn’t work for them, and the same is true for me, so we have a common bond of respect and understanding.

But maybe I’m just fooling myself.  Maybe others also see me as mean and hard but just aren’t as honest as my friend, who really showed a tremendous amount of courage by telling me how she and her workers see me.  I’m still so upset since the very last thing I would ever want to be is mean and hard.  I’m trying to process it all, and I’m very glad I don’t have to see anyone until Monday.  Hopefully by then I will have figured out something.  But until then, I’m going to try to calm down, have a quiet weekend, and recover.  

I did have my second post-op doctor’s appointment today and my splints came out–unpleasant but over relatively quickly–and he didn’t seem at all concerned with my low grade fever (just under 100, when my normal temp is a degree below normal), but I know that means I need to rest more.  Turns out I still have to go back one more time, in 3 weeks, and I hope that is the last.  I got a ride today from Island Girl Transport and that worked well.  My internet service is exceedingly slow (the online tech said he’d never seen numbers as low as mine!) and I’m hoping someone will be out tomorrow as I can’t see Netflix streaming or do much on the computer, but maybe, in addition to setting sprinklers in my yard, a task I actually rather enjoy, I will read the weekend away.

That’s it.  If anyone has any thoughts about how to handle the perceptions of others or how others see you, I’d be most interested to hear them.  I obviously have a lot to learn, but then that’s life, I guess!

2 responses

  1. I know we've never met in person but I don't see you as mean and hard. Quite the opposite, actually. Would it be possible for you to either speak to your friend in person or talk to her over the phone? It is so much easier to miscommunicate when you only have words written on a page. I'm not sure if this would work for you but when I have something difficult or stressful to discuss I'll often write down what I want to say before I call or speak to the other person. It helps me get out everything I want to say without getting sidetracked by strong emotions or other issues. Anyway, *hugs*. I hope you're able to get it all sorted out soon. Not feeling well makes normal disagreements feel so much worse!

  2. Thank you so much, Lydia, and no, I'm not mean and hard. I can get snippy when I'm not feeling well, but overall, I don't think this is my problem. And I agree about the written word, but I don't do face-to-face or phone calls well. However, I might manage the phone call if I took your suggestion of writing down my thoughts first–that is a really brilliant idea and I will remember it! Meanwhile thanks to you and a couple others on Twitter, I've gotten things sorted, wrote another blog post about what I've learned and I'm at peace with it all now however it comes out. I put the ball back in my friend's court and await her decision. Meanwhile, the weather is gorgeous and I've had a lovely day of solitude! Hope you are having a good weekend! Cheers and thanks again so much!

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