May 30, 2007

For Three Strange Days I Had Obligations

During a recent three-day period, I "fired" three women in my life. One was an ex from last year and the year before. The second was an ex from this year. The third was my housekeeper. Playing the heavy for once felt very refreshing.

In the first case, I had to tell my ex that, even though we are still close and I care about her, I am not interested in getting back together with her at this time. It was the most Shermanesque statement ("If drafted, I will not run; if nominated, I will not accept; if elected, I will not serve") that I have made to her, and, as expected, it did not go over very well.

In the second case, I told my (more recent) ex more about why I had decided to end the relationship. In contrast to the George Costanza easy let-down method ("it's not you, it's me"), this time it really was her from my perspective, and I let her know exactly what it was that caused me such a problem. This did not go over well either.

In the third case, I had to call my housekeeper to let her know that, as a result of her attendance record of only 50%, without due notice before canceled visits, our professional relationship had come to an end. Due to her lack of English language skills, the conversation took place almost entirely in Spanish, and I speak almost no Spanish. Somehow I rose to the occasion. I felt like one of those people who suffers a serious head injury and wakes up speaking fluent Japanese. Once again, my decision did not go over well on the receiving end.

Usually I am not such a direct bearer of bad news. I tend to sugarcoat problems I have with people, probably for the purpose of having them still like me. But having everyone like you is most likely a sign of weakness, and probably results in a lack of respect from many people. It also can lead to misunderstandings, and could do a disservice to the very people whose feelings you are trying not to hurt. In contrast, my new experiment in blunt honesty worked pretty well, at least as a matter of clear communication and giving people information that may be helpful to them. I have said that I would rather have someone upset with me for telling them the truth than for keeping quiet and not telling them something that was on my mind. For three days at least, I put that motto into practice.

During this three-day period, I felt a bit like George during another "Seinfeld" episode, "The Opposite." In that episode, George decides to change his unsuccessful life by taking the opposite course whenever his instincts tell him to do something. As a result, George turns his life around by finding a great job and a new girlfriend, and moving out of his parents house.

Not that I would use a short, fat, bald, unemployed, unattached, emotionally retarded fictitious television character as my role model.


At 8:26 AM, Blogger Barbara said...

It sounds like spring cleaning to me. I don't know if I could handle 3 such conversations in the space of 3 days (in any language). It may be hard on the recipient, but it also takes its toll on the bearer of the truth. Is your current emotion one of relief or emptiness?

Maybe you should cook some strip steaks with the neighbor with the new grill? :)

At 6:33 PM, Blogger media concepts said...

It was more a feeling of obligation, as the title indicates. But I think it was good for all parties to know what was what.

At 2:49 PM, Blogger Ghetufool said...

very nice. blunt honesty is not good. it ends up hurting both the parties. but you made your job done. that's what it is.


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