Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Impacts of being shy.

Why I like being alone.
Wikipedia defines "shyness" as - In humansshyness (also called diffidence) is a social psychology term used to describe the feeling of apprehensionlack of comfort, or awkwardness experienced when a person is in proximity to, approaching, or being approached by other people, especially in new situations or with unfamiliar people. 
By this definition I am shy. I was showing my replacement around the Newspaper chaplaincy the other day and introduced her to the manager we report to. He was talking about chaplains and chaplaincy and said how we were all different. He said something like, "Some people can bowl up to anybody and start a friendly conversation with no trouble at all." - and he pointed at me? He's a nice guy but he is wrong! He does not see the inside stress I have in "bowling up to anybody"!  The woman replacing me will go well. She is confident yet sensitive enough to do a good job, and I think she will be good for the women in the workplace. I have trouble with women! Especially with younger women.
What do you say after "Hello"? How do you not come across as a DOM?
Workplace support chaplains are to call past people's work station and make themselves available for conversation. We are to build relationship with people so that they feel comfortable coming to us if they need to. I "bowl up" to a young woman in a workplace and introduce myself and say "Hi" or "Hello" and maybe ask about their work. They respond with a one word answer. Now often with men you can just hang around and watch what they are doing and conversation will start up again. Older women often reply with more content. But I feel like a jerk "loitering with intent" around young women! I feel awkward, thinking that they will feel like I am a D.O.M. (Dirty Old Man) I somehow feel like if I push the conversation they will feel "icky", like I am forcing myself on them. So I am "diffident" "shy" "apprehensive" etc. I tend to move on and not talk.
But not just women....
I find myself getting apprehensive with almost every new meeting I have. Stupid but real. This is particularly true if I suspect that the person does not want to make contact with a minister, chaplain or me. I always tend to expect rejection when meeting people. Even when I am received warmly I think, "They would not like me if they really knew me."  It is a strange way to be in my job. It impacts on everything I do. I do not delegate when I should. I would rather do it myself than face possible rejection asking somebody else. I do, however, steel myself and go ahead and meet people, and generally am accepted. It will be interesting when I retire, I may happily become a hermit.
Public speaking is an effort...
I think I do a good job as a preacher, but my inner shyness makes Sunday mornings a big deal. Again people would look at me and think I am confident and that it is easy for me. But I have sleepless Saturday nights and often have to steel myself to do it. I find myself questioning my current environment and just last Sunday during the whole first hymn I hardly sang, because I really did not want to be there. Roll on retirement!
I also tend to avoid conflict...
On Friday nights at our drop-in we have a man who is immature in the way he plays pool. He gets mad when somebody consistently beats him and is often ill tempered. I have intervened several times over the years. He has at times threatened me with a pool cue but I always manage to cool things down or direct him out the door. Sometimes when I know the person he is mad at is strong as a person, I will let things go awhile and they often sort it out or come to a compromise. But it is annoying. Last Friday he got stroppy with a guy, usually its the same guy who can beat him consistently. My wife was nearby and stepped in and told him to cool down. He blithered on at her. I was looking from a distance ready to step in, but I thought as I watched, "You have taken on the wrong person tonight!"  She has raised five children and intervened in lots of disagreements and she will not back down. She eye balled him up close and said quietly but firmly,"We are getting sick of the childish way you play pool. You make it unhappy for a lot of people. If you cannot play in an adult way then you better leave." She made a deal with him to play one more game then he had to allow the other guy to play. He played his game and left. My wife does not look for conflict, but she is willing to confront if she has to. While I sometimes do it, I often avoid that "constructive" confronting. I can't be bothered with the agro. I was at a meeting the other night and during the night a guy made a couple of statements I disagreed with. It was on the tip of my tongue to express a contrary view, but I stopped. I thought about it and knew he would not take disagreement well, so I backed off. Was I wise? Was I lazy as a leader? I suspect his reactions to disagreement is almost a bullying tactic... It is how he has got his own way where ever he is. Maybe I should have confronted it? Was it my shyness preventing me from taking a true leadership role? I tend to say, "I'll just do my thing and ignore them."

Relationships are funny things. I guess my shyness leads me to enjoy times of being alone.

1 comment:

Bricky said...

Dave, I never would have guessed from your writings, and from the type of work which you have spent your life doing, that you would think of yourself as being shy.
The older I get, the greater my realisation that when communicating with people, what goes on within their minds is so often vastly different to what we perceive from the outside.