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Me, Myself & I

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I am a localization manager/translator and intercultural consultant living in Berlin (Germany), passionate about languages, cultures, diversity management, dancing and good movies.  

Interested in intercultural communication and/or diversity management? In the mood for a Tandem-partner or looking for someone willing to learn Spanish with you? Desperately seeking an enthusiastic dance partner for salsa, bachata, swing or charleston?
Hoping to find a blogging buddy willing to inspire and motivate you?

Just drop me a line for a coffee. I am always thankful for the chance to get to know interesting and fascinating people like you.
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A Lot Like Purple is my personal blog.
I'm the only person responsible for its content and the views and opinions expressed here are solely mines.
What I write doesn't represent my clients or any other group, organization or agency.

If you notice something inaccurate, not valid any longer or inappropriate, I am looking forward to your feedback.
The honesty and politeness of comments are guaranteed.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

What a slice of cake has to do with bad questions and purple boxes and how you can keep your emotional freedom, no matter what

I am sure that you are like me and that you like to think that people are good, that they have good intentions, that most of the time misunderstandings get in the way and if someone offended you, they didn't mean it badly.
Like Jeph Jacques says:

You ought to expect better of people. It encourages you to be a better person yourself. 

And yet there are those people.

The ones that keep asking me year after year when I will spend my holidays in Italy even if I keep saying year after year that I am up for discovering new places I have never been to before...
The ones that keep asking me year after year if I am on Facebook, even if I keep saying year after year that I am not and I am not planning to start using it and on top of it I just deleted my Twitter account...
The ones that keep asking me year after year if I would like to have a cookie or a piece of cake, even if I told them already the previous five to ten times that I suffer from celiac disease. Like, yes, for the rest of my life. No big changes here from the last time you offered me something toxic for me.
The ones that keep asking me year after year why I am vegan and whether or not I miss eating meat, even if I replied to this question so many times before, in the last nine years.

[Simply adorable and yummy Purple picnic treats for a birthday party
And yet... a lot of gluten in it, unfortunately
Image source: Juniper Fancy]

And so on.
The list of topics could be a very long one, and yet, in the end, it is not important to list every kind of inattentive, inappropriate, tactless or plain boring question I get asked from people unaware of being inattentive, rude or just way too curious. People that are actually, at least in their mind, trying to be nice and to do small-talk. Or to show me that they are open-minded, interested, willing to know me better.

I know for sure that in the past I was used to getting absolutely annoyed by those questions. I took them personally, I felt mistaken, mistreated, attacked, put in a box. I let those questions define me and what I thought people were thinking about me because of the questions they were asking.
At least to some degree, I really was in a box.
And then, something made click, and I started to find the situation fascinating.

[Just FYI... Nobody likes to be put in a box. 
Not even in a wonderful, fancy, decorated one.
Nope, not even in a purple one]

You could ask what do I find so fascinating in all this, after all.
Human nature is fascinating.
How people communicate is fascinating.
How human dynamics work is very fascinating indeed and all these patterns and all these questions, and also all the kinds of behavior those questions are related to, don't say anything about me.
The questions are not me being willing to travel, having decided to stay away from some popular social media, suffering from celiac disease or being vegan.

These questions say something about the people asking them. About how they think, how they feel, how they live, what they believe to be acceptable and right and convenient to ask and to say.

About whether or not they are good listeners and able to remember what people told them or what is important for someone they are talking to.
About whether or not they can think outside the box and imagine doing what they want to do and not what other people expect them to do and whether they can, therefore, accept that other people don't always try to keep up with the Joneses or the Kardashians.
About whether or not they can show empathy and some caring with sensitive topics that may not affect them but that can be very relevant and present for someone else.
About whether or not they are curious or get defensive when confronted with something (or someone) different from what they consider normal and "natural" and whether or not they even ask themselves what "normality" means in the first place or how it should look like.
Not to mention whether or not normality exists. (Note: this would be a very long off-topic question and we will not go there today)

[MTV's Daria Morgendorffer at the movies...
or how it feels sometimes to be a little bit different]

Those behaviors say something about other people, not about me or the life I chose to live.
It says that maybe they have not so much imagination or are afraid of not fitting in, or can't discuss topics like diseases, aging, death and such without feeling uncomfortable, or that they judge something they don't know just while listening to the hype of the moment or what their cousin Jimmy says.
It may say that for them belonging at any cost is the most important thing, or that they were not exposed to a bigger number of alternatives and options during their life or that they actually were and they discarded them, or that they could have a short attention span... I will never know for sure, and at the end of the day, it doesn't matter.

Why should I bother about this? What for?
And what should you?

To give your positive or negative attention to something is a way of giving energy. The most damaging form of behavior is withholding your attention. 
Masaru Emoto [1943-2014]

The next time someone asks you a question that makes you feel typecasted, blamed for no reason, forgotten, mistreated or simply annoyed, take a deep breath and then relax and smile.
As long as you are able to stay calm and understand that it is not about you and you are just the mirror for other people fears, insecurities, shortcomings and hidden bias, you will be totally fine, in whatever direction the conversation may go.

Because you are free. You are free if you want to.
Nobody can put you in a box if you don't let them.

Tags: Bad questions, Hidden bias, Diversity, Emotional freedom, Small-talk, Communication, Celiac disease, Quotes

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