Over breakfast on Sunday morning I was reading Michelle Bridges’ latest column in The Age. Her writing style, topics and connections to her readers are great examples of how someone focuses her area of expertise and communicates these across to multiple audiences. Now in traditional notions of blog posts about learning and teaching I could focus on these aspects and recommend some guiding principles on writing styles, connecting to social media and styles of writing, or even how we can learn from Michelle (@MishBridges) in how she communicates her expertise, advice, knowledge and understanding in a way that highlights ideas to be appreciated in intellectual layman terms. And we can learn a lot from Michelle in how she does this. BUT what especially caught my eye was what we can learn from Michelle’s topic of writing in her latest column – negative enablers, sabotagers and those negative people in our space who like to deliver those subtle self sabotage one-liners that leave us wondering, “did I just hear that?”
Negative enablers – I like to call them smiling assassins – you know those people who make a judgment call about you, your work, your way of life or your decisions that put you down. They are very good at delivering their perception (usually with very very little background knowledge) through a smile, and often a voice that is slightly raised in pitch. And often they don’t really know you or hardly know you at all. You know what I’m talking about – they are everywhere. At times I actually feel like I’m surrounded by them, and in all reality I have had to learn how to not take on board their “issues” that they seem to want to throw back at others or me. You know the transfer of blame, their low self-esteem, and frustrations with their own inadequacies that they see to think is okay to subtly throw back at others. In my last post I talked about changing perceptions, and in some ways this post connects in well. How many times do we consciously stand back and reflect on who is in our life? Or whom we come in contact with on a day-to-day basis through choice or not? And what do these people contribute to us? Are they positive impacts or negative? Do we consciously or unconsciously think about their influence on us? What do negative enablers or smiling assassins teach us?
I’m not sure about you, but for me I often find myself having to step back and take a break from people. My learning to stand back and reflect allows me to think about these questions – to reflect, reconnect, reevaluate and restructure who is in my life and who I value for their contribution to making me be the best version of me that I can be. I have learnt to surround myself with people who challenge me to be the best woman, educator, researcher, artists, sportsperson, friend, partner, listener and learner I can be.
Michelle talks about goals being set for looking after one’s health and fitness that contributes to emotional, physical and mental health. The connection to fitness and healthy choices with nutrition often features here but so too does the looking after one’s mental health – goal setting, balance, perspective, reflective capabilities, and being able to cope with life and the people, events and circumstances that come your way. I think this is incredibly important, and a post in itself (multiple actually). Who do we learn from? In thinking about who influences us, supports us and contributes to us as individuals who want to be the best versions of ourselves I think there has to be an awareness around the Negative Nancy and Smiling Sam Assassin’s in our space. The sabotage that comes from comments, actions, looks, and body language is one of the subtle sabotage maneuvers negative enablers use. Their techniques is more times than not subtle. So subtle that we are chipped away from multiple Nancy’s and Sam’s that we don’t realize until it is impacting us in how we view ourself. For these people at one point in time their way of operating was conscious as a way to cover their own feelings of low empowerment, low self-esteem, or resentment but now more times than not is a dominate feature in their interactions with others. But if you think about how many interactions in one day, week or a month with others who operate in this space, and then how this can impact you….yeah it adds up….then there has to be a definite awareness and observation with oneself to be able to flick these off. How do you acknowledge these people? Or do you? How do you cope? What do you say to yourself to not take on board the Negative Nancy and Smiling Sam Assassin? Do you have any affirmations you can share?