Learning to interpret other people

Earlier this year I attended a conference.  The location was lovely and the layout was definitely attender friendly.  As is my practice, I try to move from table to table and meet new people during the course of the event.  I do not prefer this, but I practice this because I think it is a resilient, healthy way to learn at a multi-day event.  I find that sometimes I learn as much from my seat mates as I do from the conference leaders.  

On day two I moved to a new table and one of the ladies at the table took some actions that filled me and my traveling companion (I like sitting with my friend.) instantly with bitter indignation, i.e., resentment.  The upshot was I ended up with no space on the table in front of me, had to back my seat up, crane around her to see, and perch my notebook precariously on my knees to write the copious notes I am habitually wired to take. My friend’s seat was unceremoniously moved and she squeezed in with her back to the speaker. We felt unwelcome.  I thought she was trying to get rid of me and soon realized my friend felt likewise.  I wondered if this gal had friends she preferred to sit with and maybe we were interfering with her plans for hanging with people she knew and enjoyed.

I did not initially recognize resentment as my issue because I was so busy ruminating over all the ways this lady was a poor representation of the work she was there to learn about (she was rude and ungracious).  After the morning break, we changed tables.  Which, come to think about it, I could have actually done as soon as I noticed how uncomfortable I was going to be at this lady’s table.

Instead of getting curious I was cranky.  I took it personally.  I observed her do this to every single person who sat next to her for the remainder of the event.  I eventually came to recognize that this is how she sets herself up to receive information.  Unaware?  Yes.  Intentionally rude?  Ehhh, I dunno.

I recognized in myself something that I hope to change in the future.  I realized that my own lack of self-awareness and my willingness to blame others for my level of comfort - rather than taking responsibility for myself - repressed my creative problem solving capacity.  Sheesh, I could have just moved!!  

I missed out on a morning of lovely table mates and lively conversation - something I found at all the other tables I visited.  I lost out not because of her actions but my own inaction.

Resentment is a distraction.  No wonder resilient people don’t hang onto it for long!