Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt: What would I change if I looked for other people’s good intentions?
See, that’s actually often a problem for me. I have a very hard time not looking for good intentions. And that has, at times, set me up to be bullied or abused. A bully with good intentions is still a bully, and it’s not my job to fix them or to read their minds to figure out how to adapt my own behaviour accordingly to make it “better.”
Some folks are aware that I suffered workplace bullying in my former position. Perhaps it was true that the manager in question just did not know how to manage, or was under pressure herself to deliver results. Maybe she did mean well. But I didn’t owe her compassion when her actions towards me were so completely abusive, whether it was ridiculous micromanaging, denying credit for good work (but heaping blame when something went wrong), or encouraging her reports to gang up on each other.
That saying about how the road to hell being paved with good intentions? It’s absolutely true. In any new situation, I do try to assume good intentions, but actions predicate actions. If your actions are hurting me–and I don’t define giving constructive feedback as “hurting” me, so long as the issues raised are legitimate and you’re not a jerk about it–my priority is going to be to minimize the hurt–usually by getting away from you and dialing back interaction to a cool politeness. That wasn’t your intention? I’m happy to accept an apology graciously, and to cut you some slack, but a pattern of behaviour will neutralize my natural good will.
It’s apparently 70s night tonight. Browsing through the list of movies we have digital copies of, I noticed Network, one of the better satires ever made. I hadn’t seen it in probably 20 years, and it’s been getting the odd mention lately because of its prescience about the decline of traditional news and the rise of news entertainment. And it absolutely does still ring true, even after 45 years (it dates from 1976). The interesting part is that the network in the movie uses leftists to generate ratings, whereas the real thing ended up pandering to the right. In any case, Peter Finch as Howard Beale is spectacular, demonstrating the power of going viral years before the Internet even really existed. (“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” is still a thing.). Faye Dunnaway plays what would become a bit of a trope for her, a career-obsessed woman with ice in her veins. Both she and Finch won Academy Awards for their roles.
And then it was time for more episodes of The Muppet Show. Tonight was the episode with “It Isn’t Easy Being Green.” I get a kick out of seeing the half-forgotten stars of my childhood years (and a few who I don’t recognize at all.)
Meanwhile, my cross stitch is getting there–but I had to play thread chicken with one of the colours tonight. Since this kit comes from Europe (Latvia, I believe) it doesn’t have thread I can just buy more of at Michael’s. But I should be able to finish it easily tomorrow. And I should have time for writing the thing I’ve been working on.
Earlier today I had an odd little taste of the old days. I drove out to Gitta’s for curbside pickup of some embroidery thread, then stopped off for some Danish Pastry House tasties and South St. Burgers. Then, I experienced rush hour QEW traffic. As I sat there feeling the car vibrate from the Shostakovich 11th symphony, I remembered that I was doing the same thing exactly a year ago–my last day in the office. I’d driven in instead of taking the GO out of “an abundance of caution”, which was the big catch phrase at the time. I think I might have even brought home Danish Pastry House goodies then as well, as well as Union Chicken.
(Has it come to this? Fondly reminiscing about being caught in rush hour traffic?)