My encounter with a Person in Power the day before yesterday needs some reflection. In the last 2 days, I have moved from an emotional response, a desire to get back at the person with all the things I realized I should have said at the time, and which occurred to me only hours later, to a reflective state. I need to analyze what happened, and how I behaved, what happens and how I behave, to be able to learn the things I already know.
1. My capacity to tolerate aggression is dangerously large. This has been proved in my earlier marriage. One would have thought I had grown up. This comes from an innate politeness, a desire to be ‘nice’, to be approved of. To consider myself a ‘good person’ is also such pompousness.
2. I am unable to stand up for myself when intimidated. My ability to listen to the other person’s point of view makes me forget my own point of view at times.
3. In a conflict situation, I respond with extreme calm which is almost a shut down of all my responses. I am afraid I will burst into tears if I begin to respond. Which is why I often prefer a frigid calm.
4. I expect Other Assorted People in the situation to see what is right, and just, and stand up for it, to be supportive, which is pointless to expect when I don’t stand up for myself. Perhaps the other people are also intimidated, playing ‘nice’, playing safe, like me.
5. My sense of responsibility towards a project, towards work, is sometimes at the cost of my self dignity. Years of struggling financially, and some years of single parenting when Dhanno was very little, have made me swallow all kinds of bitter pills to keep things going, when it would have been more righteous to walk out. It would also have been so much more dramatic, so satisfying.
6. I realized that what comes across as power is usually an audio-visual play. There is a seating arrangement which spells ‘I am in charge’, a tone of voice, a facial sneer. Mostly, power is about who has the loudest voice, and who can get away with being most rude. The Person in Power in this situation, was someone I have been acquainted with for over 20 years, someone with a reputation of being sensible, sensitive, intelligent. But obviously the accoutrements of the chair gave him a voice which I had never heard before. I am clear that he has a right to his opinions, but the airing of those were offensive in a way they did not need to be, particularly when the conclusion to the meeting was a given, even before the meeting took place.
7. I came out of the meeting with the Person in Power and Other Assorted People, and crossed an assistant director who had worked with me on a shoot. I remembered how nasty I had been to him during the shoot. I still think that he had done enough to deserve my exasperation, but I do know that I had shown him my annoyance because he was my subordinate. I was unable to show my annoyance to many other people on the shoot who deserved it more, on other occasions, because they were not my subordinates. I know that though I might resent the Person in Power, given a chance, I can easily be one myself.