Getting to Know People


I have some difficulties. Lots of people do. One of mine is that the people who most arouse my interest and curiosity are normally the hardest to get to know on any level. They are often awkward defensive and wary. Within this self erected wall they are also full of insight , observation and curiosity: all qualities which resonate well with me. Some display outstanding aesthetic awareness. Looking in their eyes I sometimes get that “What are you doing here” response, as if they already know me even though I know we don’t know each other.

I met someone recently who has outstanding aesthetic abilities, is delightfully irreverent and questions much around herself. These are all great qualities in my book, and if we were both really drunk we might have a great conversation. However it is obvious to me that it would be easier to climb up a sheer ice cliff in slippers than to get her to open up . I met a man recently who is a powerful corporate machine with a glittering career to boot. You could feel the awareness in him and he searched my face intently, and almost rudely, for answers without actually speaking. When I said hello he mumbled a reply but didn’t offer any trace of connection. I have an air about me of someone who is easy with life and might have some ability, and he couldn’t work out why someone with my ability had such little material success. The reason, if your curious, is that I don’t care enough about it to make a concerted effort to reach that “Bentleys at Dawn” club open to the succesful among us.

I have come across Blogs where I say, wow, what an amazing person and try to leave a comment which indicates that they have connected with me on a genuine level. Etiquette being what it is you can’t say, leave me your email, Skype phone number or anything as that would be stepping over the boundaries of impersonal intimacy which governs much of internet conversation.

Many people are friendly and warm and if I meet them under certain conditions open up within the context of the place we are in. It might be some kind of dancing venue or a dinner party or whatever. Both of us are stumped as to how we might move this connection into a wider range of venues so it stays within those walls. Many people are friendly as a stock approach, but you feel their warmth is almost the product of fear and culture rather than personally directed. Often there is little in them that makes me want to know more about them. I’m not good at social clichés or stock responses.

As I have often said before, the most ordinary among us have  extraordinary qualities within them. These often never reveal themselves unless that person is pitched into a particular situation which draw out these rare expressions or characteristics. Without that situation they can troll along on a path of bland normalcy unaware of the person they could also be.

Perhaps I am like that myself, or one of those awkward difficult people who you find it hard to connect with. I’m really not sure which one I am. Perhaps it’s a bit of both.

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About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in blog, character, community, creative writing, Environment, Life, life2 and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Getting to Know People

  1. I love your phrase, ‘the most ordinary… Have extrodinary qualities’. It is a lesson I have been learning myself recently about some people I have known for years but never really got to know before. Thank you for the insight.

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  2. I always feel we tend to underestimate people and ignore those who are most deserving of our attention – often to our own detriment and at a loss to ourselves. Your penultimate paragraph is so true. Very often a stranger can see that something special in someone else – but, for various reasons, shyness, lack of confidence, fear of rejection, or, as you say, ‘netiquette’, feel unable to let that person know. And so the person continues on the path of bland normalcy as you so vividly characterise it, whereas a few words from that stranger may have changed their whole life.

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    • Abby says:

      I think this comment is absolutely brilliant, as you somehow managed to encapsulate what I’ve been thinking for, oh, the past five years. So, so spot-on (in my world) and insightful, unlike this lame comment on my behalf.

      At any rate, this was an incredible comment. I second it 100 percent.

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  3. Kirri White says:

    I think we are all a bot of both, depending on the environment and people we find ourselves mixing with…This post really hit a nerve with me today and I’m not exactly sure why. It just did. Sometimes you write things that resonate at a deep level and I find I need to go away and figure out what it all means! Thank you though…I’m grateful.

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  4. Lady E says:

    Mmm, “the most ordinary among us have extraordinary qualities within them. These often never reveal themselves unless that person is pitched into a particular situation which draw out these rare expressions or characteristics”. I have found this is true too, some people I had not expected have revealed their amazing kindness, caring, resourcefulness to me this year.
    Sadly it goes both ways, and other people I had expected qualities from failed to have them.
    On a more personal note, I know there’s a Channel between us, but I’m glad our paths crossed.
    x

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  5. ElizOF says:

    I think you should take the chance and connect with the person you mentioned… You might be nicely surprised. If you are not., chalk it up to experience.. life goes on,. I wonder about people I meet on the internet too and have met one or two… It can be an interesting exchange. Good Luck! 😉

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  6. Myra's voice. says:

    Extraordinary people are people. I catch your meaning. I say, jump and connect. You never know what may ignite. Energy knows NO bounds. “)

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  7. Larry Lilly says:

    Some people have walls around them with a small hammer left at the outside for you to use to slowly peck away at the hard veneer to get inside. Others leave no hammer at all and the remainder have no walls but a hammer used to strike you down. But deep down we are all basically alike, using either success, other people or no one to establish our worth.

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  8. Lisa (Woman Wielding Words) says:

    We all carry insecurities with us, and sometimes those insecurities build unintentional walls. Sometimes it takes a while to find an opening in those walls, but it can be done with patience and a little persistence, unless of course you really aren’t meant to connect. I tend to be a shy person, especially in social situations. Of course, many people don’t believe that because if I’m teaching or something I can put on the facade of confidence and friendliness. But, when it comes to one-on-one interactions, I am first cautious and then warm. All that means, though, is that both people in the conversation might have to work a little harder to let each other in.

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  9. Caroline says:

    I met someone recently over a coffee and cake who I felt totally at ease with. It was great to chat for an hour or so with on so many topics!

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  10. barbara says:

    Sometimes it’s easier to talk to total strangers than those you know intimately.

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  11. I understand some people find it hard to talk to others. I never had that problem and i treat everyone the same, as i find them.
    I talk to a paper millionare quite often and we get on well, then the opposite, i do work in a mental home, and i talk to them as equals.
    I have meet some lovely people through the blog, but i know we will never see each other, but thats life.
    On holiday its easy to talk to strangers, but i would not do it very often at home.

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  12. Everyone is ordinary and extraordinary in my book. The difficulty is finding what it is about each other that connects us in a way that isn’t superficial. Many people put up walls to keep people out and, as you so brilliant said, you might as well be climbing a wall of ice with slippers–you’ll never get in if they don’t want you to. Others, well, they are open books–but not every chapter may be open to everyone.

    That”s what makes people so darned interesting. We’re all alike on some level and we’re all unique. Getting to know each other is a delicate dance. We may get our toes stepped on and we may do our share treading on others’ feet, but, in the end, we live to be connected to each other.

    On of the biggest surprises of blogging for me has been how much I’ve opened my life to others and they have to opened their lives to me. I was leery of the internet and privacy–and still am in many ways–but this community seems safe and supportive. I hope others feel the same way.

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    • You are right I know. It is more an observation about a particular kind of person than humanity as a whole. There’sonly so much you can cram into five hundred words but you point is well made

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  13. I always fail at first impressions either I say too much or too little. I guess that makes me awkward but it is always interesting the people you can meet when you put yourself out there….

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  14. redheadmouth says:

    I do not understand people in the “Bentleys at Dawn” club. They are mostly materialistic, fake people who I can barely hold a conversation with. They are awkward to me

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  15. nelle says:

    We all are. There are some in this world who are well known, who are known for some circumstance or some achievement, but in the end, they are like us. Every person alive has fears and dreams, likes and dislikes, wishes and regrets. Some of us may take advantage of opportunity; if we are fortunate, we create the opportunity, but none of this is ever a sole track, there is always someone else there with them or preceding them, clearing the path.

    I was a difficult person to know twenty years ago, at least if one intended to see below the surface to my inner workings. That was as true of my partner of almost 28 years as anyone else. My inner realm I guarded like the a bank vault, because the façade mattered, it was my shield behind which I could breathe easy. Today, without need for a shield, you can see the good and the bad of my life, and I hope the transparency allows others to see my dreams as they ever were.

    What I’ve found is that there is something extraordinary in all of us, we just make the mistake of judging extraordinary not by what they present to us, but by how it ranks in terms of publicity amongst the public, a notoriously inadequate way to measure any of us.

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  16. backonmyown says:

    Maybe it’s because we communicate in cyberspace, though I don’t think so, but I find you to be a bit of a mystery man. You obviously care about others. You refuse to take yourself seriously. And you’re a deep thinker and philosopher. That’s what I think! 🙂

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    • Thats very nice thing to say Pat. It is very difficult to be specific in cyberspace. I wasn’t talking about everybody. I was talking about a certain type of individual. It’s just as true to say I meet lots of people who are unaffected, generous of nature and will share their most secret recipes with you for the price of a cup of tea. It just wasn’t those people I was talking about. It was more the awkward “gifted” ones who are hard to approach.

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  17. Ina says:

    This is food for thought. Sometimes you meet people that say exactly what you needed to hear at that moment, and those people might change your life, even save it without knowing.
    I am a social desaster myself, I am very good at saying the wrong things without knowing (but sometimes the opposite happens and I find out much later). Especially on the internet, I am not always expressing myself the way I intended. It comes out the wrong way, misunderstandings are easily made on the net. But we can always learn. To really connect with people through internet is not easy, as you have no idea how to approach them, I can relate to that. You don’t want to be pushy, and experience has learned nice people can turn into no so nice anymore for reasons you don’t know. Which is a painfull lesson. So you are carefull maybe.

    I think if you can write a post like this, you should be able to connect to the people you want to and they can see you for whom oyu are. You are good in expressing yourself. Good luck 🙂 Good post!

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  18. Tilly Bud says:

    I have made some wonderful friends through blogging. I get your point about swapping details, but patience is all that is required. Regular visits, friendly comments – rather like the offline world – and eventually those things will come.

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  19. Big Al says:

    Within each soul resides a poet.The prodigious ones, like Shakespeare and our closest friends, we get to know and enjoy. The more laconic ones, probably afflicted with some degree of autism (of which, there are many degrees), we strain to hear and know. In between are an affable group that come and go in our lives like two ships passing in the night.

    We just learn to appreciate the beauty and continually soak in the knowledge of the first group, take quick instruction from those in the middle group and lament the unspoken verse of the latter. Such is life.

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  20. —Ducky,
    All I can say is that those people are missing out on your friendship & beauty….
    I feel you are quite connectable, insightful & interesting…. x

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  21. Julie says:

    I think, CD, that the rare times we open our souls to others who seem to truly care, we can have a tendency to expect them to do likewise. If that doesn´t happen, we can feel quite exposed and embarrassed — if not immediately, then possibly over time.

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