When Nice Doesn’t Cut It

I’ve decided to veer off the techie side for this week (until tomorrow’s Fetching Friday, of course). It’s been an emotional week, and one during which I have made some interesting self-discoveries.

The biggest one that I have been learning over the past few months is that nice doesn’t cut it when it comes to getting what you want, and in some cases, deserve. I’ve always been one to be as nice as much as possible when it comes to dealing with other people. I let things slide, I take their feelings into account before my own, I don’t get upset at the people I should get upset at, so on and so forth.

But there have been situations recently that have really required me going against my nature and stepping into the “dark side” as I would like to call it. When you can’t get things done being nice, it is time to start putting your foot down.

Executive Email Carpet Bomb

My first real experience of not playing nice was with a particular financial institution. I have gotten fees that I thought were unfair, and have called in, and let the customer service rep explain their “reasoning” and not pushed it any further, assuming that if they say no, there is nothing more I could do about it. Then one day, I got fees that there was no good explanation for. The customer service rep, as always, told me how “their” system works and why the fees were non-reversible.

So, because customer service was not understanding my point, I took it a step further and sent what is known as an executive email carpet bomb. In this letter, I explained why their system sucked, why I deserved to have the fees reversed, and exactly what I would do if I didn’t receive appropriate resolution, which not only included leaving their institution, but also making sure that they’re name was attached to some detailed articles all around the web about all the reasons of why I left. I also threw in my SEO skills, so that it would be clear that those articles would be found by their potential customers.

The result? I got a call the next business day from the assistant to one of the many upper level executives that received my email. She was actually really nice (nothing like the customer service reps had been) and talked to me for almost an hour, explaining how their system works and how the fees happened. But she also listened to my side and understood why I saw the fees as undeserved. My fees were credited the next day.

Trading Services

A pet peeve that has arose as a result of my freelance work is trading services vs. direct payment. If you go in, and get something done, and you pay for it, then it is done. Whereas, if you are trading services where I do this work for you, and you will do some service in exchange for it, you are stuck in a position where you feel like you owe something to them. I don’t like this feeling. There has to be balance.

When we’re having a meeting about the work I am doing for you, I don’t expect to take the hour we have set aside for that meeting to talk about the service you are doing for me. Just the same, when I come in for the service you are doing for me, I don’t want to talk about the work I’m doing for you. Depending on the service, it can put a real negative energy on the situation, making the service become less beneficial, and not really worth the exchange. There has to be a line, saying this is an appointment where we discuss my work for you, and that is an appointment where we discuss the service I am receiving from you. The two should not mix.

Also, if I am able to pay you for something, let me pay you. Don’t reject my money with the “understanding” that I now owe you something later, whatever that may be. Take the cash or do it for free. Your choice. I don’t want to feel obligated to doing some random thing for you down the road that will ultimately end up costing more in time and resources than what you did for me. You doing something for me that takes 10 minutes does not equate to me doing something for you that takes half an hour, two hours, etc. It seems relatively obvious that half an hour of my time is worth more than ten minutes of yours. It’s like you giving me a $10 gift card, with expectation that I will pay you $30 later. No matter how nice you are, you are still taking advantage of me, and I don’t appreciate it.

Putting My Feelings First

This part is a work in progress. A lot of the times, I will do things I don’t want to do, or not do things I want to do, all because I am considering someone else’s feelings before my own. After a nice, long writing session, I realized that approach was not working for me, as I have been missing out on things that I truly wanted to do. So now, I am working towards saying you know what, I want to do this. I’m not going to put it off or wait till later. Or, alternatively, I don’t want to do this, as in, it takes every bit of my emotional and mental stamina to survive this particular event. Why should I put myself through that kind of torture?

Considering the Best Approach

While the above situations have required or will require me to take the not nice as I generally am route, every situation really requires a lot of contemplation of what approach to use in order to get the best results.

  • Will putting your foot down help the other party see your point of view?
  • Will explaining your side of things make you feel better about the situation?
  • Is it possible that positive change could happen?
  • Is the person you are about to make your stand against responsible for the problem?
  • Will taking a stand worsen the situation?
  • Is there any form of retribution the other party may be able to take against you if things should go badly?

There are lots of considerations to make before choosing to make a stand, or standing down. Just be sure that you are doing what is in your best interest, as you are the one who has to live with the circumstances.

Beyond Sight – Appreciating Beauty

When most of us think of something beautiful, we think of using our sense of sight. But what are the other ways we can appreciate a thing of beauty?

Beyond Sight – Use of the Other Senses

Of course, we can appreciate beautiful things with our eyes, whether we are looking at people, nature, etc. But what can we do beyond that?

Let’s start with the sense of smell. Think about looking at a flower. Instead of just seeing the depth of the red rose, get closer and breathe in its fragrance. If you are standing near the top of a mountain, take in the view while absorbing the fresh air. When you are close to someone, pay attention to their scent, that particular fragrance or cologne, or just that aroma that is unique to them.

Then there is the sense of hearing. In the outdoors, you can hear wind rustling the leaves, water trickling down a stream, birds singing, and many other sounds of nature. Relax by listening to gentle music, or the beautiful voice of a great singer. Go beyond the looks of a person, and listen to what they say about their beliefs, and their dreams.

With the sense of touch, you can feel a rose’s delicate petals, the softness of a dandelion’s seed head, and the warmth of a loved one’s embrace.

With the last sense, the sense of taste, you can taste the kiss of true love, probably one of the most beautiful use of the that sense. You can create a visually appealing meal and slowly savor every bite. You can appreciate the work that went into a honeycomb, and taste the honey from it.

Experiencing Beauty Through Emotions

Whenever you apply any of your senses to appreciate something beautiful, you also have the opportunity to let the beauty affect you deeply. Standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, you can not only marvel it’s greatness in size, feel the winds on your skin, breathe in the fresh air, and hear the sounds of people voicing their awe. You can let one of nature’s greatest wonders take your breath away.

When you look at a stunning piece of art, you can go beyond visual appreciation by contemplating what the artist may have been inspired by, and what feelings the work evokes within you.

Sharing Beauty with Others

One of the most common ways beauty is shared with others, especially in the internet world, is through photographs. How can you help others truly appreciate a photo more than aesthetically? Use of present tense details, such as the weather conditions, the sounds around you, the way you felt when taking the photo, what inspired you to taking it, and how it made you feel when looking at it later would help those looking at it go into the moment with you, the photographer.

Finding Beauty Within Yourself

Finally, it is always important to remember that there is a beauty that lies with all of us. We do not have to always be looking towards others, or traveling to far away places to find something beautiful. There is something that makes each of us unique, and that is beautiful in itself. Find that beauty, and share it with the world. Encourage others to find what is beautiful in themselves.

How Do You Do It?

And now I ask you… how do you appreciate beauty?

A special thanks to one of my readers, PeaceLoveJoyBliss, for the intriguing question that inspired this post.

How Artistic Types Express Themselves

I believe that artistic types of people show their true selves, deepest thoughts, strongest emotions and even pieces of their subconscious through their form of art. Writers share imaginative and wonderful stories, or release demons that torment them by putting words to a page. Painters project the beautiful scenes in their mind or around them, or the dark images that disturb them in their dreams, onto canvas using brushes covered in oils, pastels or watercolors.

As much as I hate to admit it, this realization came to me one evening this past April while watching an episode of the Bachelor. In that episode, there was this girl, a songwriter, fighting for the affections of this guy while competing with several other girls. When the bachelor asked her directly about her feelings for him, she came off almost kind of ditzy while trying to explain, which ultimately led her to not receiving a rose. What she was able to do, prior to leaving the show, was write a song that was much more expressive of how she felt.

I could relate to her in the sense that I have found myself in many situations where I just cannot get the right words out to explain how I feel. Especially if the feeling is extremely strong. But what I can do is express myself in my writing, particularly through my poetry. I have notebooks and scraps of paper galore with examples of these kind of emotional poetic expressions covering a range of subjects. For this post, I will go back to poems I have shared previously.

The happiest one was written shortly before my fiancé told me he loved me. My first reaction when he did was to giggle. Of course, I said I love you too once the initial jubilation had calmed down. But I could not directly say how much I had wanted to hear those words from him. Instead, I shared with him a poem I had written about how I felt, Candlelight. That, along with a song that was perfect for the situation, expressed everything I could not find the words to say.

The second example was a piece I wrote about my grandmother. She is currently residing in a nursing home. When people ask me how she is, or how I feel in regards to her condition, I usually cannot express the depth of it. The sorrow of watching someone you love suffer, and know there is nothing you can do to help. Finally, I was able to write this, Slow Mourning. It helped unburden the sadness that had been building up inside me over the past year while watching her health slowly and painfully decline.

So here are my suggestions to you. If you know someone who writes songs or poetry, or paints, take the time to let them share their art with you. Chances are, you will learn so much more about them than they will every be able to say. If you are the artist, it does not matter how perfect your artwork is. When you find yourself in a place that you cannot say what you feel, try expressing it artistically, and then share it with the person you want to tell. This may open the door to much deeper, understanding relationships.

The Life of an Emotional Sponge

Empathy is a beautiful thing. I have always embraced the fact that I am able somewhat understand another person must be feeling in situations that I may not have experience with myself. And even if I do have experience with something similar, I am able to realize that I cannot fully understand what they are going through, as everyone’s emotions and reactions to situations are unique. But with empathy, I am able to at least be able to put myself in their place enough to help them get to the root of the thing troubling them.

The downside to this quality, for me, is that I have also become an emotional sponge. What others feel, I begin to feel as well. I absorb emotional energy of all types. Whenever the person I am with is openly feeling blue, I become blue myself, but at least in that circumstance, I know that the source is external instead of internal.

Some people, however, have the ability to mask their feelings on the surface and portray themselves as being stronger, happier, braver, etc. than they really are. I am, of course, one of those people who will hold something in until it bursts. It is not intentional, but just a natural reaction within some people. Especially with an empathetic person who feels their problems will be a burden on others. But other people conceal their feelings, it somewhat jams my radar. Instead of absorbing their emotion and knowing its source, I feel it and take it on as my own.

It takes a bit of time, but eventually I am able to identify it as not coming from within myself, and then am able to hone on the source. Ultimately, my empathetic side is not satisfied until some form of good takes place, in the form of helping identify a problem and find ways towards a solution. It is this drive that makes me so sensitive to others’ feelings.

Coincidences: Do You Notice?

Do you notice little coincidences? Perhaps think they are a sign?

Last night, my fiancé told me about making a wish when the time is 11:11. I had never heard of this before. Then this morning, while surfing the Postsecret blog, I saw this:

Postsecret 11:11 Make a Wish

It reminded me of how the universe gives us little hints or nudges in the right direction if we are aware of the little things in life. Two examples of how this worked in my life include:

  • Driving the same style vehicle, liking water at room temperature, and several other similar details led to knowing I found my soulmate.
  • Seeing a pharmacy worker with the same name of an old friend from many, many years ago led me to looking her up online. Sure enough, I found her, and now we talk often.

So my challenge to you: when you stumble upon a coincidence, give it a little thought. You never know what it could lead to!