Sunday, August 23, 2009

Instruction manual

Someone told me that he finds me unfathomable, and that someone should write an instruction manual for me. This is what I came up with:
  1. I only talk if people are interested in what I have to say. There's no point in talking to people who ask questions just for the sake of making conversation, or in talking to people who just want to hear themselves talk. Ask me questions and be interested in the answer. Tell me things because you actually want me to hear them.
  2. If you wonder how I feel or what I think, ask me. I'm egotistical -- happy to talk about myself.
  3. Being direct and open, even if it's clumsy, is better than being smooth and charming, because it's more honest. The exception to being direct:
  4. Any subtle hint that I did something wrong or that you don't like me I'm likely to pick up on even if it's subtle.
  5. Don't tell me to cheer up, or that I should not be upset about something.  If something bothers me, respect the fact that it bothers me.
  6. Don't tell me what to do. Conveying some useful facts can be acceptable at times, but don't tell me that I'd be happier if I spent more time doing a particular thing. Your advice on how to reform myself is not what will help me blossom. Instead:
  7. You help me blossom just by listening to me and believing in me. When you point out my strengths, that helps those strengths to blossom.
  8. I know my flaws. When you accept me for who I am, you give me space to work on correcting them. When you criticize me, I flare up on the defensive, which does not leave me room to grow.
  9. I might not know all my flaws, or all the ways that I might hurt you, so if I do something that bothers you, just inform me that it bothers you and trust me that I'll try to fix it, rather than yelling at me for doing it.
  10. When people are pushy, i.e. telling me what I should do and not being interested in listening to me, I am likely to respond by shutting off. I say what I need to in order to be polite, but I don't share who I am with them.
  11. However, that's not the only reason I'm quiet, so don't assume that's what's going on if I'm not talking. Maybe you just said something so fascinating that now I'm thinking hard.
  12. If you tell me I should do something (read a certain book, engage in a certain activity) that may decrease my interest in doing it, because I want to make my own choices. However if you tell me that you like something, that may increase my interest in it.
  13. The measure of a person is their compassion, respect, and integrity. I don't measure you by your lifestyle, habits, quirks, prestige, etc.
  14. Don't talk about what morons other people are. It's okay to talk about how much they annoy you, because that's about your own feelings.
  15. Don't think that you are better than other people. Don't think you deserve a high salary because you worked so hard to get where you are.
  16. Live a life of conscience, and understand that I also live a life of conscience, even though our consciences may lead us down different paths. Strive to be the best person you can be, and support me as I strive to be the best person I can be.
  17. Be responsive to how other people feel. Back off when you bother someone.
  18. Although it's true that it's disrespectful to talk endlessly about topics that don't interest me, or to tell me things that will hurt me, on the other hand, keep in mind that I am flattered when you choose share your thoughts, feelings, and interests with me, even though they might not be the same things I would be interested in. I want to know who you are, even though that includes parts that are different from me.  When you choose not to share something with me, you are shutting me out of a part of you.
  19. On the other hand, I do respect that there are some things that you don't want to talk about.  As I get to know you, I'll make note of the topics you don't like to talk about, and I'll stay away from them.
  20. I like conversations where people build on each other's ideas. This requires that people engage in understanding each other's ideas. I don't like it when people are just trying to prove their points without listening to each other.
  21. If I invite you to do something and you don't want to do it, just say no.  Don't clutch at straws in a desperate attempt to find an excuse.  When you clutch at straws, what I hear is that you're lying to me, and that you are desperately trying to evade me.  
  22. If you are done being friends with me, then go.  I deserve to be with people who cherish and respect me.  If you keep hanging around for fear I'll be devastated by your departure, stop being so full of yourself and just go.  
  23. I love to be silly and laugh. I like to frolic and sing and roll in the grass and play with kids.
  24. The greatest joy in life is to be with friends and family.
  25. I like to talk about my family. The best way to get me talking is to ask about my family.
  26. Close friends are adopted family.
  27. I like to keep track of who is who and how they are connected to each other. For example, today after my radio show, my mother was very interested to keep track of the fact that the members of Schooner Fare are Chuck Romanoff, Steve Romanoff, and the late Tom Rowe, and that Tom Rowe was the father of Dave Rowe of the Dave Rowe Trio. When I was in school, I would tell my mother and aunt who all the kids in my class were. Now I am fortunate to have a job that involves a lot of keeping track of information about people.
  28. I am more comfortable with kids than with grownups.
  29. I like to write about my ideas and make lists of stuff, such as this "instruction manual," as well as lists of favorite musicians, favorite songs, etc. I make a lot of to-do lists, ranging from chores to do today to goals for the rest of my life. I'm not so big on implementation. In the same way, when playing make-believe as a child, I would invent a cast of characters, but then lose interest when it got to time for the characters to do things.
  30. I love the outdoors. I am completely head-over-heels captivated by being on the rocky ocean shores of Maine. Other bodies of water are nice too, viewed from shore or from a boat. I love rollerblading. I love walking barefoot in the grass. I love leafy green trees. I love sunshine, blue skies, and sunsets over water.
  31. I love music (not all music, but certain music). I love dancing.
  32. I thrive in a community in which people strive to treat each other with kindness and respect, and which values what I have to offer.
  33. I try to shop at locally owned businesses and farmer's markets, and to get organic food. If I ever become a homeowner, I want solar power.
  34. I try to be kind to all, but I am selective about whom I get close to.

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