There’s a bit more to being a writer than devising clever plots and characters, and writing well-crafted prose. Behind every interesting character is a story. Bits of history that blend with a person’s God-given personality to shaped who they become. To get to those nuances, writers have to understand the why behind their actions. Or, as I like to think of it–slip into amateur psychologist mode.
Guess which Rhenna is in the house today?
Yes, I’m knee deep in digging through one of my antagonist’s personalities right now, but he’s not the one I’m throwing up for analysis today. Today it’s me.
I’m a classic conflict avoidance kind of gal. Scary movies? No, thank you. All they do is add more worrisome possibilities for my too creative mind when I’m home alone. Thrillers and mysteries? Sometimes. Depends on how well grounded I’m feeling at the time. If I’m already pegged out on the stress-o-meter, I’ll pass. When in the presence of any kind of dispute, I almost instinctively put as much ground between me and the on-going battle as I can. Anger and discord ares almost palpable substances for me. It permeates my skin and makes me want to fidget. So I flee.
Interestingly enough, I’m also a call-it-like-I-see-it woman. Most of the time this is ok because the folks I surround myself with tend to be thoughtful, intelligent folks who lean toward collaboration. But every now and then, my two traits collide.
Like this past Monday.
Egads! (<–I assure you, the exclamation I used on Monday was far more…um….colorful.)
I had a run in with a man who asked for feedback, then wanted to argue every word I said. When I pointed out that he’d requested my comments, he got belligerent and went on attack.
Everything in my head went wonky. My adrenaline spiked to the point I couldn’t decide if I wanted to punch something, cry, or puke. (Crying ended up being the winner, but puking was a close second.)
Looking back on the scenario many hours and a good chunk of lost sleep later, I wished my flight instinct had kicked in a little stronger. Deep down, I know there was nothing wrong with what I shared with the man, and what I did share was done in a polite and sensitive nature. But hindsight tells me he’s the type who’d be reticent to listen regardless. So why dig in when the digging doesn’t matter?
How do you handle conflict? Fight or flight? Have you been in a situation where two sides of your personality collide to create a physical response?
SusanJanuary 29, 2014 at 9:15 am
Sad to say, there are people who say they want feedback, but who actually don’t. They want a pat-on-the-back and an attaboy. When they don’t get what they expect, they go into little kid mode and try to break all the toys.
But in answer to your question, it depends. If someone else is being attacked, I’ll attack back. But if I’M the person they’re going after, I usually back off. (Unless you really piss me off bad, then look out.)
I’m not sure where you were when this happened, but in the critique groups I’ve been in, the critiquee isn’t supposed to argue or reply. We just say thank you and keep the replies internal. Much nicer like that. (And nobody has to flee or fight.)
Sorry you got hold of a stinker. Hopefully, he’ll grow up someday.
Marianna HeuslerJanuary 29, 2014 at 11:18 am
I try not to argue. I usually just back off because it’s nearly impossible to change someone’s mind, and really, I have no interest in doing so. I think of the quote., “Don’t ever argue with a fool. People might not be able to tell you apart.”
RhennaJanuary 29, 2014 at 12:09 pm
Wow! That’s an awesome quote. Gotta stick that one in my back pocket…
SusanJanuary 29, 2014 at 7:03 pm
My husband’s quote is, “Never get into a hissing contest with a snake.” I like that.
RhennaJanuary 29, 2014 at 7:51 pm
That IS a good one. Hard to beat a snake at its own game.
Stacy McKitrickJanuary 29, 2014 at 1:17 pm
I guess I’ve done enough critiquing to know if the writer is being defensive of his work, then he’s not ready to be critiqued. I will not engage with this person, because I won’t gain anything from it. Does that make me a flyer?
Granted, I don’t handle conflict well and I try to avoid it at all costs. But if someone near and dear to me is being attacked, I won’t be silent.
RhennaJanuary 29, 2014 at 1:21 pm
Isn’t it interesting how much easier it is to stand up for someone close to us than it is to stand up for ourselves? I agree, if a person isn’t willing to listen, anything I say is wasted. Though I REALLY wished I’d have figured out their request for feedback wasn’t genuine a WHOLE lot faster than I did. 🙂
CJ BurrightJanuary 29, 2014 at 5:19 pm
Sorry you had to deal with someone who couldn’t handle the truth! That sucks, especially when YOU were the one doing the favor for HIM! I don’t shy away from conflict in books and movies, but I’m very much a peacekeeper in real life. I want people to get along. I try to mediate fights (daughter and hubby have had some doozies). I’m more likely to bring out the silent treatment than a battle cry.
RhennaJanuary 29, 2014 at 7:51 pm
I dunno….I can totally picture you with the battle cry thing…
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