It can be infuriating at times when you’re sat opposite someone and have absolutely no idea what cogs are turning in their heads. This feeling may arise when meeting a figure of authority for the first time, or even if your life long friend has a very well practised poker face.
When conversing with a potential customer in sales, or dragging your slick palms down freshly ironed slacks in an interview, we all wish we had the power to delve into the depths of someone’s head and see their perspective of ourselves. We want people to like us and we long to know how to make that happen. Over thinkers, like myself, may leave a conversation feeling like a complete inept at human communication. Did I nod too much? Did I sound pretentious and pompous? Did I do that jerky thing with my arms without realising?
If only we could be reassured by the knowledge that the other person were just as insecure as we were.
Tracy, who you thought found you tramp-like? Yeah, well she’s wearing last weeks knickers and it’s beginning to chafe.
Adam, the vegetarian you persistently offered sausage rolls to? Yeah, well his grandpa used to bludgeon piglets to death every evening and pretend he was a gladiator.
Hayley’s not even listening to you, she’s too busy worrying about the five slugs she found in her kitchen and considering staying at a hotel for a night, or possibly forever. Now she’s envisioning the slugs in graphic detail and you can’t seem to swallow the piece of cake you were eating.
How traumatised would we be if the true extend of the world’s insanity was visible to us?
Having immediate access to other minds would probably leave you none the wiser to whether the other person liked you or not. They would either be thinking of something else or just point out every little thing they notice about you.
Why is she wearing a huge jacket whilst indoors?
You gradually slip out of your layers, even though you’re cold.
Is that her fifth slice of pizza tonight?
You leave your plate on the side and pick up a bowl of lettuce.
I’m kind of hungry
You offer them your pizza
‘Don’t they know I’m on a low carb diet?! Are they trying to sabotage me?
You apologise profusely and ram the remaining slice into your mouth to make yourself shut up and end up choking.
Huh? Wow what a freak.
Are they okay? Why is their face that colour?
Okay, I’m going to leave.
Before you know it, you’re left standing there, a cold, hungry, weeping mess, worse off than before and utterly humilated. Despite your best efforts and good intentions, you’ve managed to bend and alter your actions and personality based on what other’s want. Each person you meet will be thinking something different, wanting something different and you can’t conform to all their expectations.
So don’t, it’s exhausting.
Leave your coat on, pick up your pizza and talk to people naturally. As long as you’re not intentionally a douchebag, then it doesn’t really matter. Misinterpretations happen all the time, we’re all guilty of them, but generally don’t hold them against people. it’s human error.
Felicity might find your voice annoying and Craig might hate the colour of your scarf, John thinks you’re a sociopath and Lacy doesn’t think you’ll succeed in your field. These things are true to them, but not to you.
Similarly, if Eunice idolises you and Gareth hangs on your every word, it doesn’t mean you’re great. Knowing that Iden thinks your lasts piece on Oil Spills was the best piece of journalism every written doesn’t make it so. We don’t need to know any of this. if the interviewer thinks you’re an uneducated slug from Hayley’s kitchen floor after you shake hands, you tried your best, keep your coat on and go for some pizza.
I want the superpower to access my own mind, to know it inside out like my favourite book. Look subjectively upon my own thoughts and change according to what I record.
The answer is not now to get people to like you, it’s how to get your own brain to like itself and other people. Have a mind that would make Hayley or Graham or Eunice or Felicity comfortable keeping their coats on and to reach for another slice of pizza. Now that’s a superpower.