Sunday, September 25, 2005
The journey of self-discovery has certainly been enlightening. Everyday I realize what a complex individual I am and how difficult dealing with me might be for some people. This weekend, while conducting a leadership workshop on conflict management, I acknowledged that I use accommodation as a mode to address conflict. According to The Foundation Coalition's web page,
the accommodation mode is low assertiveness and high cooperation. Times when the accommodating mode is appropriate are to show reasonableness, develop performance, create good will or keep peace.
I certainly recognize those patterns in myself and I accept the description as accurate. The site goes on to say that "some people use the accommodating mode when the issue or outcome is of low importance to them." This I also certainly believe to be true of myself. I recognize that I will yield to the will of others at times when my immediate agenda is not disturbed. What I find really funny is that although I can recognize this behavior I cannot recall specific instances. Where I am really able to identify is with how the mode plays out through communication.
The accommodating mode can be problematic when one uses the mode to "keep a tally" or to be a martyr. For example, if you keep a list of the number of times you have accommodated someone and then you expect that person to realize, without your communicating to the person, that she/he should now accommodate you. THAT
, I clearly recognize. It directly relates to a previous post in which I wrote about helping people in need. I lied and said that I've never thought too much about repayment. It wasn't a complete lie, but I now clearly recognize that I do have an expectation that kindnesses will be reciprocated. And
I'm disappointed when they are not. I would never be petty and say "Remember when..."
but I am not above running someone into the ground for their "selfishness," which is so unfair when that person may not even recognize what I perceive to be their selfishness. I really
see the martyr thing going on with my grandmother. And here I go with another story.
My grandmother has a niece, I'll call her Flora, who is a little over a year younger than she. Because of her strong obligation to family, or so I believed, she has come to the aid of Flora on a few occasions, most notably when she provided a home for Flora's young daughter when she was in a delicate condition. Back in da day when a daughter would turn up pregnant, the parents would send that child away to quietly give birth. Perhaps to avoid embarrassment or get the child away from the environment where they engaged in the behavior that created the predicament, the reason is not always particularly clear. In any event, Flora's daughter ended up at our house, where she lived until her child was born and she rejoined her parents. Other instances of my grandmother's altruism occured when Flora's son came to live with us for a period after completing college and also when Flora spent a few months in our home with her husband and two children while awaiting the close on their new home. These were certainly not huge inconveniences in my mind, but I was a child who loved when people came to visit. I'm not sure what kind of strain may have been placed on my grandparents, but then I wouldn't have been privy to such information. Besides, as far as I can see, they should have been happy to accommodate since it was Flora's mother who provided shelter for them when they first came to town and were awaiting a residence of their own. But let's get back to the behaviors that identify my grandmother's martyr complex.
During the time that Flora was staying with us, she bonded with my great aunt who lived in the garage apartment behind our house. To this day, when she comes to town to visit, she goes to see that aunt and usually brings her a home made cake because my aunt has a sweet tooth the size of a Buick. My grandmother is clearly bothered that she is not given the same treatment. She will criticize what she perceives to be inconsideration, especially in light of "all she has done." Yet I've never heard her say, "Flora, sometimes I wish you would come see me and bring me a cake too." Such a statement would immediately ellicit a response on Flora's part and all would be right with the world, but then my grandmother would have nothing to complain about, which I think is very important to her.
My own martyrdom plays out in a couple of ways, most of which I recognize and accept. I always make an effort to remember everyone's birthday and I will usually acknowledge by sending a card or gift. Yet my own birthday goes unnoticed [except this year when Bobby Brown, Jr.
feted me with a surprise birthday gathering]. I have come to accept that others may not look upon birthdays in the same way that I do and I am no longer hurt when mine goes unnoticed. I'm really not. I like for folks to know that I am thinking of them and I no longer wonder if they are thinking about me. I am satisfied with knowing that they are, at least, thinking of me when they receive their acknowledgement. Besides, it's now such a habit for me that I sometimes forget that I sent a card. I am also quick to provide financial assistance if I can. I like to think that I can go to those for whom I have provided loans if I need to, but the fact is that I will not borrow from everyone. There are only two people that I feel confident about going to in times of financial distress because I know that they will extend if it's within their power. I seldom hear a no from them. And that's what I want. Yes across the board. No disappointments. I accept that about myself and still love me.
I really love that I have this space to unpack my bags. I'm not even mad when y'all see a skidmark in my drawers. They're going to the laundry. I am guilty of accommodating. I commit to pay more attention to the motives behind the behavior so that my interactions have less of a chance to become toxic. As for my grandmother... that's her biz'ness. She gon' be who she is and I can attempt to bring her behavior to her attention, but at the end of the day I got my own bag to unpack. Like Jake and Elwood, I'm on a mission from God. Mine is to better understand my purpose and live a life that's full and satisfying.
Posted by Rodney ::
9:37 AM ::
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