The great luxury of my regular lifestyle is that I don't have to play nicely with others, which has always been a challenge. I'm never really happy in a working group or a team unless I am running things -- but the responsibilities of leadership make me anxious and depressed and ultimately burn me out, which is why I left management.
Being a stage manager, though, is kind of ideal: I have authority without the ultimate responsibility for decision-making. I'm now dealing with far more people on a daily basis than I'm used to, and getting back into a small-group dynamic was one reason I wanted to do this. Social skills atrophy with disuse, and I worry that my current lifestyle is a bad cycle: I live and work the way I do because I can't suffer fools, thereby reducing my opportunities to learn how.
Not, I hasten to say, that anyone I'm currently working with is a fool. In fact, as one of my colleagues said last night, this whole process has been a sort of 15-way blind date, and as such, it's working out amazingly well. The actors in our cast are talented, bright and game for almost anything, and we don't have a diva in the bunch. They're assimilating a massive amount of information (information that's still changing) in a very short period of time, and I'm blown away by them.
We're all working very hard, and everybody seems pretty cheerful about that; last Friday aside, I'm cheerful myself, and having a great time.
But yesterday one of my colleagues made it clear that this intense workload is causing him suffering, and indicated that he needs some sympathy and admiration for this suffering -- and I had none to give. I was sharp, for which I need to apologize today. I also need to figure out how to respond to this without feeling angry about it, and how to give this colleague what he needs so we can all get through the next three weeks in peace, and remember the experience fondly.
So how do I do this? How do you respond to unspoken messages and unexpressed needs? How do you help change the narrative in other people's heads?
Five Random Songs
"The Bleeding Heart Show," The New Pornographers. Excellent cheering-up music...
"Every Day is Like Sunday," Morrissey. ... followed by music to send you back to bed. "How I dearly wish you were not here."
"Spring & All," Mary Chapin Carpenter. From a tribute album to songwriter Greg Brown.
"Trouble of the World (Coming Home)," The Nappy Roots. Gospel hip-hop from the soundtrack of The Ladykillers.
"Six O'Clock News," John Prine. A sad song about how a young man goes wrong.