Daily writing prompt
How would you describe yourself to someone who can’t see you?

Presentation. It’s all presentation. 

Many of us have prepared “elevator talks” where we can present bits and pieces we want the other person to note. The zits are airbrushed away.

Someone I knew was on the membership committee of a private club. One evening at a meeting, we discussed how organizations could best recruit good people. He chuckled and said that his club had a firm rule on trial memberships of six months, ” anyone can fake it for a few months, but generally, by six months, their actual personality is revealed.” Reflecting on this, I thought about the many relationships I had had that seemed to burst with potential for a month or two, only to sputter out as we discovered all the things that can’t be contained in an elevator speech.

I don’t think there is anything evil about this. Human nature compels most of us to make a good impression. We all wish to present ourselves as stalwart individuals worthy of trust and admiration. That being said, we cannot always offer the same “us” all the time. For example, I used to show my carving at boat shows. As a marine woodcarver, certain essential parts of my identity were not central to how I presented to customers. I take being a parent very seriously, even now with four adult children. That’s not critical knowledge for someone looking to buy a hand-carved eagle for their office. They may be more interested in my work ethic, skill, and interest in taking care of their specific needs. Presenting myself as a pleasant, competent craftsman and business person is more important.

The parts of me that I present if I am in the field as an anthropologist tend to emphasize wonder and interest in what’s going on. Anthropologists, among themselves, sometimes refer to this as a field personality.

It’s not possible or wise to “let it all hang out.” It’s likely a bit more than people can cope with or want. So we deliver capsules and add additional information as relationships develop. Where we ultimately fail is when we lie about our presentations, cover up the addictive behavior, controling personality, or inability to deal fairly. somepeople are engaing liars and their elevator speeches are invitations to being gaslit.

Trust, but verify/

4 Replies to “Who?”

      1. Have you seen the movie, “Interstellar”? There is a conversation between one of the A.I.‘s T.A.R.S. and the main human character about how honest the A.I. should be as a “setting” and why.

  1. I don’t have an elevator speech. I frighten a lot of people, and stimulate very strong negative feelings in some but not everyone. My work life was very interesting as a result. I was an inspiring teacher and some of my colleagues mocked me by saying it took more than being a “rock star” but they were never in my classes.

    Nope — interpersonal relationships can be completely inscrutable. We never know what another person sees when they look at us. We can know that a large percentage of that is projection and expectation. People also look at others to see how they can “use” that person. In some of my current contacts, I’m happy to be “used” like painting something for the museum or doing a workshop or volunteering for an art council.

    At this point in my life I don’t think most interpersonal contact is between two people. It’s between one person and a fraction of the other person. The exceptions to that are friends.

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