Wednesday, June 6, 2007

All My Friends Are "Work Friends"

"Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say 'infinitely' when you mean 'very'; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite."
-- C. S. Lewis (1898 - 1963)

You're on my list, Lewis. I don't care if you're dead. I'll find you.

Cognitive Dissonance is that uncomfortable feeling you get when you try to hold two contradictory thoughts or beliefs in your head. I would imagine this is the type of thing that Church-going physicists are good at dealing with.

Have you ever visited a friend or relative at their place of work? It's like they're a completely different person. "This can't possibly be the same guy that was telling fart jokes at last night's poker game", you'll say to yourself, as you observe your drinking buddy, the one who wore the goat's head during Frosh Week, efficiently direct his team in the pursuit of Operational Excellence.

"I need those numbers on my desk by Thursday," he'll say.
"If we can't assess that risk, then we need to reexamine their value proposition," he'll say.
"If the delivery date slides, that revenue goes to next quarter. That's unacceptable," he'll say.

"Pull my finger," he'll say.

Psychologically, there is no immediately apparent way to reconcile these conflicting images of your friend/spouse/parent. In the heat of the moment, cognitive dissonance will force you to consider them as two separate people, one an efficient manager of operational "flow", the other a drunken practical joker / mother of two / yoga instructor / whatever. This is a postponement of analysis. Basically, your brain is saying "I can't process this right now, I'll deal with it later."

The scary thing is that other people think of you this way.

I have previously mentioned that buddy Ironman will be assuming responsibilities that could broadly be considered "boss-like" vis-a-vis myself. This scenario falls nicely into the category of psychological states that Cognitive Dissonance seems purpose-built to handle. This has even been unintentionally illustrated right here in this blog by my constant reference to him under two different names; Ironman and Boss Jr, a handy device that I think I'll continue to make use of.

Conclusion: I will continue to refer to him as Ironman when discussing him as a friend, and Boss Jr. when discussing him as a superior, and continue to think of him as two separate people.

Can you believe I've never undergone therapy of any kind?

Back in the day, during those brief periods of bachelorhood between long-term relationships, on those rare occasions when a woman would tell me I was cute, or (more rarely) "good-looking", I would usually offer one of two canned responses:

1) Well, my mother thinks so. (laughs all around, no one gets hurt).
2) Prove it.

HaikuBoxer, that paragon of wisdom and charm, has recently sent me zero-or-more flattering emails, responding to something or other I wrote herein. Neither of the above responses seems appropriate...

Next: Doggerel!

1 uninformed opinions:

Leila said...

"zero or more..."
ah now i miss you more than ever