Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Chatty Cathy Speaks Her Piece

Posted by Anonymous.


I hated high school. Now, I have issues with women who say they like me, are friendly to my face... but really don’t enjoy being around me. (kind of like high school) They are too chicken to tell me. This pisses me off.

I’ll give you some background here. Then you’ll understand why this post is being aired in the basement. I sure as hell couldn’t post it on my blog. I do get controversial there occasionally, but, well, you know who reads my blog. My mom. My husband’s mom. Some of the women who are two-faced. Enough said about that. This could get long- it’s a complicated situation

I have a bit of what some would call, a personality problem. I can’t be quiet. I will talk to you in the grocery store. I will hand you a piece of clothing in your child’s size at the Value Village even when I just laid my eyes on you 2 minutes before. If I am waiting to pick my child up on the playground and I hear that you are car shopping, I’ll tell you all about the car I test-drove last weekend. I can’t help it. I love to talk. I love the sound of my own voice. I love to meet people and give them whatever information that I find to be currently fascinating. My son? Well,
he’s 5. He’ll talk your arm off as well. (runs in the family and that is another post)

I am a scrapbooker. A rabid one. I love to go to crops and sit my bum down and... talk. (sometimes I scrap) This whole thing started when I joined a cropping group in my town with people that I don’t know very well. The crop is sponsored by a woman who I really like. She’s funny, she is passionate about her kids, she runs a rockin’ business and she is very generous with her time and her money. Herein lies the problem. I come to scrapbook, and I talk. And talk, and talk, and talk. With people I know well, this is not a problem. They like me and will tell me if they want me to hush up. They will grin, and say “Hey, are you ever quiet? Enough already!” We laugh and move on, a bit more quietly. This woman? She is too polite to say anything. I was driving other people away and she still didn’t say anything. I, being so self-centered, didn’t figure out that I was the problem. Two weeks ago, I figured it out.

I felt mortified. I felt embarrassed. I was pissed off. I still am. Here’s how I figured it out. As a stay at home mom married to a workaholic, I have to find things to keep me sane. One of my sanity boosters is a message board for scrapbookers. I was reading along one day and came across a post by a scrapbooking consultant. She was complaining about a “toxic, chatty Cathy client”. She was relating that she has many fewer customers because this client had chased them away. She wanted to know what to do. Advice was given and she replied further down the thread, describing her “toxic customer“ in detail. I didn’t recognize the user name of this person posting. I kept reading. Further down the thread, she signed her name. Her real name. You guessed it, my crop hostess. I checked the date on the thread and realized that she had dropped me from her mailing list about that time. I then posted anonymously and asked consultants to please be honest with a client if they had a problem with her. Really, they owe it to themselves and that person to say something, nicely. I could have gone away months prior to this and saved her a whole bunch of angst and anxiety, to say nothing of less of a negative impact on her business. It really chaps my ass that she didn’t say anything to me.

So, what have I decided to do about this? First of all, I can’t be 100% sure that the client she had trouble with was me. I am too chicken to go and talk to her right now. That could change in the future. After my anonymous post, I changed my avatar to a picture of a Chatty Cathy doll. My tag-line now reads “Chatty Cathy in Recovery”. I hope she sees it and feels guilty. I really do. That is mean and petty and right now? I really don’t give a shit. I now have a learning experience on my hands. I went to a new crop at the invitation of another gal on the message board a few weeks ago. I got a lot done. I listened. I answered direct questions. I asked a few questions of the gals around me. I didn’t share any tools or supplies unless asked. I made a small purchase from the consultant and I left. I was invited to come back again the very next day. I enjoyed myself.

Part of me is really grateful that I now have knowledge and I can learn and grow and make changes to my behavior. Part of me is still really ticked off that she was nice to my face and trashed me behind my back. Part of me is disappointed because I have lost what I thought was a friend. The rest of me? I’m going on with my life and choosing to be happy. I’m choosing to continue meeting new people and enjoying them. My mama taught me to keep quiet if I didn’t have nice things to say. Evidently her mama taught her that as well. I wish she hadn’t learned her lesson so well.

But what should I do? Should I contact her or let things go?

16 comments:

Kate said...

Honestly, I'd let it go, only because if she's that unable to face a "problem" directly in the first place, then letting her know after the fact will only make it that much more uncomfortable a situation. It sounds like you've found alternative ways to get your scrapbooking fix, and while yes, I'm right there with you, it sucks to lose someone you thought was a friend, I also feel like you can't force it. Give yourself some time to heal and feel better, and then maybe you'll be ready to go back and follow her lead and see how she reacts when you return.

And, congratulations on reacting like an adult. Sure, a SAINT might not wish the woman guilt, but who wants to be perfect? What a burden that would be. You're reacting in a way that is both adult and human, and I applaud that. Good for you.

I'm a bit on the opposite end of the spectrum from you, I almost never initiate conversations with strangers, but I'm always happy to chat back...

Lisa b said...

I was just going to say the same thing as kate.
It seems like the woman really just didn't feel comfortable discussing this with you directly.
I would think about what you want to accomplish by speaking to her. If you decide that it is worthwhile give yourself time to cool off and then approach her.
It is unfortunate that the issue had to be addressed in this manner.

toyfoto said...

I think you should let it go, as well. But I have to tell you -- as a bit of a non-chatty yet still opinionated person -- I SO enjoy the company of YOUR kind.

You seem somewhat fearless.

I love the way you perceive this whole situation and the candor that you expect from people. I think that type of viewpoint is sorely lacking from "polite" society.

Bravo.

Her Bad Mother said...

What Toyfoto said - you're fantastically open and fresh and engaging and if that put some people off, well, it says waaaay more about them than it does about you.

Their loss.

Liam's Mom - Gina said...

It sounds like you both lost out, which is sad. BUT... Give yourself a pat on the back for walking away and finding a similar place to do your crops. I wouldn't drop the idea of approaching her later. You may still want to go back in a week to discuss it with her, or you may just find that life is okay without letting her know your bit of wisdom. Either way, it's up to how you feel and what your gut says to do with time. I, myself, would be thinking about it for weeks and just might confront her. ;)

Awesome Mom said...

Kudos to you for taking the high ground!! I am not sure why people were so put off by your talking. My friends specifically invite more chatty people so that those (like me) that just want to site and listen have something to listen too when scrapping. I find it much more fun to have some chatter going on and be relieved of the burden of talking since I am not a chatty person.

Anonymous said...

Perspective of an introvert: I've inadvertently hurt people's feelings before through my unwillingness to engage with them. I do think this person's commenting about you elsewhere was way out of line--but I have some sympathy with people who just don't know how to get out of a relationship that isn't working for them. On my part, it's almost never about the individual person, but I get claustrophobic a lot--I just know too many people and have too much contact.
I obviously do want to connect with people somehow (here I am, posting on a blog!), but I find it really difficult to be face to face all the time. I have dropped several friends for being too chatty and wanting too frequent contact, and I have to admit I didn't tell them why--I just slowly decreased our visits and took longer and longer to call them back. The thing is, I didn't want to give them the option to try to argue with me or persuade me. I liked them a lot, I just couldn't fill their needs. And since I was trying to avoid conversations, I didn't really want to have more conversations about why.
I appreciate all these perspectives. I would never trash my former friends (nothing to trash, after all--they didn't do anything wrong) but I was interested to read you writing that you would rather have been told. I'll try to be more straightforward if this happens to me again.

Heather said...

My parents I guess are totally different. My parents taught me that if I didn't have anything nice to say for no good reason then don't say anything....but if I needed to address and problem, or a situation that I thought needed to be handled with words that the other person may be hurt by (because, reality just bites that way sometimes)...well, tough shit...SAY WHAT YOU FEEL YOU NEED TO SAY! I've lived my life that way, and so far so good. I often never have regrets (that's not to say I haven't made an ass of myself once in a while, but hell, you have to learn your lessons sometimes, this is how I choose to learn mine).

I appreciate when someone has enough guts to address when they have a problem with me...in fact, I usually like them even more.
In all honesty, if I was in your group and your talking was annoying the hell out of me, I'd tell you so. Even if I didn't know you. I wouldn't be rude about it, but you would know. On the reverse of the spectrum, if this was my organized craft group, and I was in charge and someone approached me with a complaint, I would see it my RESPONSIBILITY to address the issue with you (as I think it was hers).
Yes, you may not know if this person that made these comments was indeed the woman in charge of your group. Unlike the rest of your commenters here I'm not the type of person to let this kind of thing drop. You don't have to be mean, or aggressive...simply assertive about this situation. Ask her if it was her, ask her that even if it wasn't her, does she feel this way.

WHY?

1. Because I have disagreements with my friends all the time. If I didn't tell them, or they didn't tell me, when they were pissing me off or vice versa, then we wouldn't be friends. You considered this woman a friend didn't you. If you care about your friendship with her, perhaps you need to discuss your personality difference and become more accepting of one another.

2. Because you enjoied that craft group, clearly, and it seemed from your post, that some of the people there also enjoied your company...now you are just going to leave? Imagine what that leaves them thinking. Imagine the situations that creates when you run into another scrap booker on the street. Just akward.

3. Because you seem the type of person to me that would let this piss you off for a while. Because even if things ended shitty, you would still feel better having talked about it.

4. Because not saying anything seems to me to scream that finally someone got the best of you. You love to talk...SO WHAT! Are you going to walk away defeated? Feeling that no one likes a talker. Are you going to really let this impact your personality so much that you talk less...it seems to me that you are sort of headed in that direction (showing up to new group a quiter version of you). What if you showed up at this new scrap book as Chatty Cathy and they loved you? There are places for lovely people like you. There are tonnes of them. Don't let one group of women try and shut you up.

I SAY SPEAK UP!!!

As long winded as that was, it's my opinion for what it's worth. I'd love to craft with you sometime!

Anonymous said...

I think you're being mature about the situation--to recognize there was a problem and self-solving it.

I spend all day around people. People who talk. I like quiet. But I don't think I would be able to tell someone that their talking was bothering me--I was raised to be polite and not make waves.

If I was in the group you talked about, I would not have the courage to speak to you. I would drop out, and probably tell the moderator why... I wouldn't consider it talking behind your back, I would consider it my decision based on my comfort level.

I think people who are talkative are fine, but there are times when I don't want to hear voices...

Heather said...

Dear Anonymous 4:17, being assertive rather than passive is not making waves, nor is it rude. Problems don't get solved through silence. I take offense to your comment.

Anonymous said...

I personally think the woman was not wrong. People who suck the life out of an event are toxic. I know this will not be taken well here but oh well! When I read this post I was shocked at your self-awareness to openly admit you are selfish. But what do people around you gain from listening to you go on and on? Some people just want to enjoy time with people doing like-minded things without having to hear someone talk for talking's sake. And I disagree that you handled it like an adult. You revert to passive-aggressive tactics like changing an avatar? How about apologizing to this woman who's lost money because of you, not to mention friends who've left her crops because they couldn't be around YOU anymore! But, you already admitted you were selfish. So your concern with your own feelings rather than hers are not surprising. It leaves me to wonder whether you really did learn anything?

Anonymous said...

Conversation dominators can be really trying for other people who are just trying to have a nice time. In my experience, conversation dominators are also not usually open to constructive criticism. They are bullies, in a sense, and used to saying whatever they want whenever they want without consequence. It sounds from this account that you HAVE learned something--maybe next time you can try listening a little more, but I would definitely let the whole thing go. It doesn't sound like the other woman has any interest in maintaining a friendship with you.

Anonymous said...

heather,
in response to my comment at 4:17, why are you offended? If i want to be passive, that's my problem and/or my decision. What if I said I'm offended by your aggressiveness? (which I'm not) Who are you to offer me your opinion if I don't want it?

I'm plenty aggressive in many parts of life, but if I am doing a pleasant activity, I do not want to have to be aggressive. I want to relax, and confrontation is not relaxing.

Anonymous said...

This is the entry poster here. Thanks for your opinions, both positive and negative. I think it would be good for me to send this person a note of apology. Good idea!

Anonymous said...

I'd like to preface this by saying that as a business owner, I have a couple of insights on the issue at hand. Clearly, you are a valuable customer likely to buy a lot of product. (I love that!) But, my neighboring shop owner and I frequently discuss how having a dominant personality in your shop can make or break other sales. Unfortunately, businesses don't exist as a play time for clients. The name of the game is profitability. There are clients who sound a bit like you, quite frankly, who drive me nuts. They don't ever shut up, and are not keen enough to notice when others really don't want their opinions or insights at all. If those other clients have what they perceive to be an annoying experience in my shop, they might not come back. AND, if you cost me a sale because of your annoying, overbearing ways, then I will be furious.

You seem to know that you have a problem. Maybe instead of just saying "it runs in the family" or some such comment, you should focus on what makes you run your mouth nonstop. People who talk incessantly are wasting a tremendous amount of personal energy and power. Perhaps taking some time to choose your words more carefully would be a start. Ask yourself: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

Most likely, people like you a lot. They just need you to keep your monologue internal.

Jodi said...

oh wow. I could very much relate to your post. I could have written your post. I don't know what to say to you. Except I understand. And here's to always working on ourselves and to becoming more self aware.