Sit. No, Stay!July 28, 2006
I'm using dog training techniques on people. Okay, on one person. In dog training, or at least the kind I'm using with good success so far on Clara, when the dog does something you don't want her to do, you ignore her. You remove attention. Then you praise her when she does what you want.
There's a person in my life (I won't mention in which arena I know her -- I know she doesn't know that I blog, but someone who knows her might, so I won't specify further) that drives me up a flipping wall. Up the wall to the point that my stomach turns into little knots of irritation. She talks. And talks. And talks. And talks.
Without point. Ad nauseum. About nothing.
And then she talks some more. And she talks mean.
I'm a nice gal. I like to respond politely to everyone who speaks to me. It's one of the obligations in life, I think. As a good human, you honor the voices of others.
However. There's a line, people.
This gal talks nothing but crap, too, did I mention that? She criticizes EVERYONE, but she does it in that dreadful passive-aggressive way, "Did you notice that Jane Doe has gained weight? Boy, I wonder what her husband thinks about that. Have you noticed? I wonder how much she's gained. What do you think? How much do you guess she's gained?"
Then she'll repeat the exact same sentiment, same phrasing, an hour later. And the next day. I'm not exaggerating here.
Or she says the same thing, over and over, even if you pretend not to hear the first time. "I have to get gasoline today." Nothing. "I can't believe I have to get gas already." I nod. "It's just so expensive. I thought I just fueled up the other day. I hate getting gas. Don't you?"
I guess I can't convey how irritating it is. It sounds pretty innocuous, written like that. It's the WAY she says things that grates on me. It's the way she keeps talking, even when I am obviously busy doing something else, even when I snap at her, which I occasionally do to my everlasting regret. I snap, she backs off, and then she's back to talking.
So, while in my Buddhist-in-law mind I try to think of her as my excellent teacher, as someone just trying to achieve happiness and avoid suffering, I'm also trying some dog training on her.
When I'm doing something and don't want to be interrupted, and she talks about something completely trivial, or worse, mean-spirited, I ignore her. I may be quite close to her, and I don't turn around. I can obviously hear her. And I just ignore her. Completely.
Then, when I'm not busy, I initiate polite, friendly conversation. She doesn't seem to notice or mind my new method (I would, if someone were totally ignoring me), and she's talking to me less when I'm obviously busy. It's truly kind of amazing. I like her way better now.
PS - Bolinas tomorrow night! Come see the Whoreshoes in the best possible venue.