“I thought I knew you. You’re not the person I thought you were.”
These are phrases that used to generate a sinking feeling in my heart. OMG, I am not the way they think I am! What have I done wrong? What can I do to fix it?
Many years ago, as I was riding in a car going to an office party, someone I grew up with, was estranged from for a long while and was now working with made a snarky comment about a colleague. The words sounded mean to me and so I replied telling them this isn’t nice to say. A day later she was in my office, uttering the “I thought I knew you … ” suite. Her logic was that, as we had grown up together for about 15 years, the 20 years in between should not have mattered, we should obviously be the absolute same people and that I should not have said anything as she is a closer friend. The logic of it all … anyway … .
The other day I had a telephone conversation that made me feel deeply uncomfortable. But not because I had done anything wrong but because of the “I expected more from you” that came from a person who had never spoken to me before, really spoken to me and who had no idea who I was because … she never cared to find out. Which is absolutely fine, until … you start expecting … .
This week Brene Brown reminded listeners of her Unlocking Us podcast of her Anatomy of Trust talk. Recounting a conversation with her then 12 year old daughter, Brene tells the audience about the fact that trust is built in small moments and not in grand gestures. When she asks her daughter about what makes her trust a person over another, the answer depicts something seemingly insignificant: the girl her daughter trusts knows her grandparents’ names and asks about them. This made me think of my “by the side of my brother’s coffin friends” – a category that sprung to my mind a decade ago when, in one of the saddest days of my life, the group around me was pretty small and, you guessed it, the two people quoted above were not to be found.
People always matter. But what people say and think only matters if they pass the reliability and accountability tests of trust – you are there, with me, in the rain, not pointing out from the comfort of a home, three days later, what I should or should not have done to not get so wet.