One time, while camping in the Bighorn Mountains with friends, we sat in a tent playing games as we settled in for the night. The card game caused a lot of laughter.
But as the night progressed, one of my fellow campers was crying, one was laughing and one was somewhere between.
I felt overwhelmed. Processing all those emotions seemed impossible at that moment. So I pulled the hood of my sweatshirt up over my head and pulled the drawstrings tight. All you could see was my mouth and nose. And as my friends asked me what was wrong, all I could say was, “There are too many feelings in here.” Oh boy… the volume and depth of the raucous atmosphere only became amplified.
That story just about sums up how I handle other people’s emotions. It’s a weakness of mine. I’m not good at it.
I can recognize when someone is acting out of sorts, but not always why. People crying makes me super uncomfortable. I never know what to say or how to act. I find myself trying to make jokes so the crying stops. Let me tell you, there are definitely situations in which jokes are not appropriate, no matter how funny they are.
As a manager, not being good at reading and understanding emotions can be rough. It’s not that I don’t care about how others process certain situations; it is literally that it takes me longer to understand when somebody responds emotionally rather than lineally.
I love the Myers-Briggs personality indicators. I’ve read a lot about them, and if I know your type, I can probably get along with you. One section of Myers-Briggs describes how you make decisions. To be clear, one way is not better or worse than another. And just because you tend to lean one way doesn’t mean you never use the other.
Myers-Briggs breaks decision-making down into thinking and feeling. I’m a thinker. As the Myers-Briggs website states, “I like to analyze pros and cons, and then be consistent and logical in deciding. I try to be impersonal, so I won’t let my personal wishes — or other people’s wishes — influence me.” Feelers, on the other hand, weigh what people care about and the points-of-view of persons involved in a situation.
As I reflect on the tragedy at The Capital newsroom in Maryland, I cannot help but wonder how I would react. While I’m sure thinking would occur, so would tears as I witnessed and absorbed the reactions of others and the impact on our newsroom family. I’m so proud to be a journalist and I’m immeasurably proud of the work the staff here at The Press does every day.
I’m impressed and proud that despite the tragedy, the staff at The Capital published a paper Friday. They honored those lost and the community they serve in doing so — even through the tears, devastation, anger and all.