I, Robot (But Let’s Talk Anyway)

 

I’ve been called a robot before.

More than once, actually.

By girls. Girls I’ve dated.

I’m not too surprised by this honestly. I know that I’ve got a firm grasp on my emotions – outwardly at least – and that’s what people usually respond to. When there’s something crazy going on around you, do you panic or calmly say ‘There’s a fire in the ceiling’?

I know that I do the latter. In high school, during class, I walked to the far side of the room to pick up some notes I had left there earlier. As I was walking back I saw a fire burning through a hole in the ceiling created by a missing tile.

I looked up, looked at the other students and teacher, and calmly said ‘There’s a fire in the ceiling.’

Everyone looked at me like I was making a joke that they didn’t get.

I said ‘No seriously guys, there’s a fire in the ceiling.’ I pointed. They looked…eventually. My voice was so unsurprised, so perfectly calm, that no one’s internal alarms went off. Nobody snapped into action because the cue to do so – an audible sign of alarm – wasn’t there. It was purely intellectual and that kept their reflexes from kicking in.

So obviously there is a time and a place for having that level of control over your emotional responses. I personally value the fact that I can keep a cool head even in the most panic-inducing circumstances, but that doesn’t mean that staying that cool all the time is a good idea.

Here’s a good rule of thumb, one that I’m trying hard to abide by: if the situation requires empathy in order to get the best possible solution, let go of the reins a bit and let yourself get a little worked up. In the case of the fire, there wasn’t a whole lot I could do except convey a solid warning, and to do so I needed to express the concern I felt more effectively.

Similarly, if a significant other is upset and really just wants you to understand why they’re so upset, it’s probably a good idea to loosen the grip and make sure they understand that, no, you don’t think they are crazy, and yes, whatever is upsetting them is a legitimate concern.

Work hard to get that control if you don’t have it, however, because in other circumstances (if you’re being mugged, for instance), it’ll be a great asset and may actually keep you alive.

16 comments

  1. “I personally value the fact that I can keep a cool head even in the most panic-inducing circumstances, but that doesn’t mean that staying that cool all the time is a good idea.”

    Spot on. I’ve often prided myself in the ability to maintain a level head in difficult situations. Replacing the emotional with the pragmatic. Acting rationally and confidently.

    That being said, you’re right that there’s a time and place for letting one’s emotions take the front seat. Some situations justify a more emotional reaction that others–sometimes, the emotions-driven action is simply more appropriate.

    Nice post!

  2. “I personally value the fact that I can keep a cool head even in the most panic-inducing circumstances, but that doesn’t mean that staying that cool all the time is a good idea.”

    Spot on. I’ve often prided myself in the ability to maintain a level head in difficult situations. Replacing the emotional with the pragmatic. Acting rationally and confidently.

    That being said, you’re right that there’s a time and place for letting one’s emotions take the front seat. Some situations justify a more emotional reaction that others–sometimes, the emotions-driven action is simply more appropriate.

    Nice post!

  3. Well, I certainly ride the other end of the spectrum here, but being around so many other cool headed people has taught me a lot about the importance of stepping back from my initial perspective and the time and place to respond less personally. Not that feeling the emotions is wrong. I still think feeling deeply is an incredibly valuable asset, but not reacting personally.

    Understanding the way that other people think, feel, and react and being able to meet them on their level is something I’ve noticed you’ve improved on quite a bit, and it takes some of the fear out of being honest for the other person, it opens up an opportunity for greater trust, in personal and business relationships.

  4. Well, I certainly ride the other end of the spectrum here, but being around so many other cool headed people has taught me a lot about the importance of stepping back from my initial perspective and the time and place to respond less personally. Not that feeling the emotions is wrong. I still think feeling deeply is an incredibly valuable asset, but not reacting personally.

    Understanding the way that other people think, feel, and react and being able to meet them on their level is something I’ve noticed you’ve improved on quite a bit, and it takes some of the fear out of being honest for the other person, it opens up an opportunity for greater trust, in personal and business relationships.

  5. Haha, I knew what you were talking about fromt he first sentence.

    I get this all the time. I even know a guy who says he watches what I do because, due to my “emotionless and uncaring” state, I’m going to most likely be a serial killer.

    He told me to watch Dexter on HBO. I did for a short bit, and Dexter’s dad told him the same thing, fake your emotions when you have to, when the situations calls for it, and when ‘normality’ calls for it.

  6. Haha, I knew what you were talking about fromt he first sentence.

    I get this all the time. I even know a guy who says he watches what I do because, due to my “emotionless and uncaring” state, I’m going to most likely be a serial killer.

    He told me to watch Dexter on HBO. I did for a short bit, and Dexter’s dad told him the same thing, fake your emotions when you have to, when the situations calls for it, and when ‘normality’ calls for it.

  7. “I’ve been called a robot before.
    More than once, actually.
    By girls. Girls I’ve dated.”

    What a great opening. I also have commonly been called a robot as well and I’ve always thought it to be a mostly good thing also. Being in control of your emotions and mind and body as fully as possible is surprisingly uncommon it seems.

  8. “I’ve been called a robot before.
    More than once, actually.
    By girls. Girls I’ve dated.”

    What a great opening. I also have commonly been called a robot as well and I’ve always thought it to be a mostly good thing also. Being in control of your emotions and mind and body as fully as possible is surprisingly uncommon it seems.

  9. Lol, guys like you drive me crazy! I am the COMPLETE opposite… though I wish I wasn’t :( I get worked up over things a lot… and I call people robots all the time when they aren’t as emo… guess it is good to see things from the ‘robots’ side :) Loved this!

  10. Lol, guys like you drive me crazy! I am the COMPLETE opposite… though I wish I wasn’t :( I get worked up over things a lot… and I call people robots all the time when they aren’t as emo… guess it is good to see things from the ‘robots’ side :) Loved this!

  11. This is awesome. I’ve had a lot of experiences like that, though none included something as serious as a fire! I find that people actually get mad sometimes because I don’t get all mad and excited with them and tell them that they are right. It’s a good point that you make about loosening the grip a little in those situations.

  12. This is awesome. I’ve had a lot of experiences like that, though none included something as serious as a fire! I find that people actually get mad sometimes because I don’t get all mad and excited with them and tell them that they are right. It’s a good point that you make about loosening the grip a little in those situations.

  13. @Alan: Yeah, it’s a real mixed bag. Just a matter of learning which approach works in which situation.

    @Rob: Ah, technology…making robots a little more human every day.

    @andi: I like to think we both moved a bit closer to the middle while dating, and especially while living together. Go us!

    @Arsene: Ha! I actually love that show. I’m not sure faking emotion is the best way to go, but definitely letting go of that control a bit.

    @Andrew: Thanks buddy! And yeah, it is a bit uncommon, I think, at least I guess so by the responses I get sometimes!

    @Maren: Ah, there was a time when I was much more outwardly expressive about emotions, but that was when I was an art student, not a designer student. I think I felt I needed to be that way to inspiration before, but once I changed my methods a bit, I realized I didn’t, and could actually get more done and more inspiration form a given situation by not letting little things get me down so much.

    @Nate: Yeah, people get upset when you don’t fall into pace with them. I think it’s something like being the one sober person in a room full of drunks…it doesn’t fly.

  14. @Alan: Yeah, it’s a real mixed bag. Just a matter of learning which approach works in which situation.

    @Rob: Ah, technology…making robots a little more human every day.

    @andi: I like to think we both moved a bit closer to the middle while dating, and especially while living together. Go us!

    @Arsene: Ha! I actually love that show. I’m not sure faking emotion is the best way to go, but definitely letting go of that control a bit.

    @Andrew: Thanks buddy! And yeah, it is a bit uncommon, I think, at least I guess so by the responses I get sometimes!

    @Maren: Ah, there was a time when I was much more outwardly expressive about emotions, but that was when I was an art student, not a designer student. I think I felt I needed to be that way to inspiration before, but once I changed my methods a bit, I realized I didn’t, and could actually get more done and more inspiration form a given situation by not letting little things get me down so much.

    @Nate: Yeah, people get upset when you don’t fall into pace with them. I think it’s something like being the one sober person in a room full of drunks…it doesn’t fly.

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