Friday, July 25, 2008

People Management Skills

I generally don't have the best listening skills vis-a-vis men. I usually talk pretty much exclusively about myself. Sometimes out of boredom with any other topic if I have a spectacular lack of interest in the man, sometimes out of excitement to share everything I've been saving up specifically for him if I adore the man and don't see him very often (Gorgeous Hunk O'Man (JF), for example), and sometimes, almost deliberately, because I'm curious to see how my seeming (although sometimes very real) aggressive self-centeredness will be handled, if I don't really know the man.

I had a conversation with MomVee over lunch many moons ago when she was in NYC for the day. I shared my belief that personal, romantic relationships can be managed EXACTLY like professional relationships. I had all sorts of examples worked out and presented them proudly. MomVee, to her credit, did not mock me mercilessly, but very graciously re-introduced me to reality. Because after all, in a healthy romantic partnership, the fundamental and fixed hierarchy of manager and direct report should not exist. Who wants to be "handled" (as distinct from "manhandled") or "managed" by their romantic partner?

So back on speaking terms with reality (at least on this particular topic), I changed my mind entirely.

But of late, I have spent some time thinking about relationships, in particular, romantic/sexual ones. The trigger is obvious. I had a phone conversation last week with Chloe, one of the many matchmaking directors at It's Just Lunch - that matchmaking service I've already posted about. I believe AM will go for her first in-person consult next week. I've decided to postpone mine until later in August, perhaps even September, since currently I barely have time to pee during the days, my evenings are too booked with work, and my free-time is entirely too rare and valuable to be used on random men who will, I have no doubt, arouse in me only disgust or profound boredom. (Clearly, I'd rather blog about dating than actually do it). But during our phone conversation, Chloe asked me the expected question, "what kind of man are you looking for?"


I knew that my usual answer of "Clive Owen, David Boreanaz, Johnny Depp, James McAvoy, or Viggo Mortensen, and preferably only after they've just finished shooting something that required them to work-out for hours a day" would not be helpful. After all, I was talking to Chloe, not The Universe. And the "I'll know it when I see it" attitude defeats the entire point of outsourcing.

I was at a loss, and actually speechless. Because while I have an enormously well developed repertoire of flippant responses suitable across a number of topics and venues, I hadn't thought through my real answer to this question.

And who is this "Chloe" anyway? Her phone manner is perky-professional (I suspect she used to work in publishing) and that's all I know about her. Would she understand what I mean when I say "smart"? For that matter, do I? Because a list of "required" or "hoped for" attributes never consists of independent pieces of data. It's the combination that's important, and the acceptable tradeoffs. What they should do, instead of the asking if a particular trait is important to you, and then asking HOW important it is to you, is to offer up a survey that lends itself to forced tradeoff, conjoint analysis.

I think I will suggest that to her. I'm sure that will go over well.

But I digress.

Because I think I DO want to be "managed." Not according to the employer/employee dynamic. But in the "I'll call you on your bullshit in this case", "I'll challenge you on your sloppy thinking here", "I'll back off and just be nice right now", "This is the time to just agree with you and say that you absolutely right and beautiful and perfect" kind of way.

Maybe "managed" isn't the right word.

I'm talking about the mutually appreciated, and adroitly delivered combination of challenge and comfort.

But I don't think that will help Chloe at all. So I guess I'll just tell her, "not fat, please."

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