I had a six-hour training today at work, on a topic about which I have strong opinions. Strong opinions that are at odds with what the trainer was talking about. Which means I spent six hours alternately participating in and cursing myself for participating in discussions where I started most sentences with "But.."
And now I'm retroactively feeling like a bitchy ol' fusspot.
I hate it that I went into the training without an open mind (with a closed mind?), and I really did try to pry it open throughout the day. Because it felt awful to sit there and be frustrated and mute, except for the temporary reprieves of being frustrated and vocal (there were a lot of discussions and group brainstorming sessions; it's not like I was derailing the presentation) (not that that wouldn't have been pleasant at some point) (but come on, I wouldn't do that).
I was by no means the only person with these opinions, and I don't think I was even the most vocal. Which makes me feel a little better, except that then I think of poor Joe Presenter Guy (strangely enough, that's his real name) trying to preach his gospel to a room full of heathens. Opinionated, vocal heathens. Who knows, maybe he's the kind of guy who went home and said, "My, but what a lively discussion we had today!" I tend to project, however, and worry that he went home to his wife and kids all sad and Bob Cratchitt-y, with only a few sou in his fingerless-gloved hand, shoulders bent under the weight of our criticism, explaining that the Christmas turkey will be small this year...
Huh. Got a wee bit dramatic there. Ahem.
But I do feel badly when I'm watching a presenter do poorly--in this case, not because he wasn't a fine presenter (after all, "Presenter" is his middle name), but because he wasn't teaching to a receptive audience. Which isn't his fault. I tried to make that clear on the evaluation form: "Yes, the presenter was well-organized, friendly, open to questions...I just happen to think he's full of bool-sheet."
Which isn't exactly true (the bool-sheet part, not that I didn't write that on the evaluation form. I totally did.) (come on, how mean do you think I am?) (only somewhat). His ideas were fine, lovely...one might even say ideal. But in the real world, with budget cuts and more a-coming, when we're already having to make more with less, hearing about the ideal anything is a sure-fire way to engender resistance and resentment from the troops.
And I did really take a minute to think each time I added something to the discussion. I tried to verbally and vocally own which things were my emotional reaction (he was describing a model of service that would drastically change my job) and which were realistic, logical challenges. I was polite, I made jokes, and I tried to make notes of where we agreed. And I spent most of the day swallowing my tongue, choosing instead to write snarky notes to the woman next to me (the act of which a co-worker called "pre-texting"). But I was telling MOTH about it tonight, and all I can think about is that I was too negative and that I knew I didn't have an open mind and that I should have just let this roll off me, mentally checked out. Because--say it with me now--what if someone (gasp) disagreed with me? What if they think I'm wrong? AND NOW THEY WON'T LIKE ME--WAAAH!
On the other hand, I know (because they told me) that there are people who agreed with me who don't feel comfortable talking in front of a large group of people. And maybe I was their voice.
Yargh. I wish I could be bold and unapologetic. Or meek and uninvolved. This combination of in-the-moment-mouthy and later-anxious is for the birds.