What House of Cards is teaching me about direct communication
So, late last year I finally started watching House of Cards. Yes, I know I'm 3 years behind, but I do get to things eventually.
This show, in all it's seasons I've watched so far but particularly because of the strong structure in Season 1 (Taken from the book and UK Miniseries) is so well written and performed, it's a joy to watch..(as much as a joy as it can be to see bad people do bad things)
The writing is so clear and precise, it lays the ground work for Fincher to do his thing, with stunning performances from it's actors, including Academy award winner Kevin Spacey. It's one of those projects where everything comes together and fits perfectly so that it appears magical.
But what I'm really enjoying about it is that, fictional or non fictional, I love watching people have Direct Communication with each other- there's so much assertiveness, it's a drool worthy fest of self worth.
Look, again I know it's the writing- but have a look at my blog. It's taken me 4.5 paragraphs to say I like House of Cards and now you might understand why I love watching it- it gives me the satisfaction of people saying what they mean and meaning what they say directly without caring what the other person thinks (even if they're lying).
In life, it's often hard to just say what you actually think ..(sometime impossible) and to keep the power in a conversation (or how not to say everything you're thinking, or that what you're thinking comes out as a perfect succinct sentence which says no more or less than required). This is a skill...and not an easy one.
Anyone who knows me, knows I like to talk. And I can talk a lot. I don't know where, but I learnt along the lines somewhere that speaking a lot saved me- maybe in high pressure situations, or "filling the space" but as we know, when we get older, filling the space is not always great, nor always useful. If anything, filling the space can lead to losing power, losing faith in yourself and losing the ability to articulate yourself properly. It's not all bad- it can keep things flowing, it means I usually give in to train of thought and don't pre judge myself much and... it's certainly saved me in many situations. It means I can chat to people, ask questions and elaborate if I need to. I've always enjoyed it. But if you can say what you want in less words, then the better for you-- it's easier and clearer for the other person to take your thoughts in and it means you don't dilute your message. It's easier for you and whoever's listening.
As I said before it's also about power- and in House of Cards, because it's all about power- the nature of the White House, high status positions and the press, people don't have time to waffle- they have business to do and they need to get their message across straight. I guess what I'm saying is, I haven't had a tendency to do that- sometimes I regret I haven't said things earlier or more clearly from the beginning than I should have. Actually- I am a pleaser. Now that...that isn't easy to say, but that's where it comes from. To please.
When you're assertive and state your needs- you're actually doing the opposite of being needy. You're putting yourself first, so it actually gives the other person a boundary to work off. You're not being needy- no need to see what they want first, no need to impress and no need to please.
I guess where I have come from is that I have personally thought this was "being rude" , so instead I've played nice to make sure, I'm most certainly not a rude person. But you can do it with a smile (or not but again, you know what I mean), you can do it easily with no fuss and well, isn't it more rude if you're not being straight up with someone from the start? Pick your moments, of course, but I think you get what I mean.
I must say I don't think I'm like this all the time- and I think, just like in Acting, as our characters are not the same people in different situations, neither are we. As actors we can't predict what our character would or would not do- because people do not. Given circumstances are everything and when push comes to shove, I think people are capable of doing anything. We are different at work, with friends, lovers and family. One could say the closer we are, perhaps the more assertive we are, the more honest, but again, that would be a generalisation.
So, what would I like to take from this? I would like to practice some House of Cards assertive at times- it's not being rude, it's about being forward with your thoughts in an economic and actually trustworthy way. I want to be honest and approachable by people, so I think being assertive is actually a big part of that. And like any skill, that takes learning. I will just make sure I don't turn into Frank Underwood.....