Loose Cannon and Proud of It!
Weird title, huh? What it says is that a chosen behavior should not be confused with a state of being; i.e. I can choose to be lazy without describing myself as a lazy person. And more to the point, I should be able choose to be lazy without risking being called a lazy person by you. Here's an example – if I'm “taking a break,” and therefore am not responsive to your request for action, you may describe me as lazy. Is that because of what I really am, or is it a reflection of the fact that at this moment I'm not conducting myself as you would like me to? Or to put it another way, you may describe me as lazy when my relaxed behavior is interfering with your agenda for me. And the flip side is that if I were in high-energy mode, you might describe me as hyper if you felt like relaxing. So, it seems that often the word being used by the speaker says not much about the character or condition of the person about whom she's speaking, but speaks volumes about what the speaker wants from the other person at that moment. Below are a few more examples.
I'm wishy-washy when I choose not to make a decision or take an action in the time frame that suits you. If you think the decision or action requires the same amount of thought that I do, you might refer to me as circumspect.
If I do something that appears to put my own wants ahead of yours, I may be described as “selfish.” If you think I have been victimizing you by behaving as a martyr and I unexpectedly do something that promotes my happiness and releases you from guilt, you are glad to see that I've finally taken responsibility for my own well being.
3. Hard Ass
If I hold a firm position that is difficult for you to respond to, I'm tough. If I hold that same firm position and you agree with it, I'm decisive and strong.
If I'm talking after you've lost interest, I'm long-winded. If I'm talking for the same amount of time about something you are interested in, I'm spellbinding.
If I let someone do something that you disapprove of, I'm permissive. If I let someone do something that you approve of (although others may disapprove), I'm open-minded.
If I notice detail that you overlook or think is insignificant, you will say that I'm nit-picky. If you rely on me to work at the detail level, you praise me for my great attention to detail.
If you see me “give in” on an issue where your stake was damaged by my decision, you call me a pushover. If you see me “come around” on an issue where your stake was improved by my decision, you call me responsive.
If I am holding to a position which you do not agree with, you proclaim that I am stubborn. However, if I am steadfast in my beliefs or my actions, and those beliefs and/or actions are consistent with yours, you identify me as committed, persistent or principled.
9. Loose Cannon
In a meeting where most everyone is participating in primarily linear thinking, my “off the wall” idea may cause the group to refer to me as a loose cannon. On the other hand, in a situation where there has been a persistent problem and nothing we have tried has worked, I may be heralded for my “out of the box” thinking.
I do something unexpected and apparently without much deliberation which you disapprove of, and I am labeled impulsive. I do virtually the same thing, but instead you approve of it, and all of a sudden I am wonderfully spontaneous.
I “beat you to the punch” with an idea or contact that appears to advance my career at your expense; you'd probably be holding back in characterizing me as opportunistic. But if I employ the same strategy and you are my partner in experiencing the benefits, you might be more likely to say that you are fortunate to be aligned with someone who is politically astute.
If I am withholding some sensitive information that you are interested in getting, you may say that I am secretive. However, if you are the person whose sensitive information I am guarding, you will be glad that I am discrete.
If you're trying to heed the now popular advice to avoid taking things personally, it may help to keep in mind the possibility that when someone describes you in negative terms, it's often more a statement of what they want than of who you are.