One time I was at a wedding taking photos of guests seated at tables. It’s a nice part of the day because by this time people have had food + drinks, so they tend to be more relaxed and playful. 🙂
If two or three people looked like they came together, I asked to take a photo of the group. If I wasn’t sure who was together, I would ask. Sometimes I also take photos of people together who just met. The bride and groom loves to see all the people in their lives together!
I came around to a lady who was next. There was an empty seat next to her. The napkin was thrown on the chair like someone had just stepped out to use the restroom. I asked if she knew the person who stepped out.
She rolled her eyeballs, shook her head, and refused to make eye contact with me.
Confused, I asked if I should come back to get a picture. She didn’t respond.
Later that evening, her friend came up to me angry and said, “You need to apologize to that lady. She’s crying in the hallway.” Huh? I was completely confused. She said, “Not everyone comes to weddings with someone else, and you should know that.”
The fact that they demanded an apology made me livid and defensive. No shit, I know not everyone comes to weddings with someone else. I was working and wanted to make sure I included everyone in the best way possible. All I did was ask her a simple question – the same question I’ve asked guests thousands of times, never having this response.
People are usually happy to get their photo taken, like this dude at this wedding who looked like Prince Harry.
My initial thought at the lady? It is completely acceptable to have feelings and react in the moment, but you can’t go blaming other people for how you feel. It bothers me when people push their problems onto others. These are the people who aren’t content with anything in life because, “It’s THIS person’s fault, and THAT person’s fault that my life is the way it is!.”
I can lack empathy and it’s something I constantly work on. Who knows why that woman got upset? I went to apologize. “Sorry I asked about the person who stepped away, I didn’t want to leave them out if it was your friend.” She remained mad and said it was all my fault, and to watch what I say.
I thought about the possible ways I could have done things differently and came to the conclusion that unless I was PSYCHIC, I would have failed regardless of what I did or said. She would have gotten upset if I asked to take any sort of photo of her sitting there.
Like she was triggered, so was I. It’s not her fault. I know exactly why I’m sensitive when people blame others (I’ll save that for a different blog post, or a session with my therapist). I went back into the reception to do my job.
My main takeaway? Making “being right” more important than how someone feels damages personal relationships, and I’m thankful for the constant lessons I have with it. My instinct is still to bash the lady for being emotionally unintelligent and argue all the ways she was wrong in this scenario, but that’s not the point. Learn to be wrong, even when I’m right. My partner Pete is amazing at this. His priority is how I feel and I am SO thankful that he cares more about that than proving his point. Even if I’m clearly in the wrong, he is the first to step back and say, “I’m sorry. I don’t want you feeling upset.” He doesn’t do it to shut me up or because he has learned that skill in a personal growth seminar – he does it because he actually cares. It’s something I really admire about him. He teaches me to be a better partner every day.
Also, I’m not going to ever fully understand some people and that’s ok. I will continue living my life the way I like – taking responsibility for myself, and building a skill I lack – empathy.