Admittedly, I’m a very passionate person. I’m passionate about my content producing and social media management expertise, and I’m passionate about my writing goals as an aspiring author. In my professional and personal life, I’ve learned that passion requires management. Sometimes excessive passion can run a situation over the cliff before you have time to—oh shit—stop it.
People often use the word passion quite liberally, but have you ever actually looked up the definition?
According to Google:
Passion (noun): strong and barely controllable emotion.
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
Passion (noun): a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.
Both definitions are pretty much correct. However, people can get into passionate debates about politics, religion, COVID vaccines, and yes, if you’re a writer, passionately defending your writing/story/manuscript when criticisms arise.
This is just my opinion, but I find people who are more self-aware have a higher level of emotional intelligence, empathy, and situational awareness. Those that have more self-awareness are more in control of their emotions. It doesn’t mean that they’re nihilists that believe in nothing, that they think life is meaningless, reject any moral principles, believe in no moral code, and walk around life like a bump-on-the-log with no goals. It doesn’t mean that they’re not passionate about their hobbies, interests, and goals. Self-awareness means learning to have diplomatic passion.
What Is Diplomatic Passion?
Passion is energy. You can direct it for good or bad. After all, there are such things as “crimes of passion.” In the heat of the moment, people can snap. Diplomatic passion means using your passion wisely. It means upgrading your communication skills from hurling insults to professional, left-brained, lawyer-esque responses. Pick a subject that you’re very passionate about and think of a time you raised your voice. Fuck-you’s started flying out of your mouth, and the end result was more than hurt feelings but damaged relationships.
I’ve worked with very ultra-passionate beta readers where any little critique sets them off. They will argue and argue and argue some more about why certain things should be a certain way in their novel. You can’t make a single criticism without them getting very defensive. This type of writer is passionate. But such passion would be better served if self-awareness was exercised. When you have self-awareness, you’re able to control your passionate flares. You’re aware when you’re raising your voice. You’re aware of your tone. You’re aware of how you’re coming at someone.
Lack Of Self-Awareness Scenarios
Here are three examples of lack of self-awareness scenarios where passion drove people to miscommunicate.
Scenario 1.) The Ultra Defensive Beta Reader: I once exchanged work with someone whose manuscript was 160k words long and considered “literary,” according to him. But in my opinion, it wasn’t literary. To begin with, I take issue with writers who call themselves literary. That’s a subject I’m passionate about but am going to refrain from going on that tangent.
While I’ve read writers with longer word counts, as the reader, you must convince me that every single word is necessary. Not only did I find the 160k manuscript entirely too long, but there were about 8 time jumps in the first chapter alone and numerous time jumps throughout the manuscript. It was disorienting and I wasn’t able to continue reading the entire thing. Not to mention, there were lots of characters and extremely lengthy backstory. Example: Following a character from the time they were an infant. As the reader, I didn’t care to know characters from birth. My general opinion was that there needed to be fewer time jumps, a lot of the backstory could be cut, and the manuscript was way too long. I wasn’t convinced that in order to tell the story it absolutely needed to be 160k.
This Person’s Response: This writer couldn’t handle my very general feedback. I wasn’t rude. I wasn’t mean. I provided very practical and realistic input. This person, who happened to also be a lawyer, made it like it was a court case and began to send lots of emails, messages on FB, etc. When I told him to stop, he wouldn’t. He continued to argue about everything like this was life or death and like we were in the courtroom. I tried to tell him that he could simply take whatever input he wished to take and leave the rest. This person wasn’t capable of diplomatic passion, and he lacked self-awareness.
My Response: Very calm, one-liners. When this person was clearly unable to accept my boundaries and general input, I ended up having to block him on Facebook. I deleted any incoming spam emails from him and stopped reading them altogether.
Scenario 2.) The COVID-Ultra-Sensitive Person: COVID has changed many of us. The topic can get heated fast amongst passionate folks. There are COVID-sensitive people out there. Then there are super ultra-sensitive people who may react very passionately even if you are vaccinated. I went out to eat with my husband we were waiting in a long line outside the restaurant with other people. There was a woman in her mid-forties there with her senior parents. She was suspiciously eyeballing everyone and seemed to be highly anxious, paranoid, and mentally off.
This Person’s Response: I was standing several feet away from this woman who targeted me. She began to curse me out for no apparent reason other than the fact that she felt my family and I needed to move further back. But everyone was waiting in the same line to be seated. There was nowhere else for any of us to go. I told her we were vaccinated, and we had our masks on. But this lady wouldn’t stop cursing and even started to passionately target other customers eating at the restaurant for defending us. Some of the customers told the lady we were doing nothing wrong and that the sidewalk was a public space. My family and I were allowed to stand there and wait until we were seated. This lady’s mom even got in my face and started harassing me. While her daughter proceeded to flip everyone off.
My Response: I never once cursed back. I never once reacted. I walked over to the managers and told them what was going on. After I filed the complaint with the manager, the lady, and her two older parents left. All of the restaurant people came up to us and apologized. They were all saying the same thing. If this lady was so afraid to go out of her house, she and her parents should not have gone out to eat at a public restaurant.
Scenario 3.) The No-Filter Family Member: I had a family member I wasn’t talking to for personal reasons.
This Person’s Response: This person called me up out of the blue, while we were attempting to leave the house for breakfast I might add, and proceeded to talk and talk and talk. She felt that she needed to address things between us. I could barely get a word in edgewise, and then I found out that she had me on speakerphone with her kids in the car, discussing very adult topics. It was not only inappropriate, but that type of open forum was not the time or the place to discuss private matters in front of children. While the conversation began as a quasi-apology, it started to take a turn toward a subject matter I was not comfortable discussing at that time.
My Response: I said I didn’t feel comfortable talking in this way. But this person insisted that they had even more to get “off their chest,” which I viewed as being very selfish. At that point, I simply couldn’t hear it anymore, and the person kept saying… “But wait, I’m not done yet.” I had to hang up. I said I was hanging up and did just that. I absolutely could not discuss anything with this person anymore. It was a one-sided monologue. It wasn’t a conversation. The person was talking at me. I found that this family member, while very smart in other areas, lacks empathy, lacks emotional intelligence, doesn’t listen when other people are talking, talks over them, and obviously lacks self-awareness. When I told my therapist about the details, she agreed with me completely and agreed that I had to provide boundaries. For self-preservation, I had to hang up.
The Bottom Line
The biggest thing I learned is that many people do not exercise diplomatic passion. This is especially true since the pandemic. People are more on edge and more vocal. Many people who are passionate and want to get something off their chest will often not care about your viewpoint. When this occurs, arguments and disagreements can erupt. Diplomatic passion means having your perspective on a subject and being okay with allowing other people to have theirs. It’s being diplomatic about your opinion, knowing when to give one-liner responses, and knowing when to simply not provide your input. This is especially true when people are targeting you, yelling at you, raising their voice, not letting you talk, etc. Sometimes, the only response for you to do is to hang up, walk away, or not respond at all. Whenever you find yourself passionate about your art, creativity, writing, political views, and so forth, try to also keep in mind other people and their feelings. The more we practice self-awareness, the more we take back control instead of letting our feelings run our lives.