Intimidating seems to be the new buzz word lately. I heard the word at the last campout. I’ve been training to go to Philmont with my son this summer so have lost quite a bit of weight, and one of the committee members came up to me and said “now that you are skinny, you aren’t quite so intimidating anymore”.
Thinking that he was joking, I assured him that I still was and I pulled aside a passing Tenderfoot Scout and asked him if I was intimidating. The Scout kind of looked at me strangely and answered very seriously, no I wasn’t. I played it up and acted like he burst my bubble.
I have to explain that I am a pretty big guy. I was an Army MP for a while and I played offensive line for a small college, so for a portion of my life, I tried really hard to be feared. But kids, for whatever reason, seem to be wary of me for an average of 15 seconds and then as my wife says: They get to know me.
So I heard the word again recently. A committee member told someone else that they didn’t want to discuss something with me because they thought I was intimidating. I’ve asked around, and there are a few more that feel the same way. My first thought was tough, take the time to know me before you judge me, but…
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Mainly, because I wouldn’t want someone around my kids if I thought they were intimidating. That conjures up the words mean or abusive to me and there is no room for that in scouting.
I’ve thought back to some of the conversations that I’ve had with these adults and from my standpoint, I don’t see a problem, but trying to see it from their standpoint, I guess I could have been nicer. During one instance I remember an actual argument, where I felt the volunteer, though well meaning, was being a detriment to the program of scouting and I explained exhaustively (the only way I know how to explain) why they were wrong. Other instance revolve in my memory around someone telling me that they didn’t like the way I did something and me requesting them to show me another way to do it. (Sometimes it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool….)
Anyhow, so now this is on my heart, and as is my practice, I will seek these people out and apologize, trying to make amends. Not necessarily for what I did, but for how they perceived it, and try to change my tact with them in the future… so I don’t seem so… intimidating.