- Posted by Janet Zaretsky
- On July 24, 2017
- 0 Comments
Some people, maybe even you, are conflict averse and avoid it. Most people don’t enjoy conflict to some degree. However, life is filled with moments and situations that seem to have conflict or disagreement or different points of view in them. When you avoid them altogether, you likely get resentful as well as experience having no power and maybe even being taken advantage of. The cost of the avoidance is actually too great to you personally as well as professionally to use that as the only strategy. Let’s look at how to change that.
I think it is easiest to grasp if I use some examples, rather than talk theoretically.
Example: Have you ever had the experience of hearing some news, and perhaps thinking that someone was gossiping about you or was upset with you? You think about it, maybe even ruminate and are upset and yet do you do not say anything to the person. You might even talk to other people, your co-workers or friends about it. Why? Are you afraid they will be mad or in some way be mean or what is it that has you afraid to speak?
Solution: Calm your brain down! One way to do that:First, realize what you are afraid of. Ask yourself- What is the worst that could happen? How likely is that to happen? If that worst thing happens, will you be ok? Once you calm your fear down, you can approach the person and have a conversation.
The most important thing to do in this conversation is be completely upfront and ask questions, do not accuse. Naturally, if someone is accused of something, they will defend. If someone is asked a question, they get connected to you and that calms down both of your stress and fear reaction. Then talk it through. Be willing to be uncomfortable as when you begin having unfamiliar conversations it IS uncomfortable. However, being upset and ruminating is also uncomfortable and takes much longer to get over!
Example: You are at work and receive criticism. You don’t think it is justified. You are upset but don’t say anything. You start distancing yourself from the person who criticized you or even your job! Why? Perhaps you just don’t like the discomfort of the confrontation or you are afraid that you will lose your job or another reason.
Solution: Calm your brain down! One way to do that: First, realize what you are afraid of. Ask yourself- What is the worst that could happen? How likely is that to happen? If that worst thing happens, will you be ok? Once you calm your fear down, you can approach the person and have a conversation.
Get curious. Criticism is not personal. It is not saying YOU are a bad person, you are not good enough, you are a failure. Criticism is simply someone pointing out a different, perhaps more effective or more efficient way to do something. It is an opportunity to learn and grow professionally as well as personally.
Thank the person who gave you the critique for being committed to your growth and development.
The steps to having difficult conversations are first to calm your brain down and then have a complete conversation being committed to resolve differences.
Avoiding conflict may seem like the right move to make, however, in my experience, you are still conflicted and, in fact, often more upset than if you simply talk.