I am writing this blog article to share a recent experience. There is an individual in my office that many times drives me crazy. I felt like she never listened to my concerns and didn’t take me seriously. Every time I had a conversation with her my blood pressure would spike. I would tell myself not to call her because I knew it would aggravate me. But like metal to a magnet, I felt compelled to call her. It would be: conversation with her = blood pressure spike = nothing was resolved = I felt lousy.
I hope you are not like this, but I would replay my conversations with her over and over in my mind. I would feel miserable, resentful and just plain old mad.
When I would interact with her, I would explain what I saw as the problem in the office. She would always respond with explanations in a defensive manner. I felt like she was always making excuses.
Finally, I confronted her. When she started her usual explanations, I stopped her. I told her I didn’t want explanations, but rather I wanted her to know how I felt about the situation. I told her she didn’t need to agree, but I hoped she would listen to me. She agreed and I began to explain that when she immediately became defensive and tried to explain the problem anyway, I felt like she didn’t believe me, that she blew off my concerns. I told her she didn’t need to agree with me but at least let me know that she heard me.
Once this was off my chest, I instantly felt better. She responded that she was trying to make me feel better by offering all her explanations. I explained to her that I just needed to know she heard me and that when she launched into her explanations it was like my points or concerns didn’t matter. I knew we had a communication problem but I thought it was hopeless. When I confronted the situation directly, instead of complaining about her to others, I took the first step towards true communication.
It’s hard to be direct sometimes. Most of us, don’t like confrontation. We will suffer in silence before we speak up. This just makes it worse, of course. When it is a touchy subject, it seems easier to complain about it with your coworkers or friends. It is hard to directly confront someone about a problem. Why? We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. We are afraid if we mention the problem it will start an argument. We think we can just ignore it.
When we take this path, what seems like the easier path, we just make it harder on ourselves. In life, you reach a cross road and there are two paths. Which one should you take? One path seems easier (ignore the problem) and the other path seems harder (confront the problem). But in the end, the easier path always turns into the much harder path.
When you take the so called easy way, you remain resentful and you complain about it to others. The problem doesn’t go away, it just festers. The longer the problem is ignored, the worse it gets. It is best to take a deep breath and take the path that seems like the harder one. Take a deep breath and honestly, in a nice voice tone (see my blog article on voice tones)
Tell them directly what your issue is. You will be amazed how the problem that seemed so difficult, will disappear. They will appreciate your honesty. I bet they have been feeling frustrated about the problem too. Both of you will feel much better. Life is too short, to go around frustrated or mad at others. Get it off your chest but do it NICELY.
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