Confrontation and Difficult Conversations
I have been sitting on this blog post for a while now. I've struggled to put my thoughts together in a post because with all the wonderful #blackgirlmagic and #girlboss-ing going around, it’s hard to admit that sometimes I feel less than magical, especially in the workplace.
You see, over the last month I've had to have tough conversations at work. The kind that make you squirm just thinking about it, where you have to give yourself a pep talk before you go in.
Thankfully they haven't been knock-down drag out fights but, on multiple occasions I’ve had to take responsibility for mistakes that I didn’t make and have uncomfortable conversations before I was ready - knowing that it could affect me negatively in the long run (more on that in another post).
And for someone who is the poster child of “choosing your battles”, I realize that most battles just aren't worth fighting.
But what do you do when the battle chooses you?
I really had to reflect on why all of a sudden, I was being faced with this “forced conflict”. And I realized that God has placed me in a training ground to grow a part of myself that has been left dormant up until now.
I am still working out the kinks and figuring out an approach that works for me. But, I've learned a lot that I'm going to share and I'd love to learn from you too.
If you always avoid uncomfortable conversations, are you allowing your voice to be heard?
I used to pride myself in avoiding conflict, but that avoidance comes with a price.
When I don’t speak up for what I want or need, in an effort to “get along”, I find myself going without and being walked over. And the longer this goes on, guaranteed one of three things are going to happen, you’ll develop resentment, you’ll blow up or your spirit with wither and die. I’ve had all 3 instances happen to me and I can say, none of these outcomes are better than speaking up in the first place.
Once you set a precedent of letting others' opinions and desires cover yours, it’s hard to reverse.
Phew, this one hurts. But it’s true. We have to teach people how we want to be treated and most won’t get it the first time. So it has be reinforced constantly.
And it is so hard to undo bad behavior that you’ve continuously allowed. Think about it, it’s much easier to teach a 2-year-old how to be respectful than a 16-year-old who’s never been taught. And the same rules go for adults.
And don’t get me started about what happens when you finally decide to put your foot down.
Conflict is normal
We are all made with our own unique set of thoughts, opinions and desires. Even the closest of friends don’t always agree and even perfect people, (Jesus is the best example) run into conflict. So I say again,
Conflict is normal
And weird is hiding your opinion and not speaking up for yourself. You are important and have something valuable to add to any and every conversation.
Plus, your employer is paying you for your mind, so it’s best to give them their money’s worth!
Don’t make it personal
Ahh, if I could only master this, all would be right in the world. I admit, I am guilty of taking things personal that shouldn't be.
The situation usually goes like this, something is said or done and whether it's done intentionally or not, I am instantly transported back 30 years when something was said to me at the playground, that made me feel the same way. It may sound ridiculous, but those who get it, feel me.
I believe the first part to mastering the art of not taking things personal starts when you truly understand that your job is not who you are. It does not add or take away from your value. So whatever Susie cubicle or Bobbi boss says or does has no merit on the truly amazing person you are - and so you should act accordingly.
Own up to it when you make a mistake and figure out how it can be rectified or how you'll make sure it never happens again. It's that simple. Don't cover it up, don't blame someone else and definitely don't ignore it.
Question: What approach do you take when handling difficult conversations and conflict?