I go out of my way to avoid the emotional type of conflicts with people I love, treasure, and work with because I don’t like to step on toes…though I should for the sake of my personal well-being. I always step up to the plate with my personal opinions, points of view, and to right a wrong. However, I fall short in the art of negotiation within the family framework, with friends, and with people in general on personal, and emotional matters. So a few years ago I signed up for a two-day course in the ‘Art of Negotiation.’ It helped somewhat, but not enough. When I saw the number of people in the class I knew I was not alone. I know it is hard for many of you, as well as myself, to have difficult conversations.
You Have Choices
If the problem is cut and dry, and I can fix it without a word between myself and the other person, I will let it go without words. Why? Because I know a conversation will do more harm than good so I take my time and weigh my options. Here is an example: You tell a person a secret and find out they betrayed your trust. Now that you know they are not trustworthy, you are in the driver’s seat without a word spoken between you. Many times silence is golden. You negotiated without a word and your relationship with the other person will continue to be as you choose.
On the same topic, trust. If you are shocked by a betrayal and decide to end a relationship, you do not have to have a long and uncomfortable conversation. You simply tell the person the relationship between you cannot be repaired and end the conversation.
Most conversations involving a conflict or igniting a conflict are difficult, at best. Difficult conversations are not cut and dry. You will have to negotiate. When you have not done your due diligence these conversations easily become confrontational and the problem may remain unsolved. Personally, I am uncomfortable discussing anything I know the other person will not like hearing.
There are reasons we feel uncomfortable and each reason has merit. A person may turn down your request to meet. The person may become defensive or argumentative or the person lies and agrees with you. Maybe the person can’t understand why you feel the way you do but…she really does! Often times the person closes up and nothing gets resolved. The above examples are just for starters.
Hard Lessons to Learn
I learned lessons the hard way just as you have. One of the unhappiest experiences I encountered was a close friend tried to fool me. She insisted I could not understand why I felt as I did. She took her problem and deflected it on me. I knew what she was doing. She knew I had her number and she thought she came prepared. Needless to say, the friendship had to end. She no longer could face me and I felt differently toward her. I came to the table to save a friendship. She was unable to show her vulnerable side and say, “You are right. I am sorry. I value our friendship.” No one won, and to this day, I ask myself what I could have done differently. The only answer: keep your silence. I couldn’t.
Taking the High Road
I believe you should take the high road in most situations. However, I used to think you should take the high road in every situation. I learned that once in a while you are darned if you do, but very possibly not darned if you don’t. So, before you have the encounter ask yourself, “What was the person’s intention?” In other words, what caused her to act the way she did? If you can determine the why’s then you can decide on your approach with an end goal. This requires you to focus on the general personality of the person.
Some people should be confronted head-on and stopped in their tracks for their actions because nothing you do or say will stop their behavior. I speak from a one-time experience that cost me dearly. This person only understands when you take a lower road than she takes.
What Is Your Intention and Action?
I know the fear of consequences prevents many women from facing conflict. You should ask yourself, “What is my intention?” If your intention is good and has value, you have different styles of action. I have used all of them.
1. You decide to avoid the conflict. There will be no resolution for either of you. You are not showing consideration for either of your feelings.
2. You cooperate and accommodate them and leave the meet-up very unhappy with yourself. She leaves happy. You took no action even though your intention was good.
3. You stand your ground because her intention was so out of line and your intention required this type of action.
4. You watch her body language and listen hard to her words and decide that compromising with this person will have good results. You took positive action and the relationship may become stronger because of good intention on your part.
5. You ask her what is bothering her and after listening to her you have a much better understanding of her intention. You ask her to collaborate with you. It proves to be a good action for both of you.
What Is My Intention and Action?
Every Wednesday I attend a Zoom meet-up with women from my private Facebook group, GRANDwomen with Moxie. When one of the women mentioned the words “intention and action,” she opened my eyes to a new way of looking at people and myself. I now ask myself, “What is the intention of this person, or what is my intention?” Then, “What should their action be and what should my action be?” In my opinion, it helps make up one’s mind on what style to use when faced with a decision of how to handle a difficult situation with a difficult person.