You know those conversations that we just don’t want to have? The ones that involve us saying having to share information or an opinion that might make either us or the other person feel uncomfortable?
You know, the ones that we like to avoid if at all possible?
Here is the thing, if we take a passive approach and attempt to take the easy way out by passing along the message through a third party or by sending a general email, there is a fairly good chance that the message will be misconstrued or ignored. The end result will inevitably be bigger conflict.
If you aren’t sure about this and want to do your own experiments, feel free. Take an issue that you know that you have to communicate with someone and see what happens when you try to take the path of least resistance.
You will eventually find that while you avoided the initial conflict (and discomfort), in the end you not only still have to have the difficult conversation, but now you have to clean up the confusion and mess from the previous attempt.
In other words, it rarely pays to avoid the things that we fear when it comes to communication. Here are some basic tips to get through that fear:
1. What exactly do you have to say?
Be clear about what you need to communicate. Say it a few times to yourself if it isn’t exactly clear.
2. Why is this important?
Make sure that you are clear about the big picture. Ideally what you have to communicate is for a greater good (helps the company, helps them, helps your relationship) and not for selfish reasons.
3. How might you feel hearing this feedback?
This will help you empathize with their position and not feel defensive before they react. Putting yourself in their shoes is the key to connecting with them in that moment.
4. Don’t take care of them.
This is unique to certain people who avoid conflict because they don’t want to hurt another person’s feelings. If you have done steps 1-3, then you need to let go of the idea that it is your job to take care of people. Let them be adults by you acting like an adult.
If you want to be free of the difficulties of conflict, then don’t run away. Deal.