Updated: Nov 19, 2019
Procrastination. People procrastinate in various ways depending on the situation, but the one type of procrastination that is a common one for a lot of people, is having the difficult conversations....
We ALL have been there whether it's giving negative feedback to someone at work, talking to a friend about a disagreement, ending a relationship or even addressing an issue with a spouse, basically any situation that feels uncomfortable addressing.
I know I sure have been there many times in the past. I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings or let anyone down, and I just wanted to please everyone. For someone who truly doesn't mind being confronted, I honestly found it so hard to initiate the difficult conversations. I felt so awkward, invalidated, and felt I never said what I had imagined I was going to say in my head...so I just tried to avoid them.
I would just not say anything, convincing myself it was all just fine, ultimately leading me to have an outburst and/or aggressive reaction. It ultimately would just make the situation worse because I would behave in a way that was irrational at the time not thinking clearly. After that would happen, in my head I'd be like...."Why do I feel so shitty? They were wrong because of xyz reason, and I spoke up so WTF?!"...I later then realized that although my reaction at the time felt justified to me, I ultimately was the one who didn't communicate effectively from the very start how I was feeling and continuously kept it all in. I was too worried about putting other people's feelings and needs above my own, where I ended up doing what I initially wanted to avoid...making the situation worse.
It wasn't until I was almost finished with college that I identified this pattern of behavior of mine, and felt I wasn't being true to myself and what I needed in life. I then made a conscious effort to clearly state my thoughts and feelings as they were happening, and set clear expectations from the beginning. It was difficult at first but like anything else that needs practice and consistency, it became the norm for me and I now have successfully been able to apply this effort with my work life, and my personal life. It is also something I try to instill with anyone I have a personal relationship with for them to be open with me, as this is a two way street that also requires openness from the receiving end.
I heard a metaphor recently that I felt applies to this, that I wanted to share...Sometimes you can't just put a patch on a leaky pipe and expect it to be fixed properly. If not taken care of early enough, it could get worse potentially causing water pressure to build up under the patch, causing it to potentially explode creating way more damage than if you just dealt with it initially. You then run the risk of having long term damage that could be irreversible. Net Net...just have the conversation. Putting it off or putting a "patch" on it does not mean it goes away. You're just prolonging the inevitable and potentially making the situation worse.
I hope this was helpful and provided a little inspiration for anyone that may be avoiding a difficult conversation right now, for whatever situation it may be for. Just rip the band-aid off. I promise it will be better in the long run.
Some things I do to be more clear and direct when approaching these types of conversations are:
Write out my thoughts and points I want to make before having the conversation
Provide examples and/or tangible evidence to back up my points
Acknowledge where the other person may be coming from and that you understand that point
Allow for open feedback from the other party, and have compassion for their point of view
Adjust expectations going forward if necessary
Let me know if anyone is interested in specific examples and/or some templates to use as a guide so I can create and post! Just subscribe, at the bottom of the page, and leave a comment!
** Another little thought to keep in mind - Always speak your truth. If you end up losing a couple people in your life because you stand up for yourself, or are doing what feels best for you, then those people weren't supposed to be in your life anyways. I admittedly have lost quite a few people in my life who I considered close friends, simply because I finally stood up for myself. I'm actually a happier person now that they are no longer in my life. Not that they were bad people, I just felt I was always pretending or trying to be someone I was not in order to fit their standards. I realized you shouldn't have to be someone you are not to get people to like you. YOU are enough as YOU. The type of people you need and want to surround yourself with in your life will come to you the quicker you act like YOU.