The Solution to Conflict-Avoidance: Crucial Conversations
I have a confession. I am a serial conflict-avoider and people-pleaser. Time after time, I can recognize the points in my life where I made a decision solely based on whether it made someone happy or not. It’s a prison, of sorts – in the moment you know what you’re doing, but you let yourself do it. I have avoided telling the truth of the matter when keeping quiet is expedient.
Maybe you are the same way.
A book that has given me a tool set to speak more honestly and directly is Crucial Conversations; available on Amazon here. It’s based on being successful at conversations that have (1) opposing opinions (2) strong emotions and (3) high stakes. It has strong, positive reviews by many people who have been helped by this book.
In the book, there is a concept called the “Fool’s Choice,” which is believing we have to choose between telling the truth, and keeping a friend. When we as conflict avoiders and people pleasers go along with something that is antithetical to our beliefs or values for the sake of avoiding conflict, we are lying to ourselves and others. Just because we’re avoiding conflict does not mean we are solving a problem. In fact, it’s usually the other way around.
It hurts yourself and others in the long run when we do not speak honestly in the moment. When situations like this arise, stop and ask “What do I want for myself? What do I want for others? What do I want for this relationship?” Wanting a healthy relationship with a spouse, friend, coworker, or boss requires looking at what makes a relationship healthy and mirroring that with actions that produce healthy relationships. Being healthy in relationships involves having tough, honest conversations.
Most of this comes down to choosing to take a step that causes pain in the moment. When boiled down, conflict avoidance is pain avoidance. Pain is a survival mechanism that works well for avoiding short term problems. Long term, however, placing an oversized emphasis on pain robs us of success and progress.
In professional life, having a crucial conversation means stating what you know to be true, regardless of what people will think. Bring a problem to your boss or supervisor, instead of letting it fester and cause more damage further down the road. Let a client know he is breaking the rules, rather than letting it go and dealing with a lawsuit in two years.
I would highly recommend ordering a copy of Crucial Conversations for yourself. If you’re like me and struggle with conflict avoidance, this will open your eyes to new ways of communicating.
Be clear. Be precise. Know what you want.