Why don’t people TALK to each other anymore? Increasingly, I see people deal with uncomfortable situations by going around the person with whom they have an issue and asking someone else to solve it. Very often, that person is yours truly, and frankly, I don’t get it. A game of corporate tattletale? Conflict avoidance as an art form? Fear factor?
I believe these scenarios are generally about conflict avoidance. No one wants to do the hard stuff these days. The problem is that people often presume conflict where none exists. Most of the time, a simple question can turn a situation around.
Think about this.
- If someone says something that offends you, don’t call me to tell me until you’ve discussed it with that person. You’ll save everyone a lot of frustration–yourself included–if you simply say to the offending person, “I took offense to what you just said because (…). Is that how you intended it?” Every time I have received a call to step in, the situation has turned out to be a misunderstanding.
- If you’re confused, it would be more productive to articulate the nature of your confusion instead of stomping off to ask someone else. (Namely me.) Try it. Then both of you will have the opportunity to improve your communication rather than stunting its growth.
Please don’t call me until you’ve tried to work it out on your own. By that, I don’t mean ignoring or avoiding the issue, and I don’t mean asking someone else. I mean approaching the person with whom you’re having the communication problem and addressing it head on. You’ll build stronger relationships and become a better communicator, and I won’t have to be your middle man. Oh yeah, and you’ll feel better, too.
The problem is that offended people are never rational. They have an emotional reaction and because of it often escalate a conflict by taping in to the other person’s emotions with their reaction. It’s great that you are able to build bridges. I believe that often people don’t even want a solution to their problem when they come to you; they are seeking emotional validation and empathy.
I agree that sometimes that may be the case, but not always. Regardless, the intent of my commentary is to share my insights and opinion in the hope that they will be helpful to someone–admittedly those who are willing to try. If I don’t take that approach, this will simply become a rant, which is absolutely contrary to my purpose.