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3 Myths That Keep You Frustrated and Silent in Your Relationships

The top three myths that keep you frustrated and silent in your relationships are:

  1. I can’t be honest. I’ll hurt their feelings.

  2. A good relationship is one that is always smooth.

  3. I can’t say “no.”

If you know you suffer the consequences of these myths and want to immediately take action to bust these myths, click the box below to download our FREE 5 Days from Frustration and Freedom Workbook to find your voice, take back your energy, and finally experience your freedom!

If you want to learn more about the myths, the consequences, and how to bust them before taking action, keep reading.

For the last 15 years Susan Clarke and I have coached people around the world, from Fortune 100 executives to multi-million dollar startup CEOs to entrepreneurs. Our goal is to support leaders and their teams by having real conversations so they come up with creative innovative solutions.

What we noticed is it's the WOMEN who are challenged most to claim their power in these conversations.

Don’t get me wrong - these woman are bright, competent and accomplished, but when it comes to dealing with differences in their MOST IMPORTANT relationships….these women wind up:

  • Giving themselves away.

  • Going silent.

  • Saying yes, when they mean no.

  • Are exhausted trying to meet the demands of everyone around them.

Maybe this is you?

Let’s look at the myths that keep these women, and maybe yourself, stuck in silence and suffering in your most important relationships both @home and @work.


Many women are worried about hurting other people’s feelings. It’s no wonder. Most of us grew up hearing some version of: “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Plus, women are supposed to be good at building relationships, right? Of course, we won’t want to be known for hurting other’s feelings.

However, the idea that not saying anything is better – that is a myth!

The truth is, as women we talk. Sadly, if we aren’t courageous enough to say something directly to the person, we are likely to complain about them to someone else!

Of course, what usually happens is eventually the person we were talking about hears what we were saying anyway, albeit indirectly.


That is usually much more painful!

Here’s a work example. Imagine you and Tom work at Company X.

At the last company all-hands meeting, Tom, your peer, took well over his allotted time. You had to cut your presentation short, meaning you did not get a chance to sing the praises of your team’s home run!

Tom said he was sorry. You nodded and then added, “No problem. You were so passionate. I can see how you lost track of the time.”

Later, over a glass of wine with one of your co-workers, you blurted, “Damn it! Tom is always taking extra airtime. It is always about him and his team – talk about a narcissist!”

Later, that month, Tom steps into your office, “Can we talk? I just got a horrible review. I can’t believe it. Someone had the gall to say that I’m the world’s biggest narcissist!”

Tom was pissed and underneath hurt, thinking he should quit.

Imagine if you had talked to him directly. It wouldn’t have been blow out of proportion. Tom may have even let you go first for the all-hands meeting.


I have to admit, I thought this one was true for the longest time. I worked so hard to meet the expectations of my partner, my boss, my clients, and my peers. I was hyper-vigilant in listening to what they liked so that they wouldn’t even need to ask me.

Let’s start with some myth-busting research offered by a marriage and couples therapist, John Gottman, who has been working with and studying couples for over thirty years.

“Some marital patterns that even professionals often take as a sign of a problem--such as having intense fights or avoiding conflict altogether--I have found can signify highly successful adjustments that will keep a couple together. Fighting, when it airs grievances and complaints, can be one of the healthiest things a couple can do for their relationship.”[1]

Whenever two or more of us are together, there will be differences. We will step on each other’s toes and things will get messy!

Yes, this is true at home. It is equally true at work!!

On teams, you want smart, passionate people aligned around a vision. Yet, smart people who are passionate are going to disagree. It’s healthy and frankly, the source of creativity – and it is not smooth!

A thrive! work example:

I had pulled together the client booklet for our Leading with Backbone & Heart Leadership Development program. I was just about to send it to the printer.

Susan comes in “Hey, I have a great idea for a better way to cover our communication model! Can I show you?”

I was frustrated and said: “You have got to be kidding! No way are we changing the material now! It’s about to go to the printer!” Susan never gives up easily: “But really, this will work better.”

“You always do this -- want to change things at the last minute, and it becomes a crisis for me!”

However, even as I rant to her, I remember that often our best work comes out of this tension and these blow-ups!

Sure enough, I finally calm down and listen to the new idea. No it is not great – but there is a more than a nugget of gold in what she is saying. Once I settle into knowing the print job will again be last minute, together we actually come up with an awesome new graphic and delivery method!

This becomes the favorite part of the training, and now 10 years later, a gem in our consulting and coaching practices.

So smooth may be more comfortable, but it’s not so creative. Fighting got us a creative gem that is still paying us dividends.

Third Myth: I CAN’T SAY “NO”

Most of the women leaders I have coached have told me something to the effect: “I can’t say no. I have to do it, or it won’t get done.” For these competent, bright, accomplished woman this is as true at home as it is at work.

Professional women often feel tremendous pressure to make sure that their careers do not take away from getting everything done and keeping everyone happy at home and at work. However, sometimes this over-performing is doing much more harm than good.

A Client Example:

We were coaching an amazing Executive Director (ED) of a non-profit organization doing great work. However, after working with her and her team for a few months, two things became very clear.

First, the ED was reaching burn out very quickly, and two, without her in the office every day, the organization would not continue. No one on her team was prepared to cover the workload she was managing. It wasn’t that they didn’t want to help. No, the bigger issue was her strong relational and organizational skills made her very productive – over productive.

So much so that she wasn’t preparing anyone to take her place. Most of the team was in awe of her abilities and didn’t want to fail at trying to do half of her job!

The goal of our coaching was building her ability to say, “No, you need to do that,” to her staff, and then step away and let them learn. This was incredibly difficult for her.

Her self-worth and value were inextricably tied to saying yes and getting stuff done. However, after a few months of stepping back and saying – no, her team started to learn and develop.

She discovered some of the same issues at home.

She started to say no to some of the demands like getting each of the kids to their practices, making sure dinner was made and cleaned up every night. Suddenly, other solutions showed up. Her husband got the grill going and took on dinners. Her son set up a car pool with three other soccer team mates. In other words, her no, invited others to step up!!

Learning to say no is as important as saying yes.

It is true, some things may not be done as well as you like, but if you just keep doing them, you’ll burn out, or worse, get sick.

Plus, sometimes others learn to shine when you are willing to let them!

[1] What Makes Marriage Work? It's how you resolve conflict that matters most. By John Gottman, Nan Silver, published on March 1, 1994 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke

Coaches, Business Consultants, Speakers and Authors of The Beauty of Conflict

CrisMarie and Susan work leaders and teams, couples in business, and professional women.

They help turnaround dysfunctional teams into high performing, cohesive teams who trust each other, deal with differences directly, and have clarity and alignment on their business strategy so they create great results.

Check out their website: Connect with CrisMarie and Susan on LinkedIn. Watch their TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It! Find your copy of The Beauty of Conflict: Harnessing Your Team's Competitive Advantage here.


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