Conflict Avoiders - Find Your Voice and Play Big!
Do you avoid conflict?
Walk on eggshells around certain people?
Hesitate to rock-the-boat?
Say yes, when you want to say no?
Brace against people’s reactions?
If you said yes to any of these, I bet you are frustrated, resentful, and doing way too much!
You should Meet Angie.
Angie is a bright, successful, accomplished women and a rising star in her high tech company in Seattle. Her boss, Bob, just asked her to lead a significant project and go to a weekend technology conference in San Antonio to support the project. She immediately recognized that it was the same weekend her husband, Ted had planned their anniversary hiking get-a-way. Ugh!
When Bob asked about the conference she tightened inside. She knew Ted her husband would be furious, but she didn’t want to rock-the-boat with her boss Bob since he had just given her a plumb role. She asked, “Is that the only conference I can attend on this?”
Bob quickly answered, “Yes. Can you make it?”
Angie nodded slowly, “Of course.”
When she got home that night she avoided giving Ted the news. It wasn’t until the weekend when Ted came home with new climbing equipment for their get-a-way that Angie felt compelled to bring it up. “I’m sorry Ted. I can’t go on our trip that weekend.”
Ted was stunned and more than a little pissed, “WTF! We’ve been planning this for two months!”
“I’m running this big project at work, and Bob said I had to go to a conference for it. I’m sorry!” Angie said, almost pleading.
Ted started to pace and rant, “I can’t believe it! I scheduled everything around this weekend. I bet you didn’t even tell Bob you had a conflict did you?!”
With Ted’s fiery style, Angie often felt like she had to walk on eggshells, and make things work no matter what the cost to her. She side-stepped his question, trying to stay positive. “I know we can make it work. Look, I’ll cancel my yoga retreat next month. We can go then.”
Ted walked out, “Whatever!” Angie felt defeated, exhausted and didn’t know what to do to make it right.
Can you relate?
I’m CrisMarie and I coach bright, competent, accomplished women who are weenies when it comes to dealing with conflict in their key relationships, both at home and at work. Yes, their relationships may look good on the outside, and at work these women are usually performing like dynamos. However, these women are frustrated, resentful and exhausted trying to meet the demands of everyone around them.
The reason it all looks good on the outside is that these women are
spending vast amounts of energy managing around potential conflicts
saying yes when they want to say no
giving up their boundaries over and over again
They are doing everything for everyone with severe cost to themselves.
They believe they have no choice.
They feel trapped and powerless.
They think it’s all up to them to make it happen.
It’s sad to see these women give up so much of themselves, erroneously thinking they have no choice.
How Do I Know?
I was one of those women. My goal was to please those around me so that they wouldn’t get upset. I was walking on eggshells, trying to say things just right, hoping and praying my boss, my partner, or my friend didn’t get upset. To me, my partner had an anger management issue, my boss was too demanding, and my sister was smothering.
Oh, and by the way, I was suffering from chronic fatigue, had a back injury from participating in the Olympics that wouldn’t go away, was miserable in my relationship and was working 60 hours a week trying to make my boss happy.
I was exhausted, having no fun and felt so terribly alone, wondering why my strategy wasn’t working. I was a professional pleaser and Conflict Avoider.
If you are still reading this you may be one too.
The Secret Conflict Avoiders Don’t Know
What you many not understand yet is that conflict isn’t a problem to be solved, managed, or avoided. It is a natural part of any healthy relationship both at work and at home. Conflict provides an opportunity to speak up, show up, and engage with another adult who has a different opinion, perspective, or desire.
To some, this view of conflict seems obvious, but to you, a true Conflict Avoider, any sign of conflict is threatening. A sense of threat floods your body, and you will do anything to resolve it – even if it means throwing yourself under the bus.
Am I right?
I have worked hard to overcome my Conflict Avoider tendency. Today, I speak up for myself even in tough situations.
I say, “No, that won’t work for me,” without bracing.
I prioritize what is most important to me first because I matter.
I make my choices based on how I feel rather than what others expect of me.
I can tolerate their upset without making myself wrong. Can you say: Empowerment!
I’ve found my own voice, my own power, and my tolerance to hang in during interpersonal conflict. I am able hold onto me, while also staying interested in you – okay, most of the time!
As a result, I have tons of energy and a sense of freedom I never knew existed before. Instead of being my nemesis, my back is my truth meter. It acts up when I’m avoiding something that is important for me to do or say.
Plus I have a relationship that is passionate and alive, and work I love. Heck, I get to work with awesome people like you to help you handle those tough conversations!
You too can learn to speak up directly and say what you really think, feel and want. You don’t have to feel trapped.
Back To Angie
When I worked with Angie we got her speaking up both at home and at work. After this kerfuffle Angie acknowledged her conflict avoiding tendencies with Ted:
“You’re right Ted. I never told Bob I had a conflict. It’s scary for me to disagree or potentially upset Bob, but this is exactly what I am working on. I’ll see what I can do, but no promises!”
Ted appreciated the acknowledgment, but wasn’t holding his breath.
Angie then went back to her boss Bob and said, “What I didn’t tell you is that I had a anniversary hiking trip planned the same weekend as the conference. I’d like to keep my weekend plans. I wanted to see if we could come up with any creative solutions.”
Bob was surprised but understood. After talking about it, they decided to send Jess, a key person on the project, to the conference, which worked out perfectly.
Ted was thrilled and was optimistic about Angie’s bold move. Plus, they both had a delightful time on the hiking trip.
If Angie had been too afraid to ask she would have suffered like a good solider.
It’s Time To Do Something Different
You can continue to try to meet the demands of everyone around you or you can realize that you can speak up and say what you think, feel, and want directly and early. Yes, people will have feelings and reactions, but you don’t have to take that away from them. The other person is an able, resourceful adult. So are you.
If you relate to me, Angie and countless other women who have struggled with speaking up and dealing with conflict, and want to do something different, there is a way!
To jump on it right away you can click the link below and download our free The Secret to Creating Boundaries that Stick Cheat Sheet and change how you show up today in the conversations that matter to you most.
If you know enough is enough, and now is your time, then check out our Be BRAVE program. It is a six-week program designed especially for professional women who want to be able to speak up, have a tough conversation, and take back their energy and their life. Click here to learn more and sign up.
What are you waiting for?
CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke are Master certified life coaches, business consultants, speakers and authors of The Beauty of Conflict. They believe real relationships are the key to creating great business results. They’ll take your team from mediocre to great.
Interested in coaching? Check out CrisMarie’s executive coaching and personal coaching, or Susan’s personal coaching and equus coaching.
Want to take a class? Sign up for one of their virtual classes: Get Unstuck, Relationship Mojo or come to their signature retreat Find Your Mojo in Montana. Click here to check out all their service offerings.
Click here to contact them to coach with you, consult with your team, or speak at your next event.