Academy Award season just ended and the winners have been announced. The nominees for best picture included The Fighter, True Grit, The King’s Speech, and Social Network to name a few. They all have one thing in common. Conflict. It is what makes the story worth telling.
There is a natural tendency of human nature to gravitate toward being an observer of others strife. We watch reality TV, slow down to look at an accident, watch the breaking news of fires, mudslides, and car chases that last for hours.
For the purposes of this article think about your social network such as family, friends, co-workers or even Facebook. Ask yourself if you have a hard time asking for something to be different in a relationship. Do you “go along with the flow” even though you don’t like the flow? Are you afraid that by speaking up you will hurt someones feelings or you will not be liked? Do you try to get others to manipulate others to speak up for you? Are you uncomfortable being witness to others you know personally who are demonstrating relationship dissonance.
The question is why do so many of us avoid sharing what we think, need, or feel? What is so hard about speaking up on how we want to be treated or changes that we would like to see in a relationship. By learning to speak up then there is opportunity for change, confidence increases, and potential to strengthen the relationship.
Avoidance of conflict in your own life can lead to resentment, depression and general unhappiness due to a lack of power and control. It is uncomfortable and can be emotionally messy if we are not careful. If there is something that continues to bother you in a relationship it might be time to confront/share what you are thinking, how you are feeling and what it is that you would like to change.
If you meet resistance which often happens (change is hard) it does not mean you give up. Altering your own behavior and messaging is also important to support change. If you discuss an issue that can’t be resolved, learn to politely disagree.
Think about how you can still set your boundaries even though others don’t like it. For example, you are tired of doing your teenage son’s laundry because more often than not, you find it on the floor. You share your frustration, how it feels disrespectful after your effort to not only buy his clothes but keep them clean. You clarify your expectation. Take care of your clothes! This is an ongoing battle because laziness, school and girls get in the way of his priorities. Tired of this ongoing effort, you calmly announce that you will no longer be doing his laundry. And you don’t!!!
It doesn’t have to be a fight! Sometimes the fear of speaking up is the belief that you will start a fight. It does not have to get angry and loud. If we approach the subject in a blaming or accusatory way you will probably have a defended response. You are less like to be heard and truly understood.
We all somehow believe that we are mind readers and we know exactly what will happen. The truth is that we can hint all we want but that doesn’t make it possible for others to read your mind. You are taking time to share something that is bothering you.
The King’s Speech
The King’s Speech was a wonderful illustration of how by creating conflict and dissonance a true king emerged. Lionel, the antagonist through conflict allowed the future king had to be vulnerable and angry. King George the VI had to work painfully hard at speaking his truth. He had to learn how to articulate his thoughts without a stammer. His fears and resentments were diminished and he found true friendship.
- Positive communication is the best way to tackle the situation.
- Understand your intention.
- Design you choice of words around your goal.
- Strategically plan time and place.
- Have solutions or suggestions for the problem.
Encourage others to speak up for themselves and take action when necessary. Try to think of confrontation or conflict as an opportunity to learn more about you and others. Make your story worth telling.