You might be surprised at the number of lawyers who privately admit that they can’t stand confrontation and conflict.
Most people don’t like conflict and therefore don’t confront that which needs confronted. We hate the negative emotions it brings up as well as the potential to make a situation even worse than it currently feels. So, we bite our tongues and put up with negativity.
Confrontation has such a harsh tone at times. There is an expectation of adversarial contact. No wonder people avoid it. It sounds bad. It feels bad. And, it sometimes does lead to negative consequences.
So what if we change it up?
What if we rethink confrontation? Confrontation doesn’t have to be a dramatic interaction. You can address something without making it a huge issue.
What would it be like if you just think about communication? If someone does something you don’t like, you can address that gently. (I’m not suggesting that’s the only method, just another way to address some issues.)
If a coworker annoys us, most people either suck it up or suck it up until frustration builds. The alternative is to just have a general conversation where you let the person know what’s bothering you gently.
For example: Coworker uses more than his/her fair share of room in the office refrigerator. Most people get annoyed, tell other coworkers, and/or shove the offending items away in a beautiful passive-aggressive fashion.
It happens repeatedly, such that you begin to wonder why this person will not take a hint.
(Note: Many of our annoyances are of this variety. The issues are technically small in the grand scheme of life. So it feels petty to bring it up. And yet, if you don’t, you will just end up frustrated over time.)
So, instead of working yourself up and gearing up for some major confrontation, I would suggest that you just think of it as a conversation. You probably make many other minor requests of this coworker over the course of a year. Why can’t this be one more request? If you need him/her to leave the hallway light on when you’re working late, you probably ask for that. Think of this in the same way.
Most people think addressing this would have to be a confrontation of the order of: “You take up too much room in the refrigerator, and that is very inconsiderate.”
It doesn’t have to be. You can just say, “Hey, would you mind keeping your food to a smaller area in the frig? That would really help me out.”
The first step in improving the way you handle confrontation is simply to reframe it as a conversation. When you change your wording and mindset, the situation becomes more neutral and manageable.
How often do you end the day frustrated? If you’re like most lawyers, you’re probably frustrated by a long list – endless demands from clients and the firm, guilt over time not spent at home, anger at having no time for yourself, and not enough time to get your work done.
The solution is rethinking your situation. Get to the root cause and resolve it. The work demands may never lessen, but the stress will.
If you want to know if that would work for you, email me. Let’s talk.
Why does change suck?
Have you ever noticed how when you’re poised to do something major your self-doubts smack you upside your head?
You have the motivation, strength, and drive. You’ve set the goals, made the plans, rallied your support networks.
Then it strikes. The cobra of self-doubt comes to kick you in the ass.
It’s so frustrating. You’ve done everything to prepare, and then you get hit with the self-doubt. You beat yourself up. You question if anything will ever work out.
So why does this happen in the first place? Over the next few days, we’ll look at the reasons.
First, change requires embracing of what is new. This sounds great. We’ve already identified what we want and why we want it. Sometimes you want it so bad you can taste it, or you’re so desperate to get out of what’s bad that you can’t stand it anymore. But even the strong sense of what’s next and what you want won’t necessarily make the process of change any easier. That is because embracing the knew requires letting go of, or at least loosening our grip on, that which is old and no longer needed.
We are creatures of habit. We embrace the familiar to our own detriment. It’s like we think we’re going to miss out if we let go of the old habits, processes, places, people.
So, for today, think about what it would be like to loosen your grip on the familiar. You can always go back and pick up your old baggage if you really want it.
But explore what it would be like to move away from the old.
You can journal about what change means to you. You can make lists of how you will cope with letting go of the old ways. You can picture over and over the new life you’re creating and imagine the easiest ways possible to navigate that change. It’s up to you.
One’s destination is never a new place, but a new way of seeing things. ~Henry Miller
This is one of my favorite quotes. We frequently have this impression that change means turning our lives upside down and making dramatic changes. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sometimes the deepest, most meaningful change results from simply creating a new understanding of what we already knew, saw, or experienced.
“We shall not cease from exploring
And at the end of our exploration
We will return to where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
Examining life is the key to happiness. Sometimes you find that you weren’t that far from where you wanted to be; it just took a new perspective to make it work.