Have you ever had a sick day rather than have to deal with a supervisor that has been riding you like a pack mule?
Or fantasised about holding an imaginary voodoo ritual conducted on a family member who insists it is their birth right to prove your stupidity at every family do?
How many nights have you lay awake arguing with a phantom work mate?
(If this scenario just took a romantic turn in your head this blog may not be for you.)
One of the most empowering things I have done in my work/life history was not learning to fire a semi automatic glock (albeit badly), but to get down and dirty with a communication professor to learn true communication terms and how they can impact on our ability to deal with stress. I really had to have a good hard look at my assertion and listening abilities so that I can develop a better way to work and play. And most significantly - the ability to develop strategies to eliminate bullying, domestic violence and war. Yes peeps - the big stuff. But we are the shittest of the shit at communication. Hence, an Australian woman's greatest threat to her life is her current or former partner, and we are teetering on the edge of World War III.
Maybe people get to the point where they believe, "Man, it's tough, I don't want to have one more thing I have to do... think.... say... I would prefer it just all went away." #ponderingmylifeasarapper
Maybe this is why people say 'I don't like confrontation', and are supported with knowing nods. And if anyone were to say, 'No, I do like to put it all out on the table,' people take a little step away and look upon said self confessed confronter with a tentative curiosity - wondering where we store this one-eyed, war-scarred unicorn. Is this person dangerous? Or are they useful? (And, how can I use them to my advantage? Hmmmm.)
But it is our inability to confront people that could be eroding away at our mental health, our family life and our workplace performance.
Confrontation is one of the most poorly understood terms in the English language. Hollywood has brain washed us to invoke images of strapping on a fully automatic weapon dripping with ammunition and a sweaty head band to make good on a cause. There are connotations of witty verbose, yelling, name calling and courtroom scenes. However, the true, literal definition of confrontation is much more benign and calm. It is almost bland. Confrontation in its purest form is an attempt to bring awareness of a significant gap between a persons actions and their words.
I am here to tell you that what you doing, and what you saying, are not the same.
No blood shed, no screaming, crying, streaming snot bubbles. No steely glances, fist pumping or spitting. No one gets sacked, killed, or hot water thrown in their face.
Just one soul telling another soul that something isn't adding up.
The words 'I don't like confrontation' becomes an excuse, or a validation, to remain passive. And this is the most simple definition of passive aggressive behaviour. By avoiding confrontation, the very drama the person is claiming they are seeking to avoid is actually being created - but on a different level. A level of avoidance, complacency and a general expression of "I can't - you do it."
An example of passive aggression may be:
"I didn't do what I said I would.... because I was sick, tired, busy, busy, busy."
Hey, don't think I don't see the #irony here. There are only so many balls in the air that we can all juggle before they come crashing down. But in the spirit of learning and teaching better communication I no longer regale people with my lists. Because a communication expert taught me that this is just me being passively aggressive. And she is uber smart. Even when she was shining a light brightly and solidly at my big pimply communication flaws, I still enjoyed the process - and didn't die. I just had to squeeze a bit to get to the core of the matter. (Try and get that image out of your head).
And more importantly I needed to learn this: Passive aggressive is still being aggressive.
And I made a decision - that is not how I want to roll (anymore).
I don't want to be aggressive anymore.
I don't want that flittering, unhinged feeling anymore. So now, instead of the passive aggressive lists, I apologise and acknowledge my actions, and propose solutions to said inadequacies.
Likewise, if I see that a person's actions and their words are on two seperate paths I make a judgement call as to whether it needs to be addressed for the sake of my work life, family life and mental health. Once I recognise it, I confront it, and I deal with it. I wash the dishes so I can get an early night.
I don't need to name call, or blame, or say "You let me down you doe brained fly penis, don't you know how busy I am?"
That is just plain aggressive.
I am also more cognisant of 'poor me' statements like "You make me feel... [insert superimposed feelings of guilt, shame, inadequacies here]."
Nobody makes me feel anything but me. It is my job to confront it and deal with it.
And I will also confront a person (my children are definitely not exempt) if they say to me: "You made me...", "You make me feel..."
Nope, nope, nope. I understand you feel a certain way.... and I am compassionate to that. But they are your feelings.
I have no control over you, or your feelings.
But I do have control over my response. And my response can be one of compassion, and one can should never confuse compassion with submission.
Just like if I saw somebody in pain standing on a bridge contemplating whether to jump, I would not hesitate to confront them. I would not walk away with a subconscious passive belief that it was someone else's job to help them.
I would say something like this:
"You don't have to do this. Not today. Not here. I will be affected by what you are about to do forever."
There are only two real emotions - fear and love. We get to choose which one we are going to run with. Which one are you taking out on to the track today?
Does your training officer need to get onboard with workplace stress and communications training? Send them this way, I will sort them out.
Who is the twit writing this blog?
What do people think about RAVES and RAVES courses?