Do They Really Need to Hear It, or Do You Really Need to Say It?

The music emitting all tinny from your co-worker’s ears while you try to write a difficult email, or while you calm an irate customer on the phone.  (Insert your particular office annoyance here, if you prefer.)   You. Just. Can’t. Take. It. Any. More.  You watch enough of the popular reality shows; life is about making your mark.  Stand up for yourself, make yourself heard.

Well, let’s think about that for a minute first.  One of the skills that you claim is being a good communicator which does start with the same hard consonant sound as that driver of ‘reality’ show entertainment, confrontation.  But that would be where the resemblance starts and ends.

hear it

They might really need to hear it, and confrontation provides a release for any frustration that you feel has hit overflow status as you experience the action or words that preceded your explosion into confrontation.  But immediately after the confrontation ends and the silence blankets the area, the implications of your choice start to move in.

Communication starts long before you open your mouth or start to type the email.  It starts in your head with the thoughts that develop your intended outcome.  You both share the same space, the same co-workers, the same boss, probably similar work loads and organizational difficulties.

say itConfrontation starts with your mouth opening and your brain operating at its most base level.  Regardless of the number of people who are also annoyed by the offender’s behavior, the outcome of confrontation will leave you looking like the aggressor and give the original offender justification to continue with their behavior.

Worse, your actions will most likely lead to an escalation because you have met a disregard of shared space with an equal or worse disregard of your own.  Wars have been started in petty ways – look up the War of Jenkins’ Ear.  History doesn’t tell us why some Spaniard separated Jenkins from his ear, but it is a good bet that someone just couldn’t hold their tongue in time for their brain to say ‘bad idea’.

Look also to the opening scene of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet where minor characters in each of the two great houses exchange offences by biting their thumbs at each other.  As foul an action at that time as certain fingers are in ours.  Had these minor characters kept their thumbs away from their mouths, perhaps the play would have been shorter and less violent.  Though with teenage hormones involved in the scenario, that isn’t very likely an outcome.

So we can absorb the actions of the past and of all the reality shows as a cautionary tale and decide if we really need to say it, we should say it inside our own head.  And if they really need to hear it, well maybe it could be posed as a question over lunch while you discover all the things that unite the two of you instead of focusing on the division.

© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

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