In Career, Discussions, Discussions, Life

Why and how you should deal with conflict, arguments and stand up for yourself

Ever consider yourself to be an Ostrich?

You know, you bury your head in the sand and kind of pretend nothing is happening because you don’t want to deal with whatever it is that’s nasty and bad out there?

I don’t either.

Believe it or not, I was an Ostrich a long time ago.

I used to let people say whatever they wanted, walk all over me, and basically not want to stand up for myself or start any kind of fight, or even jump into any kind of argument.

As a public Ostrich but a private Fury, if anything like that happened, I’d rage and get angry behind the scenes, feel frustrated, sad and not understand why people would act the way they acted.

I wasn’t even a Peacemaker either, in the sense that I tried to find the balance between everyone’s views, but a bona fide Ostrich, also unkindly known as a doormat.

ostrich-fight-conflict-run-away-head-bury-sand-work-career

SO WHAT HAPPENED?

I can remember a class debate raging on in one of my last years of high school, and something in me snapped.

(I don’t even remember what we were debating.)


I actually stood up and shakily posed and opinion contrary to others for the first time in my life, and it felt… surprisingly good.

Later on, I reflected upon it and wondered what made me act like that when I had never done it before in my life, and 2 things came to mind:

  1. I knew I’d never really see those people again after high school
  2. I was finally sick and tired of not having my voice heard

I realized that it was happening to me and people around me were acting the way they were because I was allowing it to happen.

YOU DON’T NEED TO BE CONFRONTATIONAL ALL THE TIME

My nature is I am still an Ostrich deep down inside, but no one can safely say that I ignore conflict and arguments.

I don’t actively seek out arguments or conflicts.. I have just learned when to fight and when to let it go.

If it’s something truly important to you, then you should fight.

If it is something that is not a big deal, consider the severity of the situation, and what the fight would be if you brought it up… then decide whether it’s worth it or not (any fight can leave scars, even little ones.)

I’ve become a Lancer, where I basically see the problem, feel the issue, and then try to lance the boil, so to speak, to get it to burst so it can heal.

I don’t really want to get into a fight, an argument, yell at anyone, be yelled at, or have conflict in my life.

I know some people who thrive off this dynamic but it just exhausts me and sometimes it goes too far and it can really be damaging to a relationship over something as stupid as: “Why did you put those socks on that chair?

..BUT YOU DO NEED TO STAND UP FOR YOURSELF

If something happens that is truly unjust, you need to stand up for yourself because no one else will.

(Actually, if they did, then I’d just think you’re a cupcake because you need other people to step in to fight your battles for you, which makes me lose respect for you as an individual.)

If you don’t, you are giving people permission to walk all over you, forever.

They then assume it’s okay to treat you like that, and that’s what they’ll do. They may even go a step farther and increase the intensity of their behaviour.

If that is what you want, then you are welcome to the boxed-in world you have created for yourself.

anger-abstract-argument-fight

It’s really partly your fault because you aren’t expressing any feelings to begin with!

How can someone know how you are feeling if you don’t tell them?

We aren’t mind readers, and some of us are less sensitive to others’ personalities and emotions because we simply are lacking the ability to recognize or think about how a person would feel.


You cannot assume that someone knows what you are thinking unless you say something.

IT IS POSSIBLE TO LEARN HOW TO DO THIS

I learned it. You can too.

You don’t need to start yelling or screaming to confront anyone.

A simple request or question is enough to start a discussion so you can understand what the other person was thinking.

Think of it as a fact-finding or research mission, rather than a battle.

Even to this day, if I have a conflict or an argument (depending on severity and who/where it is), I still shake slightly when I do it.

It never goes away, but it does get easier with practice.

TIPS ON CONFRONTING OTHERS WITHOUT A BATTLE

  • Understand that they may not know what they’re doing (e.g. they come off as being harsh)
  • Calm down before saying anything (24 hours to 72 hours works well, depending on how angry you are)
  • Try and understand what the logical facts are of your situation (what exactly happened?)
  • Find a way to start the discussion (read: NOT a argument) without sparking a fight or defensiveness
  • Keep it simple and ask plainly but not angrily (e.g. “Why did you put those socks on the chair?”?)
  • Don’t try and provide excuses for them beforehand (e.g. “So maybe you did this because of X and Y, is that why?”)
  • Use silence to your advantage by posing the question and then waiting for an answer
  • Discuss it with a friend beforehand of what you are going to say (e.g. practice the confrontation)
  • Anticipate all the reactions of the person (shock, anger, embarrassment, sadness, etc)

All of these points work every time I need to deal with conflict or an argument.

It is a bit harder when you’re fighting with loved ones, but I find it a lot easier to do this in a work environment.

 


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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K (savings rate = 85%). I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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8 Comments

  1. Alicia @ Financial Diffraction

    I’ve gotten much better in voicing my opinion and standing up for myself, but I still find it intimidating being in a room of (generally) men that are all at least 15 years older than me and are used to being heard.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Hmm.. it takes practice. I used to be shy but now I’ve realized that they generally know less than I do in my field, so my opinion is valued. Plus they’re paying me $$$$ for it.

      Reply
  2. Lisa E. @ Lisa vs. the Loans

    I think I’m quite the opposite! In high school, I was incredibly confrontational and fought every battle that came my way, even if it was unnecessary. Now, I’ve become more of an ostrich, sticking my head in the sand and telling myself that arguments just aren’t worth it. I think I’ve got to find a balance between the two.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Well not all arguments are worth it. The little ones are not worth it but the big ones are… and you have to take the situation into context. Yelling at your boss is a no-no of course 😉 (as is using a double-negative in English like I just did..)

      Reply
  3. A
    AdinaJ

    I’m still working on this myself, more so in the work setting than at home. The main thing about navigating a conflict in personal life is learning to “fight fair”. Or constructively. If both people are on the same page about that, it really isn’t that bad/difficult to get through most conflicts.

    My bigger challenge is getting my being easily intimidated by authority. It a work setting, that can easily work against my own interest.

    Reply
    1. E
      E

      I agree with you about not being able to respond to authority at unreasonable situations. I fear that I have no backup and will be on their bad side. I see it often that people get promoted if they are on close to the managers and higher ups. It is very frustrating and unfair to get treated and talked down to like a child at workplace.

      Reply
      1. save. spend. splurge.

        If you assert yourself a little, you may find that they will stop looking / treating you as a child.

        Reply
    2. save. spend. splurge.

      Yes, fighting fair is the hard part. I also have to try and be very diplomatic and not bite the hand that feeds (pays?) me when I am on contract.

      Reply

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