It strikes me often that many people simply avoid conversations if they are uncomfortable. I see that in person; I hear about it from my clients and even on social media. Why? What is the concern that has people avoid them?
I always say that the two basic drivers for us, as people, are to make sure we are ‘ok’ and that we ‘belong’. Given this natural drive, when there is a conversation in which someone may disagree with us, or we know we don’t agree with them or we have differing points of view, it seems like we won’t be ok or we won’t belong, and we simply avoid it.
The problems that stem from avoiding these conversations include:
- Thwarted career trajectories when you don’t challenge the status quo or make your voice heard
- Salary negotiations which result in you not being paid what you are worth, as you are unwilling to make the case for and stand for your value
- Policies that favor some and disadvantage others do not get changed, and people are left behind or treated unfairly.
- If you are unhappy and in disagreement and do not speak up, you stay unhappy and in disagreement and nothing changes. So you are not actually comfortable anyway, just relieved of the conversation.
- You step over the things that don’t work, and they stay that way.
- Many other issues
What if you realized this: No one ever died from a conversation. You will survive that conversation even if it is uncomfortable. What would you say that you are not saying? What would you change? What would you fight for?
Look both in your professional life and in your personal life. I find that when someone avoids the discomfort, they do it all over their lives. And generally the outcome of that is someone is unhappy and frustrated.
In this current time, where we are dealing with a deadly pandemic, the further exposure of the systemic racism permeating our society, the loss of our liberty and rise of fascist behavior in our country, there are many uncomfortable conversations that need to be had.
Life, literally, is at stake.
Personally, I have been at work on my own discovery of the depths of my white privilege, which I did not earn, but was granted by birth. I have been at work on how I can use that privilege to positively impact those that, through no act of their own, were not granted that privilege and in fact, suffer from what society has done and continues to do to them (due to being born black or brown or in another country or with their sexual orientation). I take actions that I see to take, including having uncomfortable conversations both in writing (like this) and with others. My discomfort may save a life in the future and affect the quality of life for others. I am willing to do that. Will you join me in that?
I could say much and likely will in future posts about all those topics, but mostly I want to challenge you to look in all aspects of your life and discover where you are holding back. Where are you avoiding having conversations because they are uncomfortable? What is that avoidance costing you? What is it costing others? Then know you can do it, you won’t die from that, but you will gain much. And go speak up. Say what there is to say. Stand there and let your voice be heard.
Let me know how that goes!
P.S. Please wear a mask and protect your fellow humans from this deadly virus. Stay safe and take care!