Mistake #3: Avoiding Confrontation


Excuse me, you there, hiding in the corner – yes, we know you’re avoiding confrontation. Let’s talk about the more subtle ways we sabotage our success by avoiding tough conversations and situations.

This is the third installment in the series 8 Mistakes Men Don’t Make. Today’s topic is, clearly, avoiding confrontation. There are so many ways women (and men!) do this. If you’re hiding behind your email, not getting into the meat of an issue, or settling for less than what you want and deserve, you’ll be less than optimally effective. What’s worse, you will lose valuable respect.

Avoiding Face-to-Face Contact

It is getting easier do your job with less and less sharing of real-time words. But is that the right thing to do? Email is great. Depending on how many people are in the conversation, it can be extremely efficient. It allows you to do some pretty serious CYA-ing if need be. And it can be a time saver. (Or not, but that’s another post.)

Despite all the benefits, communicating exclusively in writing is also passive. It’s also not that comprehensive. Think about how much non-verbal (non-word) communication you’re missing when you avoid face to face conversations. Tone of voice and body language are so much more important than the actual words spoken or written.

Can You Leave it in the Boardroom?

Guys have an awesome ability to come *this* close to blows (or in the case of friends and brothers, to actual blows) and then walk away to share a laugh over a beer as if nothing happened. Why does this work? Because they got whatever was bothering them out into the open and everybody had their say. It may not have been pretty, but once it’s out there – well, there it is.

When you avoid confrontation, the outcomes expected in a given situation can be unclear. By failing to tackle the nasty details, small annoyances fester into large scale frustrations. When you face challenges head on you actually make it easier on yourself because you only have to deal with the challenge at hand, not all the ancillary garbage that is created when you pretend the tough stuff isn’t really there.

Settling For Less

Anyone who is uncomfortable in difficult conversations (aka negotiations) is almost always going to get less than the merit of their work deserves. No, it’s not fair. It’s business. Confrontation can feel yucky. Fine – accept it. The sooner you do, and the sooner you train yourself to welcome that discomfort, the sooner you find that you’re getting more of what you want – in your business and  personal lives.

One of the worst things about avoiding confrontation is that it can get you labeled as passive agressive, manipulating quietly in the background to get your way. And that label almost never ups your worth.

Image Credit: lelia thomas, Flickr