In the post Grow A Pair! Overcoming Your Fear of Confrontation, I wrote about the fact that confrontation doesn’t have to be ugly. I explained that the act of confronting someone should be done with the mindset of achieving a win-win outcome and outlined steps on how to make that happen. And many of you wrote to me letting me know that you liked this new definition of confrontation and that you would be so happy to implement it, if only the idea of confrontation, peaceful or not, didn’t make you break out in hives/night sweats/ panic attacks/ projectile vomiting. Although this issue is by no means confined to those with two X chromosomes, women, in particular, have a hard time seeing themselves as someone who confronts others, especially when it comes to their own needs.
You may have no problem standing up for your kids or little brother, but when it comes to telling your husband or wife that you’d really rather not go to see the in-laws for your vacation this year, you clam up. You may be able to handle even the toughest vendor at work, but asking for a raise makes you curl up in the fetal position. Perhaps the idea of talking to an employee who has been disrupting the work environment with his negativity leaves you hyperventilating, and so you don’t do it, to the detriment of your entire team. When your teenage son’s grades start slipping, you want to talk to him but the anticipation of his surly, hormone induced response makes you postpone the conversation until you’ve let it go to the point where it would be ridiculous to say something. Or, perhaps you do voice your concerns, but only ever once you’ve become so fed up that your confrontations more closely resemble a deranged elephant stomping a Chihuahua to death rather than an actual, productive conversation.
You don’t have to use Gorilla tactics (yes, gOrilla)
There’s another fallacy at play here, one that states that you have to be warrior like in order to stand up for yourself. Blame it on your role models, or rather, the lack thereof. For most of us (who were born pre-1990), our main examples of people standing up for themselves routinely came from men. And these men were raised to be tough hombres, not touchy feely, sensitive guys, but order barking, respect demanding, authoritarian, sucker bunching, britches wearing, table pounding men who put people in their place. Women, on the other hand, either didn’t stand up for themselves at all, or had to act just like those aggressive men in order to do so. And while men’s behavior was excused as being “assertive” and “necessarily aggressive”, women who acted like that were called something else: bitches. Bottom line, the idea of asking for what you want became inextricably linked to the equivalent of thumping your chest and issuing threats.
And if you weren’t comfortable barking your demands at people, well, though shitsky. You either learned to fake it, or you simply tucked your tail between your legs and hoped for the best. Like the runt of the litter, you’d wait for the scraps because you weren’t willing to get into a bloody fight for the meaty bits. But all the while, your own needs weren’t being met. Your opinion, no matter how valuable, went unheard. Your contributions went unappreciated. You may have even gotten to the point where you felt like you didn’t really have much value to begin with.
My warrior woman days
When I got my first big restaurant management job, I was 19 years old, still in college and green as can be. Oh, I knew how to work in a restaurant, I could pretty much do any job you’d ask me to do, but I had no idea how to manage or deal with people. I was intensely insecure, eager to prove myself, and armed with a fierce, A-Type, hyper energetic, warrior mentality. I was ready to fight the good fight and boy did I. Not only had I grown up with an authoritarian, male role model, all the managers I had ever worked with were cut from the same cloth: they barked orders, screamed at employees and expected shit to get done. So, I did the same thing (sands the screaming. I have never been a screamer), only it didn’t really work for me. Not only did I feel awful about treating people with so little respect, but my employees hated me. HATED me. With a freaking vengeance. Clearly, there had to be a better way.
Well, there was, but it took me years of trial and error to figure it out. And even then, I was never really 100% comfortable in my own skin until I had the absolute honor and pleasure of working for a manager unlike any I’d ever encountered before. I was working in Las Vegas, as a dealer in a casino. Never mind the old boys’ club. This is the Goodfellas’ club and female managers in this environment will generally become tough, leathery broads who look like they could crush your skull with two fingers and would rather chew glass dipped in lemon juice than wear a dress and high heels. But not Karen. She was amazing.
- Never screamed at people. In fact, she always talked softly, gently and respectfully.
- Never told anyone to do something. She always asked them to do it. No one ever refused.
- Was feminine. She dressed like a woman, not in boxy suits but in flow-y skirts and blouses that flattered her figure and made her look soft and beautiful.
- Was kind and compassionate. She really listened to people, even their personal problems and truly cared about them.
- Had her employees’ backs. She protected her staff whenever necessary.
- Never lost her cool. Not once. She was always calm and sweet.
- She was incredibly competent, and she knew it, but never felt like she had anything to prove.
- She removed obstacles from her employees’ way, instead of expecting them to work around them and deliver results.
- Was highly respected by everyone. No one messed with her, but not because they feared her – because they loved her.
THIS was the type of manager I wanted to be. Hell, this was the type of woman I wanted to be. Karen showed me that my “feminine” characteristics, what I had considered my weaknesses before, were actually my greatest strengths. I could be feminine and strong. I could be nice, compassionate, kind and still stand up for what I believed. I could wear heels and nail polish and still be respected. And, she showed me a way of standing up for others and myself in a way that didn’t feel bitchy. Did I master it immediately? No. I still fell back on my warrior persona from time to time, particularly when I felt threatened, but overall, I became a hell of a lot more effective at asking for, and receiving, what I wanted.
Karen showed me that being strong and standing up for yourself has nothing to do with thumping your chest or how loudly you can scream. It has everything to do with believing in yourself, your cause and your own value. In other words, it all starts with your mindset. Go figure.
You have to first believe two things:
- That you or whoever you’re standing up for, deserves to get what you’re asking for
- That there is a way for you to achieve your goal. In other words, that it is possible for you to get what you want.
Once you’ve achieved the “I believe that I deserve this and will get it” mindset, you emanate a confidence that’s not to be missed, even by the most brutish of opponents.
Second, you’ll want to practice something that I like to call Quiet Strength.
- You don’t have to raise your voice to be heard. Speak quietly and the other person will have to shut up to hear you.
- You don’t have to feel threatened by your “opponent”, even if they start to scream at you. The fact that they’re screaming means that they feel threatened by you.
- You don’t have to thump your chest or threaten. Just believe in your cause and don’t back down.
- Be a diplomat. Listen to people. Really listen. What is your “opponent” afraid of? What assurances or resources will they need in order to give you what you want? Turn them from an opponent into a partner – come up with a win-win compromise.
- Speak from the heart. Tell people what you REALLY want, not what you think you need in order to get what you want. Tell them why you want it. Be honest and authentic and you’ll give them permission to be authentic, as well.
- Don’t demand that people help you, ask them to do it. You’ll be amazed at the response you’ll get when you make this small but incredibly important change.
- Don’t fight. Don’t get defensive. Don’t raise your voice. Listen and show them you care. But don’t back down. Speak with compassion and love. But don’t back down.
- You don’t have to yell “no” to mean it. You just can’t change your answer to “yes”.
- Don’t give up. If one person can’t give you what you want, go to another. I once spent three weeks knocking on the doors of very senior executives, asking them to support a project that was very important to me. Many said no. I just kept trying. Then, one said yes and I got all the support I needed.
Now, I’m not saying that the brutish style of confrontation can’t be effective. Of course, you can bully people into giving you what you want. You can intimidate and threaten, or manipulate and connive, but at what cost? Have you ever seen a happy bully? Have you ever seen a dictator whose subjects loved him, or who wasn’t reviled by his “allies” and enemies alike, and whose life wasn’t constantly in jeopardy?
If you’ve never felt comfortable acting like a big ape and pounding your fist on the table to express yourself, that doesn’t make you weak. It means that this method isn’t the most effective for you. You’re allowed to care. Deeply. You’re allowed to follow your instincts. You’re allowed to be who you really are. And when you figure out how to be authentic, and how to practice Quiet Strength, you can be more effective than any drill sergeant. Much more.
You don’t have to fight to be strong. You can be compassionate and kind. You don’t have to yell. You can move mountains with soft words. Strength doesn’t come from brute force. It doesn’t come from a loud, booming voice. It doesn’t come from threats or having a big personality. It doesn’t come from dominating. It comes from not backing down when you really care about something, from believing in yourself and your cause, and knowing that you can get it, even if you’re not yet sure how that’s going to happen. And real strength, the kind that changes the world, comes from doing so without being a bully.
Wow. What an amazing article which has come at a time when I’m learning to remain compassionate and stand up for myself, being my authentic self. Thank you.
I still believe its the other way round. When we shift our energy, we learn to interact with others in a better way. In some other blog, Melody has written how people can elicit a different version from others by changing their energy, changing internally; however Melody wrote, many women try to get a different version of their boyfriends by changing behavior externally, through action, which doesn’t work. I have followed what Melody taught me and I have seen I didn’t try any external method but energy and people changed like a dream.
These are universal laws; its always as within so without. Melody only taught me we manifest via our vibration. As long as our vibration doesn’t change, our reality wont change.
But when someone has a strong desire to change external reality, then some external techniques may come up. Like doing diet may be a way to lose weight when one is aligned; but when one is not aligned and one doesn’t deal with fears, then even the method one manifests may not necessarily be the best one.
Melody has written in blogs after blogs about NOT trying to do it the intellectual way. In a response to a reader, Melody asked the reader to energetically line up with a good version of a day rather than intellectually.
Melody’s blog itself says how this entire teaching is all contrary to what society teaches and masses believe. I deeply appreciate all teachings about changing the internal and changing the energy to get what we want.
The whole point about going to different executives for getting something approved – this is so much contrary to what Melody says in other posts; like following hunch, intuition etc. However there was a post about Melody sending love to some people who were sort of annoying her and how immediately just sending love cleared everything easily. That is appreciable!
In yet another post about debt, I tried the external method, of calling up my bank and telling them I cant pay the installment – this was an external method Melody had written about. That backfired bigtime. The bank people screwed me. Then I tried the other Melody method – opening all doors of money and gratitude. Immediately, it all cleared up and I was able to pay the money to them easily.
I was suffering from intense power shortages at home for hours together for months and I was suffering like hell and Melody’s energy teaching helped me manifest uninterrupted power supply and I was able to escape the heat after months of intense suffering, simply by shifting my beliefs. My father had ordered for an inverter to make sure there are no power shortages – however due to my shift in energy, there are simply no power shortages and my father is complaining, instead of getting benefited, he lost his money as there are no power shortages now. My father had lined up with losing money and he got that 🙂
I stand and vouch my life by all Melody’s energy methods – they have helped me immensely and still help me. I consider Melody to the best energy teacher I have ever seen. Melody’s teachings about energy works amazingly. However I don’t agree with any of the external methods here.
Maybe Melody has spoiled me so much I can no longer do anything physically. I only do things energetically. I have sort of stopped cooking and even shopping – even for my basic necessities I use the energy method and the results are amazing. So all kudos to Melody’s energy methods that work like a magic, only they work; not external teachings. That is my experience. And honest opinion.
Usually I don’t disagree with Melody’s posts; however in this one I beg to disagree. I have tried both aggressiveness and calmness; however, with or without knowing LOA, I knew and saw only my prayers worked and nothing else. There were many things I couldn’t ask for openly, like a new laptop, my desire to do a tradeshow in a far away place, opportunity to do what I wanted, a hefty raise and many more… none of the external methods worked. But when I prayed, EVERYTHING worked like a dream. So I didn’t even have to worry about what others think and how I should react. So I don’t really feel its the external behavior, but internal motivation and feelings are those that matter.
When you feel good about yourself, all right actions will come, whether it be being aggressive when it is necessary or being sweet when required. I also don’t believe doing external stuff, like make-up and heels and skirts makes a woman feminine or being externally tough makes a man masculine. external calmness doesnt make one strong and external loudness doesn’t make one weak. People see WAY beyond that. Melody only taught me people see our energy and respond to that. I also don’t believe doing external stuff, like make-up and heels and skirts makes a woman feminine or being externally tough makes a man masculine. external calmness doesnt make one strong and external loudness doesn’t make one weak. People see WAY beyond that. Melody only taught me people see our energy and respond to that.
I totally totally don’t agree with these external measures; just as much as Melody has written how one can not stop smoking or lose weight simply by external measures, I feel one doesnt even have to stand up for oneself when one is aligned. When our energy changes, then we dont have to try and I have seen it happen in my life for YEARS!!!
No worries, you’re welcome to disagree. But keep in mind that not everyone resonates with the same methods. For some people, learning how to interact differently with others in a more active way, is precisely what allows them to shift their energy. For many people in Western society, the mind has taken on such an overreaching role, that we have to develop techniques that work with the intellect. In other words, we use methods that allow our minds to be part of the process. A purely energetic process is the fastest way to go, but that path isn’t always open to people. And when it isn’t, we use other techniques. That’s why I offer different ones. The techniques I taught you were the ones that were right for you. Others may need something else. But it all leads to the same result. 🙂
This is a great post. But I wonder, how do you get people to respect you with this form of assertion?
Believe it or not, when you set firm boundaries, you begin to respect yourself more. And then, others will automatically respect you (and you only attract those who do). It’s not about them. It’s about you.
My problem is, other than growing up with a mother who fought with everyone, and an abusive boyfriend for 8 years after that, is I don’t know how to handle it when you do confront them and you are polite and they turn around and lie to your face. People, especially men, seem to know they can run me right over and just lie when they are confronted. I then blow up, and I know I shouldn’t, but I don’t know what to do and I get flustered at that point. Thanks for your help.
If someone lies right to your face, you have a couple of options:
1. Walk away. Yes really. And I know that’s scary, but being willing to walk away is a MAJOR signal to yourself that you are not willing to put up with just anything.
2.) Calmly and kindly say to the person: “Why do you feel that you need to lie to me? You can tell me the truth. What’s really going on here?”. Your tone of voice will have everything to do with how this is received. Stay calm and say it like you really want to know, encouraging them to share. You cannot be defensive here.
If someone totally wigs out on you, ignore them. Walk away and treat them the same you would if they were a child throwing a tantrum. Don’t reward that kind of behavior by engaging. Just go do something else. When they’re ready to talk to you on your terms, they can let you know.
Also, if someone is constantly lying to you or manipulating you, you need to get the hell out.
I hope that’s helpful.
thank you for this.
i have a question. as someone who recently had multiple confrontations with a colleague/friend who crossed my physical boundaries, i found it very difficult to practice quiet strength. the first – second times i confronted him, i was mindful, compassionate — and his responses were to become more aggressive, not less. by the fifth time i confronted him, his behavior transgressed boundaries so far that they legally would be considered sexual assault. by the end, even when i very directly stated that i was reporting him, that i did not care to be friends, that i did not care to have any type of relationship with him at all, but that i did see some very positive qualities in his demeanor, he did what he always did, which was to minimize the situation by telling me i was being dramatic, and then throwing the blame back on me, suggesting that i enjoyed his attention and wanted something more than friendship.
how does one handle a situation like this? by the time an action crosses a line so severely and quiet strength has proven ineffective, perhaps the only alternative is to be aggressive…or to walk away. i wound up leaving my job with nothing lined up, and despite my complaint, he was able to keep his job, keep his relationship, keep his friends.
Sometimes, it’s best to just let it go and walk away. It sounds to me like you were really fighting something, an injustice, to be sure, but something within yourself. You were trying to be right, and that’s understandable, but you can’t force others to see that you’re right. You have to first be satisfied that YOU knowing it is enough.
In a situation that ugly, it’s usually better to get out and then regroup. Try to figure out what was really being triggered here. Look back at the beginning, before it got really bad, and see what emotions were coming up. There is a strong belief of powerlessness being reflected back at you. Getting out was already a really empowering move, so was standing up for yourself. But there’s an element still left to clear. I’m sorry, I can’t tell you what it is from just this paragraph, but it’s there.
In the meantime, focus on what kind of job environment you want, and start creating your dream job. You can line up with that very quickly. 🙂
I found this article very helpful, I really did! I have been struggling for YEARS because I use to be called a bitch all the time (I have a hot-temper and a hormone imbalance didn’t help) I use to voice my opinions and do so in a reasonable fashion, but then my self-confidence took hit after hit until I absolutely hated and doubted myself (for almost ten years now, we’re slowly working on that) I flare up over the smallest things and over think people’s tone of voice. I can usually go into a confrontation calm but soon find my voice filled with venom when thinks barely heat up. So needless to say I avoid confrontation like the plague, but this is only hurting me. If I were to put all this into a question it would be something like, “What are some extra steps a hot-head like me could take to help remain calm? (and) Should I follow other people’s advise of “It’s not a big deal, just get over it and move on” when it just makes me angrier over the issue?”
My advice would be to figure out why you get so upset in the first place. You can’t just get over it, if you’re having a strong reaction, but you’re never having that kind of reaction over something small. There’s always a different, hidden cause that you’ve associated with the thing you’re reacting to, to which that kind of reaction actually makes sense. If you have a severe temper, you probably have an underlying self-worth issue. This isn’t a quick fix, but you can do it. Dissect one issue at a time and figure out what you were really reacting to. Don’t beat up on yourself for overreacting. Again, when you find what you were REALLY reacting to, it will make sense.
“You don’t have to feel threatened by your “opponent”, even if they start to scream at you. The fact that they’re screaming means that they feel threatened by you.”
Hey Melody, can you explain how exactly they are threatened by the person they are chest thumping at?
Because in some cases it seems the chest thumpers pick the LEAST threatening of people to chest thump at.
I know you’ve done posts on confrontation and authority- but could you please go into bullies from school, workplace, places of leisure and the anatomy of a bully in specific to further clarify this common personality type.
Because in nearly every group there will be one or more chest thumpers male or female.
Also of interest was what you said about females and dress codes. It does seem these chest thumping females are deathly afraid of looking feminine or are feminine in an almost dominatrix-style manner (not the soft, flowing skirts and blouses you describe) with very pointed heels and harsh make-up.
Or simply not wearing dresses or heels at all and being very manly.
That’s another point…why is “feminine” associated with weakness. If a man is graceful and retains his dignity he must be “gay”
Very interesting, think all this about bullies and difficult people does need further exploration; as does gender roles.
I actually went into the anatomy of a bully in this post: http://www.deliberateblog.com/2012/08/21/dear-loa-is-the-new-world-order-really-a-threat/
I’ve found that people react to how you view yourself. I’ve known effeminate, gay men who were anything but weak and no one treated them as though they were. Their confidence was apparent. I’ve known big, strapping men who got walked over routinely.
There was a time in my life that I got bullied routinely. I was incredibly self critical and that was mirrored back to me. Then, I shifted, and felt more confident and others’ behavior toward me changed drastically.
One such example:
I remember I had a job in a casino and was always afraid of the bosses (some would way with very good reason…) They were rude and threatening towards me and pretty much everyone else (a few were weirdly immune…). Then, one day, I realized I didn’t need the job anymore, because I had enough savings in my account to last me at least 6 months. I was no longer afraid of losing my job. In fact, I decided that if it came down to it, I’d rather quit than be abused.
I kid you not, that very day, they started to treat me like an equal. They joked around with me, included me in inside jokes and treated me with respect. That was one of the first inklings I got of just how powerful this work is… But honestly, I’m not sure if I’d have believed it if it hadn’t happened to me personally. It was truly astounding.
I’ve just listened to the call you posted about confrontation which had actually answered a lot of my questions, probably should have listened to it first!
I think my main reason for the letter is that I have virtually no contact with this person and I wanted to reach out in some way and let them know that I love them and that hopefully, when we’re both ready, we can work together to find a resolution. Yes the aim was to make us both feel better. It’s been a huge problem for the whole family for a very long time now and I just wanted to try and do something, you know? But the more I think about it, I’m not entirely comfortable with the letter. I’m thinking a lot about those visualisations right now….
Your insight is most appreciated.
Scaly lizard hugs! (I’m allergic to fluffy things, lizards provide a perfectly good alternative, honest!)
That’s great! You’ve recognized your discomfort with what you were trying to do, because it wasn’t going to lead you to your actual goal – to feel better. Feel better first and your reality, including your family, will have to change to match that new reality.
Lizard hugs! Yay! Have you seen “Tangled”? There’s a really cute lizard in there. I could see having a pet like that… 😛
Huge hugs of the variety that is most perfect for you,
I was wondering if this approach includes confronting someone in writing? There’s an ongoing issue relating mainly to one family member and I’m in the process of writing a letter explaining my point of view and expressing my forgiveness and that my intentions were never to cause hurt. I’m avoiding the ‘you did this to me, and said that’ kind of approach as it goes against what I’m trying to achieve. We’ve talked before and I ended up crying for 2 days straight thinking I was such a bad person when I know I’m not (although I appreciate that I could have done things differently) hence the letter rather than talking on the phone or face-to-face. I’m wary of the response I will get and that’s making me keep the whole thing fairly vague but positive.
I have a question for you:
Why are you writing this letter? Are you doing it so that you can feel better? You don’t need to involve them to feel better (in fact, it’s better if you don’t). Do you need them to do anything, say anything or realize anything so that you can feel better? Are you trying to make THEM feel better (and why do you need that to happen?)
It feels very much like you’re trying to force something here. So, what is it that you’re trying to achieve?
I found this post by chance from googling some key words. I thought I might find something in here that I could use as tips – but instead I guess I just realized that I’m already all these qualities – but I don’t know why I’m so freakin afraid to say it. I hate not being able to proudly say I’m good at something without being afraid that people will think I’m being arrogant. People don’t really mess with me and I’m often complimented as sincere and genuine. But my question is how do I deal with people thinking I’M the bitch for standing up for myself? I try not to let others’ opinions affect me so much because I know I haven’t done anything wrong. People just get bitchy and pissy when I hold them accountable for their actions and they don’t like it. But when people start giving me shit because I ‘stirred up the pot’ by not being a push over – it really hurts and it really sucks. I’m tired of people always expecting me to play nice when the favor isn’t returned. I have a lot of patience but it is really annoying when I see something wrong and instead of getting support to stop it – I get told to turn the other cheek? What do you think?
Welcome to Deliberate Receiving!
First of all, you can’t really control other people’s reactions. If they are going to get offended or bent out of shape because you’re honoring yourself more than them, there’s not much you can do about it. You can mitigate that reaction by staying calm, not getting upset yourself, being compassionate (it’s not a fight) and staying open to compromise (on those things you are willing to compromise on).
One thing you can do is to reframe situations after the fact. Let’s say that you had an argument or heated discussion with a coworker, where you stood your ground and he didn’t like it. The whole thing felt really off to you and you’re a bit upset. Once you’ve calmed down, go back to that scenario in your mind, and then reframe it until it feels better. Actually change what happened. Change how you reacted, what you said, how you felt about what he said… ultimately, as you adjust your vibration, it will change his reaction, as well. First, in your mind (you are actually shifting the energy around that situation when you do this. You are changing your own vibration and he will start to react to that), and then in real life, future scenarios.
I’ll give you an example: He said “Why are you so selfish? You have to do what’s best for the company!” and you felt awful.
So, you try to figure out how you felt, exactly. What was the emotion and where did it actually come from? Perhaps (just for example) you’re afraid that if everyone doesn’t approve of you, that it means that you’re not actually good enough to be there. And so, his words triggered an underlying fear of not being good enough, which felt horrible.
You could then try to imagine how you might’ve reacted if that trigger wasn’t present. What would you have said, if his remarks didn’t feel bad to you? Perhaps you would’ve seen that he was frustrated, that he had expected to easily get his way and because he didn’t, now he has some work to do. You could see clearly how he was depending on your reaction to make him feel good (do as I want you to do so I can feel good) and THIS is why your refusal to play along is causing him to lash out. You could revisit your reasons for saying no, validating them as you go. Then, you could calmly and compassionately explain (this is all in your head) those reasons to him. “I understand that you’re upset, but if I took t his project on right now, on top of all the other work I already have, I wouldn’t be able to give it the attention it deserves. And I refuse to do substandard work. I appreciate the opportunity (this softens the situation a bit. He’ll be less defensive if you give him the idea that you’d like to help, but can’t), but I’m afraid I’m going to have to sit this one out.”
If you can find a way to react to a past situation that makes you feel better, you will have shifted the energy. Do this argument by argument and your reality will change very quickly. 🙂
Thanks for the vote of confidence, Melody! You’re right that I tend to react with the opposite of yelling. When I’m really upset about something and peaceful discussion isn’t working, I get quieter and quieter. If the person can’t shut up long enough to listen attentively, I leave – politely, but I leave.
Back to your comment, I agree that it doesn’t pay to be a total wallflower, but I think if you’re uncomfortable singing your own praises, you can still succeed and prosper. It’s important, for example, to speak up in meetings and get your excellent ideas out in public under your own name. To me, that’s not singing – it’s putting your work on display. A little different and maybe more comfortable for some people, including me. I sometimes think of a work product as a child, and I’ll do everything to promote, protect, and advance that child!
Success can also come from quietly persisting until you find/create a work environment where you are both comfortable and openly appreciated.
Hugs! Sleep tight, no oops, you’re waking up… have a great day!
Memory lane post for me, Melody. Relishing retirement — yeah!!
In my executive days I think/hope I was kind of a Karen. It always seemed easier to me to persuade people than to browbeat them. Anyone who ever raised their voice at me didn’t get a second chance, and I just figured everyone felt that way.
I once headed a committee of 32 school principals, talk about herding cats! But we came to consensus and created a computer literacy model that I’m still proud of today. The key is to have a goal (as in DR: this or something better), and listen carefully, very carefully. The payoff: when you work with people and treat their ideas with genuine respect, the end result is always superior to what you could have achieved on your own.
Highly aggressive people in the workplace can rise very quickly, but may fall just as fast. A person of quiet, steady competence may rise a little more slowly, but over time the ‘important people’ will recognize and reward her true value. Example (true story, not me): An unflashy effective employee quietly took a job at different company because of an unworkable mid-level boss. VP of the original company (who the employee thought had no idea who she was) personally invited her to return at any time, with choice of position and supervisor.
Which brings up the point of not burning bridges… Perhaps another post?
Thanks once again for a thought-provoking read, Melody. Hugs and namaste,
Hi Mary Carol,
I’m almost certain that you’ve got the whole Quiet Strength thingy down pat. I can’t imagine you yelling at anyone or losing your cool.
This is a bit off topic (maybe), but your comment makes me want to point out that there is something to be said for singing your own praises, especially in a corporation. I would never recommend someone quietly plod along in the hopes that someone will notice. You don’t have to be an aggressive asshole to let people know what you’re doing, but you have to speak up or you will almost certainly get passed over time and time again. That’s my experience anyway. Yeah… that might be another post. The beauty about LOA is it’s applicable to anything, so no topic is really out of bounds. Ha.
“eager to prove myself, and armed with a fierce, A-Type, hyper energetic, warrior mentality.”
SEE? That’s why I thought your index finger might be shorter.
Anyway… I kind of feel like the second type you mentioned. The ones that have to do the gorilla-thumping thing to deal with something.
I mean, I never cause problems in the first place, and while I would never want to be a manager, if I were, I would be kind, but I don’t have much tolerance for other people causing nonsense in my life – especially at the workplace.
There was someone at my new job being kind of rude to me because I’m, well, new, and I found myself thinking about how much actually want the job – mainly because, I know I’d get fired if I punched him in the face, but I thought it might be worth it.
Except it’s not. That’s a stupid decision. I’ve already told management, but if it continues, I’ll just make it clear that he shouldn’t continue his actions. A friendlier kind of approach probably wouldn’t work here. This isn’t like an office job or anything, where people at least have to pretend to not be assholes.
Lol, we shall see.
LOL. You know what? In your mail, you asked me if my index finger was shorter than my pinkie. And now you mentioned it again, I thought “who has a freakish hand like that??”, so I googled it (for, um, research purposes. Also, cause I kind of like freaky stuff…) and it turns out that the indicator is if your index finger is shorter than your RING finger, which mine is, actually, but just slightly. So, I guess your theory was right. Damn you Fred Tracy *shakes manly fist*.
I would ask you this: why are you attracting an asshole coworker into your life, eh? He’s clearly triggering something in you, or you wouldn’t have the urge to punch him. Clean that crap up and send him some love and you either won’t see him again, or he’ll act nicer.
Right. I can’t stop staring at my hands now…
What? Did I say pinky? Yeah, that would be weird. I KNEW you had a shorter index finger. I feel like I know so many things about you because of this little tidbit. If you were here, I would be snickering at you.
Yeah, I seem to keep manifesting aggressive-type males of my life. I think the lesson is to become more loving. Or to learn Brazilian jujitsu. Maybe both.
You definitely don’t have to fight to be strong. I think it takes a lot of self control though to keep yourself from yelling when you confront someone you’re angry with. I try to practice my quiet strength everyday and even though it’s been an uphill battle I have noticed I’m getting better everyday.
Welcome to Deliberate Receiving! Actually, if you confront your anger before having the conversation, it’s much easier not to let the confrontation turn ugly. The post I referenced in the first sentence of this one explains how to do this in detail. 🙂
Thanks for the comment!
Interesting to hear from someone who is practically experienced in the subject, hi Melody!
As we are still moved by our archaic, biological motives in our social lifes, the issue of asserting onself implicates many other questions. To me it´s not really about finding a diplomatic or a smooth way to settle the matter in everyones accordance, but often a question of staying subjective and honest. If I had a kind of managing job (where I were responsible and had to instruct or deal with people effectively), I would probably fail miserably.
Often there is a conflict of interests, almost always an imbalance in power existing. So people act according to what they perceive as the least evil, consciously or unconsciously, not really according to their acknowledgement.
Of course it´s nice to have a considerate, friendly boss, rather than a choleric bully (which requires a psychopathic mind not to get sick from), but ultimately we feel manipulated anyway, if someone tries to have her/his way. There are always situations, where we face an collision of interests, and then we have to decide how to behave.., risking our popularity and charisma… This also applies in private contexts.
Things have to be done, and therefore hirarchies and responsibilities established. People want to be treated with fairness and recognition and there are many concepts of managerial skills to make things work to their optimum.
Still I don´t believe that Karen loved all her employees, and therefore was loved by them, etc. You can´t just adopt certain qualties of behaviour and get things right, people will recognize you. Best get it straight, make things clear, including iniquities and social imbalances, telling people how its gonna work, friendly or stark, leaving it up to them to decide. (Of course, noone ever would hire me as a manager.., though I like people and carry the knife in my mouth, I would resign sometime due to my weaknesses.. )
I’m not so sure you’d fail miserably. You’re direct and honest and that goes a long way… 🙂
I think people in general, but especially in situations like corporations, tend to act out of fear – specifically to avoid pain and discomfort. There’s a pervasive belief that if you get something, if you “win”, someone else has to lose. So there’s this atmosphere of competition instead of cooperation. That’s at the heart of a lot of what goes wrong in big companies.
Sure, Karen had a lot of other skills, but I only wanted to highlight the fact that she was able to handle confrontations without rubbing people the wrong way. I’m sure I’ll do a post of management in the future, and that will highlight a lot of the other parameters. It wasn’t only that she cared, but that was one important aspect. What was so important for me was to see a very different way of handling conflict. A much softer way, and actually more effective than the “old” way of doing battle.
.. thanks for your reply! I´d like to add something here, because this subject really gives me a hard time for a long time: how to overcome existential threats, situations beyond our general approach of releasing fear and resistance (beyond, because we really feel paralysed and unable to resolve the situation mentally/emotionally; but really feel trapped and powerless, we perform the survival mode). There have to be more answers beside the one about trying to correct our view on things (which might ultimately work for some). As a race on this planet we haven´t even solved fundamental needs for shelter, supply, safety and freedom satisfactorily, we have approximated those issues the best we could – that´s why LOA stroke us collectively these days…, and we try hard to gain our satisfaction through our new understandig of the universe.
In my experience we have to be extremely flexible in our approach to situations, we need to keep track with our instincts and stay open and in an admitting state to whatever occurs in our life. And sharing what we experience is an excellent way for all of us to grow into the answers and feel connected at the same time (that´s why I enjoy my participation here so much!)
Of course! I do agree that sharing our experiences is incredibly valuable. That’s one of the reasons I started this blog… and the main reason why I so love the people I’m attracting. People like you, who are willing to share. 🙂
Handling arguments takes a lot of strength. Being able to seek out win-win and listening are great strengths in a person.
Thanks so much for your comment. I don’t actually think it takes as much strength as we think it does. Once a person has stood up for themselves using quiet strength instead of using battle mode, they’ll generally realize it takes a lot less out of them than fighting does… But it does take courage and confidence. 🙂
In all things, be yourself.
Melody, in school we used to say,”It’s them, not us.” I have been on the losing end more often than not when it came to office politics, but that was not because I was wrong every time – often, it was that I was out of alignment with the organization. Sometimes that’s a good thing. So, when we stand up for ourselves but the culture is one of immorality, underhandedness, gossip, falsehood, or “kill or be killed,” it’s best not to be sorry when our best efforts don’t work out. There are times when you cannot win but you can perhaps get out.
In the end, being true to yourself is the only thing.
That’s very true. I think theoretically, you can definitely create any situation anywhere. You first have to get clear on what you REALLY want (the core of it), though. But I’ve definitely been in a situation where I wasn’t able to shift while there. I had to get out first and was then able to finally feel better. Some relationships are like that, too. Bottom line: be true to who you are. 🙂
I have used Nonviolent communication skills with great success but one really has to let go of the outcome and want the other person to do what they have to do – detach…and that was so hard to do with my children….I do not like to confront people so I practice what I need to say and having the nvc format was so helpful.
The point where is gets confusing for me, is when folks attack me or my personhood /capabilities….I have a hard time separating and saying “that is there stuff” – one time I was able to say inside my head over and over “yes vomit that anger out”
It is the passive- aggressive control freak stuff that just feels so disrespectful and bleak – I just have to work and work at it from so many angles….then let go
Great post…and we should all be Karens at the moment of confrontation by practicing before…and would it not be lovely to experience a Karen in each of our lives?
Too true. You can’t need this particular person to give you what you want. If they can’t or won’t, go to someone else, or figure out another way (if it’s in a relationship). A lot of that is taken care of, though, when we first figure out what we REALLY want, instead of asking for what we think we need. Practicing before hand is a great tool as well. Thanks for adding these awesome tips!
What a practical post. I love that! I struggle with being assertive – sometimes I feel like people end up walking all over me and then I hold in how I feel so long that I end up exploding (like the gorilla you mentioned lol). I’m working on finding the balance of asking for what I want and not being so concerned about people pleasing. Thanks for this post to get me on my way 🙂
Thank you for your wonderful feedback. Think about the last time someone asked you for help. I don’t mean, manipulated you in some way, but directly asked you. Did you resent it? Did it bother you? Or were you maybe even happy for a chance to help? There’s nothing wrong with asking someone for something, as long as it’s done in the right way. 🙂