I’ve never been known as a terrific communicator. I’m conflict averse, because when I get involved it’s 100% or nothing at all.
Generally it’s not worth the stress, so I clam up, and if I don’t like what’s happening, I move on. OR, worse – I mumble and steam under my breath which tends to raise my blood pressure, encourage bourbon consumption, and generally make me not very pretty to be around.
In plain speak, I disengage.
I’m learning just how dangerous disengaging can be, thanks to a few wonderful older women whom mentor me without even realizing it.
I’m also learning how dangerous over-engagement can be when you remain powerless to effect change.
I have more than a few pals who are also poor communicators. Generally, it’s accepted to be good form that if you are extended a greeting or invitation that you should reply, even if it’s in the negative.
Ah, there’s the rub my sweet little plums. The negative. We’re not so great with the negative stuff, and generally as women, expressing anything perceived as anger, resistance or persistence, labels us as bitches, selfish, or mean.
I have to tell you that my experience has been that the muck is where the good stuff grows. I’ve learned that through my professional experience, and in personal relationships. Sure, it’s dark, and scary, but if you don’t go there, you’ll never know what can grow.
Women who can pitch a fit in a calm way, with a level voice, and organized thoughts still get labeled selfish bitches by the weak and ignorant. That’s generally the case for business, but I believe we have a long way to go when it comes to our personal relationships.
Unlike professional relationships, personal relationships come glued to an intricate web of emotions. After all, these are relationships that have been chosen.
Like romantic relationships, they can be an emotional landmine when it comes to expressing any negative emotions. Instead, we delicately skirt the issues we’re uncomfortable with; your husband eyeballs my breasts and hugs a little too long, you never return my phone calls, you never come visit, you only call when you’re upset – never to see how I am….the list goes on.
Before you hang a ‘for sale’ sign on a friendship, I suggest you both wade into the dark muck of what’s making you feel less than connected to your gal-pal. Sure, it’s scary. None of us want to hurt one another’s feelings, and more than that, we don’t want to feel the squeeze of having to defend our own personal boundaries.
If you’re the one raising the issues, do it gently. Expect resistance, tears, and give it time.
If you can’t go there together to strengthen the relationship, maybe it’s time for a separation, and if it’s meant to be you will connect again.
If you’ve explored your friendship, you’ve given it a chance to grow and deepen. The worst thing that can happen is to abandon a friendship and have one of you say, “You didn’t tell me.”