I consider myself to be a fairly bold person. I'm not typically known to keep my opinion to myself or to keep quiet when in disagreement with someone or something. This, as with most personality traits, comes with it's pros and cons.

Example? Sensitivity. I've definitely never been accused of fitting the stereotype of a typical sensitive girl. You aren't often going to find me complaining that my feelings were hurt. I'm usually able to let things go quickly and not take offense easily. This serves me well in many situations. The down side (because there's always a down side) is that I'm not always very tolerant of those who are sensitive. Or I'm often just totally naive´to the fact that someone's feelings could be hurt by something I did or said. I definitely have to remind myself that just because something wouldn't hurt MY feelings doesn't mean it won't cause someone else angst. I often find myself being perplexed and annoyed at the things people get upset about.

So conflict. Some people thrive on it, some people run as fast as they can from it. I have always assumed that conflict was not something I would easily shy from. I used to have a boss who always talked big, like he was going to handle conflict head-on, but then when it came down to it -  he never did. It drove me crazy. I always left a conversation with him assuming he would handle the situation how he said he would and it would never get done. I quickly realized he only had a backbone when he was telling me what I wanted to hear and his follow through was poor (I can think of another word for poor but I'll keep this PG).

Then I came into a supervising role in my job for both co-workers and foster parents. Suddenly all those situations I used to wish my boss would handle swiftly and sternly are now my job to handle. And that changes everything...where is that boldness I've always boasted of?! Confronting and correcting adults who have personalities all over the board is actually kind of a crappy job. (To be clear, this is only a small part of my job, thankfully.)

I'm finding I totally want to run from these hard-to-handle situations. I want to brush over the issue at hand...sweep it under the rug so to speak. My inclination is to send an email rather than call or try to smooth things over or act like someone else has an issue with this - not me - I'm just the messenger! (always a great cop out). I guess I'm not quite the conflict-handler I've dreamt I would be.

But as painful as initiating those situations can be, I'm realizing that handling something the way it needs and deserves to be handled is so necessary - and can also be really rewarding. I'm realizing that conflict or confronting can actually build relationships if handled appropriately. I'm realizing that people just appreciate your willingness to be honest with them in a sensitive way - hence I'm learning to be a little more sensitive. Most of all, I'm learning to pray through any situation before I even consider dealing with it.

While I learn about this in my work, I see it translate to my personal life as well. (Clearly God is teaching me about this right now.) I've realized that a lot of my 'letting things go' or 'not taking offense' was, at times, just a defense mechanism because it was easier to let it go than be honest about how it made me feel. But over time, that's how relationships grow apart and tense. (Although, don't get me wrong, some times people really do just need to let things go. :)

So there - my unsolicited essay on what I'm learning about myself and conflict.


Christen Leigh said...

I like your thoughts on this. I think it is such a good thing to learn how to address issues and confront people in a sensitive and tactful way....although, as you know, I tend to shy away from conflict whenever possible. Something I'm learning more about, too! :)

Tami said...

This was great to read!! I'm definitely someone who shy's away from conflict (in some cases...not all) but like you said, that can make me grow apart from the people I don't address things with. I have to say though, I ALWAYS appreciate a girl who isn't over-emotional and doesn't get hurt easily...I tend to get along with girls like that. :) Lately, I've heard myself telling girls not to be overly emotional. :) I'm sure they love hearing it from the girl who can tuck away emotions in a nice little box. :) Yikes.

Tami said...
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Sarah said...

I just really liked this post. You know yourself well - I like that. Congrats are learning how to handle conflict in a loving way...we could all take notes from this!


Betsy said...

Oh Em I needed to read this for more reasons than one but I'll spare the details for our phone chat :) You amaze me the way you are handling these hard situations; I think you have no idea how well this will serve you in the future, in all of life, to learn these hard-and-gentle ways of confronting now. Good for you. (And good for those under your leadership.)

leah said...

i loved your thoughts on this post and love your honesty. it's also good for a conflict avoider like me to hear...conflict CAN be really good. if handled well. thanks for your thoughts and i'll be praying for you in this new position that you have wisdom and grace to handle each situation!