Avoiding Difficult Conversations is Unkind

Avoiding difficult conversations is unkind???

For many people talking about sensitive or negative matters seems mean and unkind. Avoiding mentioning it seems kinder. Nice people frequently tend to avoid conflict, by ignoring difficult issues.

Caring professions, charities and companies with a “nice” image  procrastinate when addressing unwanted behaviour. They make allowances, drop hints and make adjustments, trying to be understanding. The organisation and the people who work for them are nice. Nice people don’t talk about unpleasant topics.

Yet by tiptoeing around the issue, the situation often becomes more and more problematic. When behaviours or attitudes are causing a problem, which is not addressed, it’s  unlikely that things will get better. A list of some real life examples of why avoiding difficult conversations is unkind.

  • Problematic behaviour will continue as person doing it may not understand it is causing issues
  • Person/People on receiving end of the behaviour resign
  • Buried tensions explode
  • If problematic behaviour/attitude not addressed, affects others
    • the way they treat the person–exclusion, discrimination
    • others believe that the problematic behaviour is okay and copy
  • Absenteeism increases
  • People become disengaged or do bare minimum
  • Passive Aggressive Behaviour–great articlefrom Crucial Learning Blog

So, if it is unkind why do we avoid addressing it?

There are lots of reasons we may avoid difficult conversations. Here are a few common ones

  1. Maybe it is me who is wrong?
  2. Not sure if it is something that needs addressing. Should I speak out or stay silent?
  3. Because I might make it worse
  4. Don’t know to start the conversation
  5. Past bad experience
  6. Seems a minor annoyance
  7. Don’t think it will make a difference
  8. Going on for ages, so too late now.
  9. Lack of self-confidence
  10. Not my job

Each of these or all of them might be holding you back. I’ve suggested a few resources below that might help you be kind and address that problematic issue.

Useful Tools and Articles

  1. Is it just me? If you aren’t sure whether or not it’s an issue, this exercise might help to work out where the problem is.
  2. Speak out or stay silent? The A5 Speak up or Stay Silent  card help you work out whether you need to speak up or stay silent.
  3. Say No Nicely