“I love confrontation” said nobody ever. After all, confrontation is terrible. It makes our palms sweat and our stomachs churn. If given a choice we’d choose keeping peace over telling the truth every single time.
So today I was about to say no to a hard conversation. It wasn’t like I had to tell someone they were a terrible human being. I just had to admit to a friend that I was hurt and wasn’t getting what I wanted. I told myself everything you tell yourself to avoid conflict. I’m just being silly. It’s no big deal. I’ll just get over it.
But I knew I wouldn’t just get over it. I’d think about it all weekend. I’d rehearse a fake conversation in my mind, trying to trick myself into thinking I had the real conversation.
I was just about to avoid the conflict, when I remembered something I recently read from Brene Brown. Part of cultivating a meaningful relationship is saying what needs to be said. In other words, we creating meaningful relationships when we care enough about a person to confront them when we see something that perhaps they don’t see or when we are vulnerable about who we are and what we want.
Simply put, if we want to have real relationships we can’t choose silence. We have to say what needs to be said. We have to choose vulnerability, even if we feel needy, silly and small. We don’t get over things by being silent, we get over things by expressing our hurts, our wants and our needs.
Honestly, I think one of the lies we believe is that we will lose a relationship if we say what needs to be said. But that isn’t true. The truth is that we’ll lose a relationship if we stay silent.
About a year ago I saw a show where a camera was hidden in a restaurant. An actor entered, sat next to a man eating at the counter and without saying a word, the actor grabbed some French fries off the man’s plate and started eating. This scenario was repeated numerous times, and almost every time the victims never said a word. But you could tell by their body language that they were furious. They clenched their first. They glared in disbelief. But they never said a word.
And here’s the point: when we refuse confrontation to preserve harmony, we take away the possibility for intimacy. Sure we may buy some shallow peace on the surface but underneath there are hurt feelings, and hidden judgement just waiting to erupt.
So here is the question. Is there a hard conversation that you need to have? Is there someone you need to confront?
If so, I’d encourage you to say what needs to be said. And I realize that it’s scary but think about it like this. Being scared of confrontation is like the fear of stepping into a lifeboat when the ship you’re on is already sinking. Sure it’s scary. But it’s scarier to stay on the ship. It’s scarier to say nothing. It’s scarier to buy shallow peace and to sink into an inauthentic relationship. So say what needs to be said.