I wish I could tell you that you will walk a smooth path to greatness. I’d much rather tell you that your relationships with friends, colleagues, and and lovers won’t have conflict at times. But, if I told you these things, I’d be lying to you.
Conflict is natural. It took me a long time to learn this. I used to avoid conflict with others, thinking there was something inherently “wrong” with it. In my effort to avoid conflict, many people thought I was either a pushover, or too simple-minded to stand up for what I wanted. Making matters worse.
Ironically, feeling disrespected by people after the fact stirs up even more anger and conflict in the long run. After a while, anger hardens, and becomes a thick wall of resentment that requires great effort to break down and heal from.
Conflict may be necessary
Embrace conflict and tension as a part of life. It doesn’t last forever, and, if handled properly, will make things better for you.
Your needs are important, and must be enforced. Period. Whether you’re negotiating your salary in a job interview, saying no to a social function you can’t attend, or sharing your opinion in a business meeting, you must express yourself, so people know what you want.
If this ruffles a few feathers, so be it. In business and personal relationships, people actually have an affinity for someone who can clearly and unapologetically communicate their needs. You must speak up. I can’t tell you this enough. If you were raised to avoid conflict, or if your family naturally does, you absolutely must work on building the habit of speaking up. Ask for what you want, and you’ll likely receive it.
Stay on the same page
Though it sounds elementary, looking someone in the eye and articulating to them what you want or believe will have major benefits. Your counterparts will know where you stand, and they will feel comfortable being honest with you, as you are being honest with them.
This helps build mutual trust, and partnerships built upon authenticity, not facade. I’ve learned this the hard way, unfortunately. Trying too hard to avoid conflict and be liked will severely weaken you.
This is the reason why people who are blunt but consistently fair are often respected as managers. A hard-nosed boss is likely going to earn the respect of his colleagues and employees if they’re consistent, and emotionally intelligent. Same for you.
Leadership – what they really want
People appreciate someone who “tells it like it is”. It makes them feel safe. Which is essential as a business partner, or a mate. Possessing both tactfulness and spine will eventually propel you into a position of leadership, and leadership is exactly what society needs.
Think about great leaders throughout history. Did they act on their beliefs, even if they possessed unpopular opinions? Did the people follow? Even if they came off as unsavory or bullheaded? Some people say they dislike this style of leadership or personality, but always seem to fall in line when it appears.
You can lead however you choose. There is no perfect style of leadership. What’s important is your team, and your willingness to have challenging, if not, harsh conversations to keep things in line.
Be able to shift gears
In light of the frailties and potential defects people may have, you can’t walk around with a biting disposition, or negative expectations of others. If you expect people to harass you, or betray you, you make unconsciously attract them into your life.
You must be able to shift between gentle and assertive gears, depending on what the situation needs. Too much of your soft side leads to powerlessness and impotence, and too much of a heavy hand will abuse those close to you.
Don’t be afraid to initiate confrontation, or have tough conversations if you’re needs aren’t being met. You’ll earn the respect and admiration of those around you, after the smoke clears. Every now and then, hurt them if you have to.