I have kept my mouth shut three times over the past 24 hours, and that’s a good thing. A really, really good thing. For the record, I was involved in three situations that could have turned ugly (or at least uncomfortable), but they didn’t because I kept what I was thinking and feeling to myself. Only a year ago those situations might have gone a different way.
The whos, hows, and whys don’t matter. What matters is my thought process. In one case someone, in my opinion, was clearly goading me to fight. Rather than getting caught up in the drama, I consciously decided to do the opposite of what it seemed like the person seemed to want me to do. You know what? The encounter ended really well. I walked away feeling good about myself. No malice or anger in my heart. I was relaxed and happy because, by choosing not to right a perceived wrong, everything went well. And the other person started behaving better, too.
The second experience had to do with someone asking for advice. An acquaintance asked a question in a group. Many of the group members gave what I consider bad advice. Advice that flew in the face of what I would have said. Again, I thought it through and realized the person asking for advice didn’t really want advice. She wanted validation of what she was already doing. I opted out of giving my own advice, staying silent. Again, I avoided a confrontation. No one got hurt. It was a wonderful thing.
The third experience was an encounter with an employee of a public organization. (I’ll give a few more details since she is unlikely to ever read or see herself in this post.) She was nasty and unkind to me and my kids. Instead of saying something to her about her behavior, I walked away. It’s not like she was calling names or anything. Her demeanor and tone were sharp and she was dismissive when Big Girl asked her a question. (Just an aside: My Big Girl said please and thank you anyway even though she didn’t get an answer.) In that case, after walking away for a moment, I decided to go back to her desk, smile, and make small talk. After a minute or two of chatting, the woman got up on her own and went to get the answer we were looking for without me having to ask again. Her exact words when I told her not to go through so much trouble: “It’s no trouble. It’s a slow night and I’d be happy to help.” Score another one for kindness.
I don’t know where this new wisdom is coming from. I wish I had it in me years ago, however, because I am loving the end results. Oh, if I had the self-control and insight even a year ago to swallow my pride and my opinions life might be a little different over this way. The strange thing is I’ve been following the keep-my-mouth shut mission forever when it comes to work. I’ve always believed in putting out a “customer is always right” vibe even when I know in my heart they are wrong — or behaving badly.
Anyway, I’m including this on the blog because I think part of natural-as-possible parenting is being willing to keep learning and growing. I’m trying every single day, although I know I falter every once in a while. That said, would love to hear about how you handle conflict. Sometimes the best way to learn is to follow someone’s (better) example, right?