Conflict Avoidant? Here’s What It’s Costing You

I’m bad at confronting people  — I don’t always choose the right words because I’m so nervous about having the conversation in the first place —  but I’m even worse at suffering in silence.

So when something’s up between me and someone else I just have to say something, even though it’s guaranteed to be awkward and uncomfortable (at least for me).

That discomfort is definitely the downside of approaching conflict head-on. But there’s an upside as well: No matter what happens, the “relationship rug” stays nice and flat, because there’s nothing swept under it. Read More

How to Recognize When You’re Being Passive-Aggressive

2 woman at oddsWho among us can honestly say they’ve never behaved in a passive-aggressive way?

When I’m not being assertive, passive-aggression is my go-to. I figure it’s better than outright aggression, and I don’t seem to be wired for passivity, so sometimes it feels like the best option.

There are hundreds — maybe thousands — of subtle ways to avoid being assertive.

This week’s article, in which I happen to be quoted, is a survey of just a few of the twisted moves we make to get around saying what we mean. Read More

7 Ways to Spring Clean Your Relationships

Now that spring is here, I thought I’d offer a few tips for some “relationship spring cleaning.”

Try these with your partner, friends, family, or even coworkers.

1. Listen more. Even if the other person already does most of the talking, how carefully do you typically listen? Challenge yourself to tune in to what they’re saying, rather than letting your mind wander.

2. Make time. The word “relationship” may be a noun, but “relate” is a verb. Read More

“I’m Sorry You Feel That Way”

sister and brother problemsIf your mail carrier complains to you about your mailbox being so far from the curb, it’s perfectly appropriate to respond by saying, “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

Here’s what that statement really means:

  • “Your feelings are your problem.”
  • “How you feel has nothing to do with me.”
  • “I don’t care.”
  • “You’re on your own.”

If these are what you mean to convey — and really, what more does the mail carrier have any right to expect from you, unless she’s your sister? Read More