Some exciting news, I launched a Facebook page for this blog! Go to the icon at the top of the page and give me a Like if you haven’t already. Ta!
Now to the purpose of this post. Something a little more soul searching. Something has come to my attention once again this week and I need to articulate it. Also writing it down and sending it into the Void will help me face it.
Ok. I’m just going to come out and say it.
I am a coward.
No, it’s true.
I’m a coward in the sense that I hate to say no. I hate to inconvenience people by voicing an alternative opinion. I hate to tell someone that they did something that bothered me.
It’s not because I want people to like me. I really don’t care whether people like me or not.
It’s because I hate confrontation in all of it’s forms- text and especially face to face. Thinking over it, I’ve been able to pin this down to a number of reasons.
One is working in customer service for over ten years. You’re taught right from the get go that the customer is always right (a statement that I now despise after years of customer service. It’s not true) and that you should do everything to satisfy them. Even if they start throwing their weight about. So from thirteen years old, when confronted with an upset customer I either had to deal with it myself or fetch a manager and watch them deal with it. Usually by giving in and pretending store policy no longer existed and giving the customer what they demanded.
Secondly, as a teenager I was always shouted down when standing up for myself. Now don’t read into that the wrong way, all teenagers are argumentative and I know I was no different (despite what I protest to Mother). Going up against bigger and stronger personalities than mine, I found it more and more difficult to bring things up that bothered me. I’m not going to delve deep into this point, I’m just mentioning it as a factor.
And lastly, my Mother raised me in that good ol’ British fashion of putting other people before yourself. Think how they would feel if you say something. Don’t be a bother. Being taught empathy is a wonderful thing and I’m thankful for it. Perhaps I’ve taken it too far though.
It’s taken a number of years for me to even be brave enough to return an item or product that I wasn’t happy with. Even now I hate doing it, but I always try to do so in a calm and respectful manner because I’ve been on the other side of that transaction.
Now it’s more a matter of doing it with people I care about most. I dread hurting them and I really really don’t want to cause a fuss. And usually I can roll with the punches and live in my own little world, not giving a second thought to people’s actions or words. But times do come where something will be said or done and I think to myself, “Not cool.” Ninety-five percent of the time, I let it go.
Another side effect of hating confrontation is that I’m usually the first to apologise because ohmygod please don’t be mad at me. If I show contrition they’ll be ok, right? They won’t be so mad and the whole thing will blow over and be forgotten about, right? I also have a hard time controlling my face. I may not say what I’m thinking, but my face betrays me and I’m honestly surprised it hasn’t invited confrontation yet.
I am baffled by people who are so straight forward and often don’t know how to react. How can people be like that? No beating about the bush for them, just out with it. No subtlety or tact, just straight to the point. How do they do that? Does it bother them? Are they comfortable with it? I have seen that these people prefer others to be straight forward with them, but I also find that with me, I prefer people to beat around the bush a bit or preface the discussion topic. Each to their own I guess.
I think the underlying factor here is that I don’t want to look stupid. I’m prideful and a little vain and I don’t want to look like I’m making a mountain out of a molehill. I may not care whether people like me or not, but I do care about looking an intellectual fool. I’ll happily be silly in a public place, but I do not want to look foolish. Is what I’m bringing up really an issue? Am I, in fact, overthinking the situation?
In saying all of this, I want to work on my cowardice. I want to practice speaking up when something bothers me. In a tactful way, of course. Something else to work on.
Confrontation doesn’t have to be big or argumentative. I find, however, that even discussions cause me great discomfort. But it’s only going to get worse if I don’t do something about it. And yes it’s scary and horrible and I absolutely don’t want to cause unnecessary fuss. I guess I have to learn what necessary fuss is first. Or at least, what it means to me. And then I have to find my voice.