For a long time I avoided confrontation. I am not sure how I got that way, especially having Israeli parents (who culturally embrace confrontation). I just wanted to make everyone happy which never worked out. Here is a short story on how I recently happened on a way to make confrontation easier.
Let me start with and example of how I avoided confrontation. During my sophomore year of college I lived with 3 guys. I keep kosher, which is not a simple undertaking in Columbia, South Carolina, and they did not. I would cook in batches, so that I would have enough food for multiple meals. Being normal roommates, they would sometimes eat my leftovers. I never told them (hey guys!), but it really bothered me that they ate the food I prepared. Mostly because it was a hassle to buy it, defrost it, cook it… I am sure that they would have understood had I just brought up the issue, but instead I just started cooking everything really (really) spicy. And they just left my food alone: classic confrontation-avoiding Aviv.
I had to drop that habit pretty quickly when I started working. It’s impossible to manage others (well) without confrontation. But it wasn’t until I got married that I realized that I was still avoiding confrontation in my personal life. There is nothing like developing a marriage to make you attune to the fact that you are pretty bad at communicating. I wanted Lorraine to be happy, and was having trouble finding the right way to say something that I thought would upset her. The tension would build, and the eventual conversation was always harder than it should have been.
Now bear with me through this side story.
One day Lorraine and I were discussing what we thought dogs think about (we have deep convos). We started saying out loud what we imagined the dogs wanted to say like “I claim this, and this, and this” as they peed. For some reason the voice was always high and squeaky, regardless of the size of the dog. The voice then made its way to babies, who are really the best vehicle for the voice: so many facial expressions. I know that baby was thinking, “Turn down for what?” when it reached for the wine glass at lunch, so why not let everyone else know?
The voice came out one day when we were talking about something in our relationship. I don’t remember who used it first, or what the topic was, but it has made a world of a difference since. The voice makes it easier for me to respond “I think you look better NOT in those shoes” when she asked me how she looks, and maybe a little easier to say, “I am going to have to fly much more often this summer for work.” It is also much easier to accept what is being said when it is in a hilarious high-pitched voice. It automatically creates and more happy, calm environment.
Try it out. Maybe only with your personal relationships. Maybe even better if you have a baby. It might make your next conversation a little easier, or more fun.