Pick your battles! You can’t have every difficult conversation you come across. Deciding whether to raise an issue or not torments us.
To Raise or Not To Raise: How To Decide?
Rules like “No politics at the dinner table” do not work well. Don’t look for quick rules.
How Do I Know I’ve Made The Right Choice?
You can’t until you dive in. So don’t waste time on it. Just make the goal to think clearly.
Work Through The Three Conversations
Work through them as best you can. Feelings, issues and gaps in knowledge. What do you know and what don’t you? This sometimes helps you decide whether to raise the issue or not.
Three Kinds Of Conversation That Don’t Make Sense
Is The Real Conflict Inside You?
Is most of the issue what is going on inside you than what is between the two of you? If that is the case, then do not have the conversation with the other until you have had a conversation with yourself.
Is There a Better Way To Address The Issue Than Talking About It?
Perhaps a change in behavior is more important. Actions can be better than words. If your mother is nagging about stuff you don’t want to talk about, and you’re avoiding her, then phone more often, with news about the kids, etc. This may be better than talking about her nagging.
Do You Have Purposes That Make Sense?
You Can’t Change Other People
It’s OK to want that change. But trying to change someone rarely works. Engaging in a conversation where mutual learning is the goal often results in change.
Don’t Focus on Short Term Relief at Long-Term Cost
You may feel a need to vent at someone, but usually this will be costly in the long run.
Don’t Hit and Run
Employee is chronically late. Don’t walk by and say “Late again, huh?”
If you’re going to talk, have a proper meaningful conversation. If it is going to take time, ensure the other party has time.
There doesn’t seem to be a fixed or easy formula for letting go and not have it be on your mind. It usually takes time. It is hard to relinquish the role of victim/villain.
Ignore anyone who says you should be over something by now.
Don’t just assume that time will heal the wounds.
Adopt Some Liberating Assumptions
Start with the Identity Conversation. Challenge some common assumptions that get in the way of letting go. Some of them are:
It’s Not My Responsibility To Make Things Better. It’s My Responsibility To Do My Best
Don’t blindly believe things would be better if only you had acted differently.
They Have Limitations Too
If you inform someone that something bothers you, and they do it again, do not assume it is intentional or they can change instantly. Or that you’re not important to them. They are not perferct. Don’t get more irritated than normal.
This Conflict Is Not Who I Am
Do not define who you are based on the conflict. Perhaps if you allow it to be your identity, it’ll be hard for you to change or move on. Reconciliation will then pose a threat.
Letting Go Doesn’t Mean I No Longer Care
Letting go does not mean apathy.
If You Raise It, Three Purposes That Work
1. Learning Their Story
- What information do they see that we don’t?
- What past experiences influence them?
- Why did they do what they did?
- What were their intentions?
- How did our actions impact them?
- What do they think we are contributing to the problem?
- What are they feeling?
- What does this situation mean to them?
- How does it affect their identity?
- What is at stake?
2. Express Your Views And Feelings
The goal could be to express your views and feelings to your satisfaction. You hope they will understand your perspective, but accept that it may not happen. Share your story.
3. Problem Solving Together
With this new knowledge, what would improve the situation?
Stance and Purpose Go Hand In Hand
The stance is a learning stance. Shift from certainty to curiosity. From debate to exploration. From simplicity to complexity.