Embracing The Pain Of Face To Face Confrontations
The past few weeks I’ve had to initiate several difficult conversations with people in my life. I’ve learned that those types of conversations are best done in person and so that’s what I did.
One particularly tough conversation required me to get follow up a few days later. I wasn’t sure the response would be, but I was anticipating the worth and planned to get the news over the phone. Bad news can be painful.
The night before I was to get my feedback, I was coaching my pre-teen daughter through some difficult situations of her own. She had acted out by having a bad attitude with an acquaintance and knew she needed to apologize. The problem was she expressed a disdain for in-person, face to face apologies because she said they made her uncomfortable. She said she would rather make all of her apologies by email or over the phone to avoid the pain.
Knowing that wasn’t good, we talked it out and discovered that apologizing felt losing to her. And losing was embarrassing and humiliating. Doing the apology via email or over the phone would lessen the impact of those feelings on her, and would make her feel less pain.
I told her how I had learned that apologies are meant to help reestablish connection with the person we offended, and that if she wanted to have a greater impact to reestablish the connection she should embrace the pain and learn to apologize in person.
The next morning I got up and prepared for the day. Knowing about the feedback I was supposed to get, my wife asked me if I planned to go get it face to face. “Nah”, I told her. “I’m just going to call them.”
I mentally stopped dead in my tracks. I was doing exactly what I had encouraged my pre-teen daughter not to do last night. I was trying to avoid pain by not dealing with negative circumstances in-person.
I had to practice what I preached. So I bucked up and went to get my feedback in person.
The result was simple but profound.
Even though I wasn’t initiating the communication, my actions communicated respect to the other person and value for the importance of the conversation. It also helped to deepen the connection with that person as we embraced the emotional difficulty that was apart of the conversation. I felt like the outcome was better than I anticipated, in part because of my decision to communicate in person.
May I always remember that in this emotionally disconnected society, we should value the importance of face to face connections even if the interactions are challenging and difficult.
People and relationships are worth it.