In my district, we have a belief that “people are our greatest resource.” I agree completely. People are what it’s all about. Our success, our satisfaction, and our happiness are defined by the relationships we build with other people, Whether a lifelong friend, a family member, or someone we’ve just met, relationships matter.
This is hardly the first time I’ve written about the power of relationships. For me, they are everything. And I spend quite a bit of time reflecting on how best to develop and maintain positive relationships in my life.
So the focus of this blog may seem strange. The idea I share today may seem contrary to what I have always said is best practice in working with other people. But I’ve come to believe this is some of the most important advice I’ve ever gotten.
Ignore and avoid.
I like to talk. Communication is in my top five Gallup strengths. I believe there is enormous benefit in open, transparent, ongoing conversations. I believe the quickest way to resolve an issue is to address it directly.
As a leader, I tend to confront issues head-on. I believe a Fierce conversation has great power. So why would I suggest that anyone ever ignore or avoid anything? I have actually taught classes on the importance of having the conversations you know you need to have.
Well, because people are flawed. They have bad days. They say things they don’t mean, and they use harsh tones when they are hungry, angry, lonely, tired, or sad. Even the most positive, thoughtful person can lash out when they are frustrated. I’ve done it myself plenty of times. And when you reach out to try to help, they will sometimes just get more angry.
In those moments, we have a choice. We can choose to be offended by it, or we can choose to ignore it. We can choose to confront it, or we can choose to avoid it. For much of my life, I have gotten offended and chosen to confront. Rarely, in those moments of agitation on my part, did I made the situation any better.
In many of those cases, it would have served our relationship more to simply let the situation pass.
In one of those moments recently, when I was frustrated and angry for how I felt I was being treated, a friend suggested I should ignore and avoid. His recommendation was that I should move past what was said and recognize that it was not typical for the person who said it. He helped me see that fixating on my emotions surrounding the issue and over-thinking how to address it was not doing me any good.
Now, I would never, ever advocate that you allow people to treat you rudely or accept ongoing inappropriate behavior. I am not suggesting that we ignore bullying or avoid the conversations we know we need to have. Letting a small issue grow because you are afraid of the conversation is never healthy.
I am simply saying that when a friend or family member who is normally a positive person has a bad day, it is okay to just ignore it.
And when you are the one who acts inappropriately, because we all do at times, apologize. Someone may be ignoring and avoiding you to not further damage your relationship.