You want to know how to make people mad?
There is a layer of glaze in society that performs like a glue but is really a sludge.
It’s the social lubricant of saying what we think people want to hear rather than using our voices in an authentic way.
We have an agreement in society that we will (generally) avoid conflict in conversation, even if it means we are disingenuous to ourselves or others. There is of course a number of scenarios where this kind of agreement can serve us. But I’ve come to believe that we extend this practice far beyond those appropriate scenarios.
When I think back on where I was complicit in contributing to situations that were not what I said I wanted, the concession to not speak truthfully to achieve some short term comfortable reaction was usually in play.
Here are three key areas where I think we don’t do a great job of staying clear and real with people:
1) Work. How often do we not say things that we know would be in the best interest of our company because we are worried about someone’s reaction and what will result from that? I’m not talking about reacting emotionally to something we didn’t like, that’s basically never an ideal thing to do, work related or otherwise. I’m talking about stating an objective or even subjective truth about something work related that has logical underpinnings.
When has avoiding speaking that truth ever worked out in the long run? We leave that conversation having avoided an important discussion in real life and then run it back in our heads for the next two weeks, sometimes for the next two or even twenty years. I mean, how nuts is this, but we’ve all done it. Being false doesn’t work out in the long run and we should operate from that point of fact.
2) Health. I realize this is a sensitive point because everyone is doing the best they can right where they are, and if they could do any better, they certainly would. Making good health decisions is a process that takes lots of time to develop. But we are all tip toeing around saying caring things to each other to encourage people to make healthy choices, and by doing that we are collectively getting sicker.
Now of course, we need to speak to people with empathy and care. But there is a growing failure in society to have uncomfortable conversations with people we love when we know that their behavior is self-destructive. Look, it’s almost never going to go well in that initial conversation. But make no mistake, if that person respects you and knows you care and you come from a place of genuine concern, then they will come to appreciate it after they react initially. And if they don’t, you tried. Absolutely no harm in that.
3) Our Time. People are making decisions about how to spend their time based on how other people will react to their decision. And this is completely justified, because people actually will freeze you out if you don’t do what they want you to do with YOUR time. Now I understand, we need to have community, and that means showing up for our family and friends and institutions that matter to us. But let’s all be honest, the digital age has made the ability to invite people to things too damn easy.
I’ve been really practicing this one lately, and it’s hilarious how shocked people are when you don’t delay in saying no. By convention, we’ve all agreed to do the dance of “let me check my calendar” and “yeah, I think I can, I’ll get back to you” and then we do a mental wrestling match with ourselves about how we are going to get out of doing it, only half the time successfully.
So lately I’ve been telling people no right away, because I’ve committed to myself a very small number of events that qualify for me to attend.
People do not like it!
But guess what, I do 😎
I love that I’ve given myself the top billing in my head as the person who needs to be happy with what comes out of my mouth. Not saying I do it 100% of the time. But a lot more today than I did a year ago.
Other’s reactions to your truth are not the priority. Your reaction is.
The world needs more people speaking with their own inner peace as the highest priority.
Have a grateful week.