I’ve always had a problem with communication. I’m great at communicating when things are going well – but when things aren’t looking so hot, my default method of communication is hiding. Unhappy at work? I just start working from home a lot. Unhappy with a class? I just stop showing up. Unhappy with friends? I just bottle up my anger. If I get really angry, I ghost them.
My avoidant communication style has caused a lot of problems. It has destroyed friendships, where I bottled up my anger and later exploded, catching my (ex)friends off guard. It has hurt my work relationships, where instead of nipping issues in the bud, I let them grow until they got so bad I’d snap at coworkers in a fiery rant. It has hurt my career, where I’d find out I was being underpaid – but instead of addressing it with my manager, I’d bitterly start working less, and ultimately waste a lot of time complaining when I could’ve spent it learning new skills. And let’s not forget my health – when you bottle up your anger all day, it has to go somewhere. And that somewhere is usually into the nearest pint of ice cream.
You may wonder: why would anyone be so avoidant? Well….
1. People won’t reject you. By not voicing your concerns, nobody can dismiss you.
2. People like you a lot. There’s a reason why dysfunctional managers like yes-men.
The problem is, if you never say anything when you’re unhappy, nothing will happen. If you’re angry at someone at work, but you never talk to them, how can you expect them to change?
I recently vowed to bring up issues with my manager and it’s been one of the best decisions of my life. Granted, I don’t slam him with emotion-fueled requests. I just open up a collaborative discussion about how we can make things run more smoothly. That way, I can bring up my concerns without upsetting him – in fact, I often find that these discussions make our relationship stronger. After all, from a manager’s perspective, the last thing you want is someone quitting with no notice!
Sometimes I think communicating your needs – even when you fear people will not like it – is key to happiness. I wonder how many relationships could’ve been saved, had I had just been honest about my needs and expectations upfront. Going forward, I resolve to address things that upset me, instead of staying quiet and later fuming inside. What do you think?