Wednesday, May 18, 2016
I Googled "Top three fears in life" and surprisingly enough, I didn't see confrontation in the top ten of any of the lists I saw. However, I did only open a few pages so it could be there somewhere. Based on the popularity of bullying or bitching from behind a computer screen or the amount of talking trash behind people's back, you'd think it would be just over or under the fear of public speaking.
There was drama on one of the twenty-five (slight exaggeration) Facebook groups for my town. Townspeople trash talked some in-town small businesses. Some people came to the defense of the shops, and some came to the defense of the unhappy patrons. What then pushed me to think about this deeper and then write about it were two more more interactions.
One, is something kind of silly, but it is what it is. Most people know I watch almost all the Real Housewives. Every season in every group there is a situation where someone gets confronted for saying something behind someone's back. The other person denies it. Then they show the footage where the person accused actually IS saying it. Yet, when asked about it, they just deny, deny, deny. Meanwhile, if they admitted it, they probably could've hashed it all out. Or at least just agree to never be friends, but to be civil in social situations and be done with it. Or apologize. Whatever. Instead it's just a circle of lies. All because they had a fear of the confrontation. I get that reality tv is loosely scripted and they need drama. But I don't feel like their denial is any different than people in real life denial to avoid confrontation.
Second, was a post in another area's Facebook moms group where someone was asking for a good barber. Numerous people recommended one place as great. Then one person chimed in with- "My husband went there and got an uneven cut". Now, I'm not doubting her husband's experience. But that was one day, one person, one cut. And five other people said the place was great. So, why the necessity to jump to the negative when there were already like five positive recommendations. This person wasn't even giving a name as to who did the uneven cut. There have to be more than one person working there, so the comment wasn't even helpful.
I just *know*, without the woman saying, when he got the uneven cut, neither she nor her husband said anything, or asked to have it fixed. They just lived with it and then didn't miss an opportunity to knock the place when asked. Had they just asked the person to fix it, it could've been taken care of and maybe then they'd have had a totally different, favorable experience.
The other was a conversation I had with two different friends over a twenty-four hour period. They both have elementary school daughters who are having continuing trouble with two totally different kids from school. Both of the moms have decided to work on the confidence and reactions of their own daughters to situations where they feel they are not being treated nicely. I applaud them both. The reality is that there will always be another mean kid. Confronting these particular parents might stop these particular situations but the kids still need coping skills for when these situations arise in the future with other kids.
I also get that it's not easy to confront another parent about their kid's behavior. Especially when it's your kid that's hurt. Your first instinct is to go Mama Bear all over the kid and/or the parents. It's hard to be diplomatic and you're not looking for a fight. You also may feel like there have to be reasons why the kid is acting out and that confrontation (even friendly), may just fall on deaf ears. I've been in situations like that. I've just let it go because I didn't think the conversation would go anywhere productive. I also want to use these situations to work on E's responses and his coping skills. As an only child, I know he can also be a bit sensitive. He shouldn't have to put up with being targeted or harassed, but there are definite teaching moments to be extracted from some of these interactions.
I do recognize though, that in certain instances, I didn't confront because it would be uncomfortable. I think when it involves kids and parenting, confrontation is extra difficult. It's more personal than even with it's about yourself. Over time, you get an idea of how it could go down and if it seems like it isn't going to be to the benefit of you or your kid, you just weigh it and decide not to go for it.
The general root of non-confrontation is totally the uneasiness factor. People simply just don't like confrontation. I don't enjoy it myself. Although, I will say, one of the best conversations I ever had, that turned into a really nice friendship, was when someone confronted ME, flat out asking if I don't like her or if she did something to offend me. Of course, I was taken aback, but I was kind of trapped. I was at her house on a play date and she just said it. Asked me. I gained a new respect for her that day. I didn't know her well, and that was the point. From what I knew, it didn't seem like we had much in common. I wasn't mean to her. I guess I just came off as disinterested. I stayed at her house for hours that day she confronted me. I learned that we actually do have things in common, and I appreciate that she just cuts through the bull and gets down to business. That was like three or four years ago and we're still friends.
There are just so many arguments and misunderstandings that could be avoided if people were more forthcoming with their feelings. Hey, sometimes it won't work. E was really obsessed with being close friends with another boy. E just likes him a lot. He wanted to be best friends. I get it. I kind of worshipped this one girl in preschool that I could never seem to get close enough with. E is deep though, and I have to give him credit. At six, he had the where with all to tell his friend that he likes him a lot and wants to be best friends. The other kid didn't really get it and didn't really answer him. E ended up being fine. But I wouldn't say they are best friends- whatever that means to boys when you're six.
E has also tried to reason with kids he's had issues with over the years. He gone to them and asked him why they're mean to him. Usually they don't really have an answer or I can't fully decipher E's explanation of the answer. Which is fine. I don't expect kids his age to be that self-aware or articulate. I'm just happy he's still young enough to not have the fear of (friendly) confrontation yet. He's just doing what comes natural to him. Even when he doesn't get the answer he's looking for, he's still going to go for it. He doesn't know any other way yet and I'm glad. I wish we all could do the same as adults. I don't know when it changes. Probably puberty when your confidence plummets.
Rationally, when dealing with friends or acquaintances, I'm not even sure why we're so afraid. In most cases, I can't see one parent lunging at another. Yeah, I know, we've seen that on the news, but I don't think that's the norm. Especially if you don't come out of the gate aggressively. Online, dealing with strangers, people just get these virtual balls they'd never have in real life. If they say they would say the same things in real life, then I question what the need is to malign someone or a small business for everyone to see.
There is just a real culture of public shaming these days which is positively shameFUL. It seems like it's more the instant gratification part of it mentally. They're angry in the moment, so the only recourse is quickly fire off a quick, negative response, and they feel better. Then they forget about it but it leaves a lasting issue for the person or business they so cavalierly maligned. They're also validated when other people, strangers, agree or "like" their posts. Then they feel they are in the right and there is no remorse for putting whatever they did out into the cyber universe.
I've totally left negative feedback on Twitter, Facebook or on my blog for big companies that refused to acknowledge me after many attempts. Social media isn't my FIRST action. It's my last resort. I'm sure it's statistically documented somewhere- I don't feel like looking- that people tend to write more negative reviews or comments than positive. I looked up someone who wrote an extremely negative review and saw all he had were negative reviews. Awful, scathing, trying to ruin someone's business reviews. That was very telling. It told me that he's a coward, because he didn't try to rectify anything first. Second, he's just an angry guy who most likely can't be satisfied. There are just people like that. Always looking for an issue, problem, or a fight.
I know this entry is sort of all over the place with different examples of personal and business types of confrontation. They're all related now because of social media. Everyone knows I *love* social media, but I also am not blind to the downsides. While on one hand, it brings people together that wouldn't ordinarily be in the same social orbit, it also gives a voice to people who should be using it more in person instead of hiding behind a screen. We're losing our ability to converse in person.