Sticks and Stones in the Workplace


Some conversations are so difficult that we do anything to avoid them. Then, when things have really built up, we finally have no choice but to confront the issue, and along with it, the colleague, our spouse, or the other person involved.

“We need to talk,” usually precedes an argument rather than a conversation. Why are such conversations difficult?

Because we are stuck between knowing what we really feel and knowing what we shouldn’t say.

We are distracted by what’s going on inside and we can be uncertain about what’s okay to share. There’s so much going on between you and the other person, it’s confusing.

And, if you didn’t care on some level about your relationship with the other person, you wouldn’t be struggling with this in the first place.

Conversations are difficult because emotions get involved. Emotions are generated the brain in the amygdala. It is a more primitive part of the brain. When stimulated, it calls the body into fight or flight mode.

Humans are genetically hard-wired to react to emotional triggers by either fighting, freezing, or fleeing, actions which during cavemen times, had huge survival benefits.

However, we are now supposed to be socially conditioned in more “civilized” ways. It is no longer appropriate to throw stones or draw fists or guns. We are supposed to handle things with conversations.

Are we much different now than our ancestors? Genetically, no. We still have impulses to blast someone or avoid them altogether. We are not hard-wired to sit down and talk it over with someone when there’s a problem.

It’s actually amazing we don’t have more fights in the work place. Actually, maybe we do, only instead of fists we use our words. And we mask our blows under the guise of “conversations…”

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