I used to believe that if I had a grievance, opposing opinion, or legitimate complaint with someone, I had to bite my tongue to be perceived as a nice guy. On those rare occasions when I chose to speak up, I felt as though I was attacking the person. Since I'm not the attacking type, I learned to keep it to myself, all locked inside. If you believe in a mind-body connection, as I firmly do, you know that bottling things up and keeping them inside can lead to stress, uneasiness, and even disease.
In every relationship, you'll occasionally have disagreements and do the wrong thing. To keep from making yourself unhealthy, and to make sure the relationship grows and flourishes, you need to practice being clear. Here are some guidelines:
Keep it between the two of you. In high school, you'd get four friends "on your side" by telling them about the horrible thing someone else had done to you. Then you'd go to that person and say, "You're an idiot, and they all agree with me!" When disagreements arise, keep them between the parties involved. Don't allow little battles to interrupt the flow of your business. It's so easy to cause divisions with the tiny, seemingly insignificant comments you make about a partner or client.
Always clear privately. If anyone else is there when you share and clear the air, the person you're with will feel ganged-up on and attacked, and will, therefore, feel the need to be defensive. One-on-one feels like communication from a friend and loved one. Two-on-one feels like a firing squad.
Stick to the facts. Share only the actions and words that upset or hurt you. Let's say your business partner said something mean or unflattering about you at a party. Unless he or she always says mean things about you in public, this was just a case being human and perhaps it was an isolated incident. Rather than making the statement, "You're such a mean person," simply describe how you felt when you heard the comments.
Focus on your desired end result. Decide in advance how the best possible outcome would look and feel. Sometimes you'll be tempted to rehearse a horrible outcome in your mind. You imagine yourself telling the other person how he or she wronged you, and then you picture them firing back a defense and subsequent attack. As you plan to clear with your business partner or client, imagine the two of you talking it through, confirming your appreciation for each other, and ending the chat with a hug or handshake. Your end-result mantra could be: "You and I will be closer for having gone through this. I will honor myself and I will honor you as I clear with you. This experience is for our growth."
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