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Be nice, especially when you don't want to be

·3 mins

This statement was given in a ‘conflict resolution’ class I took a few months ago. I don’t remember much about that class, but this statement stuck. Mostly, I think, is because I sometimes don’t do it - but when I do - I feel really good about myself.

What I think I want #

In heated settings, it’s easy to lose temper. For me, this usually comes because of frustration of not getting agreed with. I can sugar-coat it, as if “I’m not explaining myself clearly enough” or because “my arguments aren’t convincing enough”, but what I really want is that the other side will accept what I’m saying - and get the discussion over with.

What I really want #

What I really want, and is hard to get when a discussion gets heated, is to find the best solution for the problem at hand. It may be the case that I have the ‘right’ solution, but I may be wrong. What I really want is to create a setting where people can contribute to the discussion - and get to the best solution - ego aside. When discussions get heated - it’s hard to do.

Why being nice is good #

Or, why not being nice is bad.

  1. If I’m not nice - I can come off as an asshole. People don’t want to work with assholes, even if they are smart assholes.
  2. If I’m not nice - I wouldn’t get my ideas seriously considered, as people will get defensive and will hold firmly to their opinions.
  3. If I’m not nice - I don’t create a setting where others feel they can share their thoughts about the issue at hand.

I do acknowledge that it’s hard. When discussions get heated - I sometimes just want to bang on the desk and get this over with. That, again, isn’t what I really want.

Before nice, stop and breath #

When I manage to do it - just a second before I burst, I stop. I think - “do I really want to let it all out”? If I got myself to stop and think - it’s almost certain that I’ll be able to tame myself. I then smile. It’s not because I’m trying to be passive aggressive or snarky to the other side. It’s because I’m happy with myself for not losing it. Furthermore, if I’m able to convince myself that there might be a point in what the other side is saying - that’s really good. In those cases I say: “OK. I want to take a step back. Explain this to me again please, I think I’m missing something”. Sometimes, I did in fact miss something.

When I get convinced otherwise it feels good. Rarely, even more when I convince others :P