If you’re anything like me, you really really hate looking stupid in front of someone. And so you would probably rather put up with the ”status quo” of a relationship in tortured silence rather than open your mouth and say something that might have the other person reject you, think poorly of you, or, worst of all, gossip about you. Heck, tortured silence seems like the least painful of the two options, right?
Welcome to how my dating world used to be. I was the queen of silently pining for a guy I liked: reading and re-reading his emails to see if I could somehow intuit if he was interested or not, finding ways to conveniently bump into him in the elevator or hitching a ride with him to a friend’s party. I would take notes about what he said and didn’t say, then run them by my girlfriends, and we would undergo an analysis that would make any forensic specialist proud.
The one thing I wouldn’t do is actually ask him if he was interested. Heaven forbid he would say no, and then it would be awkward every time I bumped into him. Nope, I thought, better to pine in silence, and then at least I would be safe.
Except for one small detail. I then never got to actually date the guy. Or even if I did, it was after months of agony. What a waste. At some point, I realized that it was actually far more productive, not to mention less painful, to take the risk, have the conversation, and then deal with whatever hurt would arise and move on.
Well, enter my coworker, Seth, two months ago. For a few weeks, the ambiguous tension between us had mounted, coming out in sideways remarks and nuanced in business emails. Oh, never have I been so eager to hear a response to my questions about our 401k plan! I was petrified to bring up my feelings, because what if I was making up this romantic tension, and he would think I was pathetic, and then I would have to continue working with him. Nope, I decided I would rather just make sure I put on lip gloss when I saw him, and pretend like it was business as usual. Sure, it would be a bit tortured, I thought, but manageable.
Then I realized I was being a chicken. Oy, back to this, were we? I was thinking about it all wrong. I had been assuming that the stakes were high, that if he weren’t interested, it would ruin our relationship. But I knew that this didn’t have to be the case. What if there were a way to have a conversation about our relationship in a manner that, regardless of the answer, put the relationship on a better trajectory? In other words, have the conversation with Seth in a way that was guaranteed to make us stronger as either a) coworkers, b) friends, or c) partners? And what if the success of our conversation were entirely up to me?
Well, I took my own best advice and had the conversation. It was scary, but once I started talking, it just felt so good to finally talk about it. I could tell he was relieved, too.
You are probably curious how it ended up. It turns out he was attracted to me, too, and so we started dating. But that, dear Readers, is a story for another day. The point is that I gathered my courage, designed a conversation with someone I care about and was ready to ensure a beautiful outcome based on whatever reaction he had. I stopped sitting in a tortured, tolerating silence, and took on designing. That’s the secret of all change – boiled down into one sentence.
Where are you being a tortured chicken, staying silent when you know you want to have a conversation? Can you start to see how maybe, just maybe, the conversation could lead to something good, regardless of the exact outcome?
A blog by Dr. Samantha Sutton, Vice President of Courses and Seminars and Senior Coach at The Handel Group
Blog reposted from The Daily Love
Image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/jareth0205/