Everything you ever wanted to know about conflicts at home, at work, or in the neighborhood.
I’m learning to zip itJune 14th, 2011 at Tue, 14th, 2011 at 9:11 am by Vivian Scott
I cowboy-upped the other day and gave some long-overdue, yet unsolicited, advice to a young relative of mine. In the end I was glad I said something because I learned that there’s an obvious point in touchy conversations where one can gauge whether to keep going and cause a problem or leave it be. Here’s what happened and why I decided to leave it be.
This particular young woman is working like crazy to start a new business. She’s venturing into an industry she knows very little about that requires a hefty amount of experience because a large part of what she’ll be doing will be acting as an informational and inspirational resource for others. She’s a bit of a free spirit and can be a little rough around the edges—particularly with her language. She’s also pretty headstrong so I was a little hesitant to point out that maybe her public persona could be cleaned up a bit. I wasn’t sure how receptive she would be to my opinions on presenting a more professional image. I have, however, been a sounding board for her in the past so having something to say on the subject wouldn’t be completely out of the scope of what’s normal in our relationship. Still, I was nervous but realized I was no longer willing to ignore uncomfortable facebook posts and group emails that needed a good scrubbing.
So, I pulled up my socks and sent her a private email that began with the acknowledgement that I knew what I was about to say was unsolicited and that the reason I was sending it was because I wanted to share some ideas that may help her with her success. I suggested that using swear words may alienate potential customers (young or not, cool or not) and her reply to the suggestion didn’t surprise me. She disagreed with my perspective and said her current clients/followers “loved” her approach. Okay. I then replied with the thought that to grow a business one has to appeal to a larger audience than their friends and that my suggestion to clean up her potty mouth may help her with that. She disagreed with that, too, and that’s when I realized that I had reached the go forward or stop in my tracks moment in the conversation.
I stopped in my tracks. I had said what I had to say, she responded, that’s that. What made it easy for me to stop? It wasn’t the risk of ruining a family relationship or alienating someone I care deeply about. Turns out it was the realization that having said what I needed to say (respectfully, of course) put the information out there. My words were in the air, in her mind, and now had the potential to sink in at some point. That was enough for me and, I hope, will be enough for her when she’s ready to accept them.