mean girls, fight scene, canteen, fighting, arguing, lindsay lohan, rachel mcadams, fantasy fights

Confronta-phobia: when even the fantasy fights go wrong

So here you are and it’s 3am and you are not sleeping. Instead you are mentally agonising over having to have an awkward conversation with someone. In your head it’s going something like this:

“Hi X, please sit down. Thank you for this report, but it needs a bit of a tweak. My helpful and brilliant suggestions are here, can I have it back on the desk of my enormous office ASAP?” This is the first fantasy version of this conversation. And then things take a darker turn and you imagine it this way:

“Hi X, [thinks to self: is X looking rather aggressive?]. Thank you for this report but…” And suddenly X is throwing an executive chair at you, and walking out, complaining to HR and…

And it being 3am you then sit in this hell loop for the next 3 hours, having the fantastical fight over and over again, ‘You can’t handle the truth’, until you drag your sorry carcass out of bed and into the office to attempt *the conversation* while over-caffeinated and genuinely traumatised.

Why is it that even a fantasy fight feels so unbelievably precarious these days? As teenagers the fantasy bust-ups were almost fun – we were so tough in our heads and our combat pants, endlessly slaying adversaries with our imagined withering put-downs. Now the outcome of the fantasy fight is always abandonment. The pre-drawn conclusion is that someone is going to get up and leave forever.

Can we risk a confrontation? Will it go the way we planned? Should we even be planning? Maybe we will just say nothing. Reduced to seething inwardly. Tip-toeing around situations we feel uncomfortable in, scared to be the bitch or bossy.

Well if you do find yourself in one of those *situations* here are four thoughts on how to give criticism:

  1. Say it face to face. Yes an email is tempting. No it is not helpful – easily misinterpreted and a bit cowardly. Are you that person? No.
  2. Easy on the ‘buts’. If you must ‘but’ put the bad stuff first. “This is not working yet but it will be brilliant.” There is a theory that ‘but’ cancels out everything what precedes it.
  3. Push the positive. Offer helpful suggestions: clear examples of how to make things work, try to avoid negging.
  4. Practice. And no we don’t mean in the shower/3am zone. With an actual real life friend. I know. Exhausting.
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