Recently an interpersonal conflict I’ve had with someone for years came to a point of needing intervention. At first I had feelings of validation (like “Yeah! She’s been doing that for years! Someone finally noticed! Awesome! See?”)
It’s been humbling to realize that I am just as much to blame as she is for our conflict because of behavior I have chosen. No one made me behave the way I did. It’s not a reaction to circumstances, not something that made me act that way. It’s nobody’s fault but mine. My choice and my responsibility.
Sadly, I didn’t start strolling down this road of truth through some honorable desire for self-enlightenment…no, not this stubborn hard-head. It took a kick in the pants by someone I respect who knows us both raising his voice and finally letting me know his frustration!
So there I was, sprawled out face-first on the “truth road” with scraped knees, a bruised ego, and a mouthful of dirt thinking “What the hell do I do now?”
I’d just finished reading a book I like called “Just Listen” by Mark Goulston. The author recommended a book he said changed his own life: “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” by Marshall Goldsmith. I thought, “Okay, this should help me deal with that person who’s making me miserable and I’ll find the way to fix her.” Again…awfully hard-headed…
I started reading right away, thinking “I’m really not sure I like this book but Goulston did so I’ll keep going.” The truth can hurt and we don’t always like to change the way we look at ourselves. When I got to the meat of the book, the twenty challenges in interpersonal behaviors the author writes about, I thought, “Hmmm, that’s interesting,” then “okay,” progressing quickly to “uh-oh,” and “oh sh*&!”
I made a list of behaviors I want to change, obsessing over it for a few days, adding and erasing, before going to a very trusted friend who I knew would provide completely honest and blunt insight. We went over everything in detail and talked for at least an hour. I am grateful for the help and I suspect he was relieved to finally tell me what he knew I’d needed to hear for a very long time. Having a friend like that is a rare and precious gift.
While the process was extremely humbling, I also feel more empowered than I ever have before. Apologies have begun, I’m choosing to change my behavior, and although I know it’ll be a marathon not a sprint, it feels so good to be happy!