My Tail Between My Legs Comes at More than One Cost

dog tail between legsIn my last post I wrote about conflict. You can find it here if you want to catch up before reading this post.

I mentioned in the last post about attempting to confront, starting to confront a boss about not getting paid for a visit to walk a dog when I was pet sitting as an employee.

When I first started the job, I was briefed about policies by the owner, who was quite personable and I liked her a lot from the start. My schedule was emailed to me every Sunday night and she started me out slowly so I wasn’t overwhelmed and inundated. She seemed fair.

One policy was that if she’d put a visit on my schedule but I’d reached the destination without cancellation from the client and if the client decided they didn’t want me to walk the dog, I’d still get paid for that visit.

Well, one particular time while I was training a new employee, I  met said employee at a fairly regular client’s house who was on my schedule. The client was home, so this was a chance for the new employee to not only meet the dog, but also the human client.

When I asked if she wanted us to take her dog for a walk, she said it was too hot. So shortly thereafter, the new employee and I were on our way.

When I received my pay, which should have included that visit, the money for said visit was missing.

So I asked my boss about it through email.

She wrote back asking, “Why should you get paid for that?” And then she continued with “Just curious. Just curious. Just curious.”

Writing “Just curious” three times indicated to me she was agitated and probably felt that I was asking for something I had no right to be asking about.

I was confused. I immediately felt the stress from the fear of her response to my confrontation, building up. I didn’t understand at all why the sudden change in policy or her behavior. How was this different than other similar circumstances where she’d indeed followed through and paid me.

So I backed down. I told her too, foolishly, kissing her ass, that I didn’t want to get into it if it was going to cause trouble. AAAAAGHHHH!!!

I ruminated on this for a long time. The rumination I think is one of the most painful results of non-resolution. Even if she hadn’t given in to paying me (and I think I could’ve gotten her to, since I had a valid argument), if I had stuck up for myself and what I knew to be true and pointed out her own policy, even if I’d lost, I would’ve felt much better about me.

It’s not so much the outcome, although that’s important too, it’s more about how you walk away from it feeling about yourself I think. If I had stuck up for myself in this scenario, I would have still thought less of her and disliked her more. It would’ve told me more about her, while at the same time, I would’ve gotten the message across to both myself and her that I have no problem rocking the proverbial boat and that I will still say my piece in spite of any intimidation or contention.

A history of not standing up for myself in many situations has resulted in depression, rumination and lack of self confidence. In addition, those people who I backed down to, saw I would do just that, which gave them an easier opening to take advantage next time.

Of course the lack of self confidence was already there but that is a vicious cycle. It gets worse the more you don’t deal with conflict in a healthy way.

It has also chipped away at my self-respect, which is something else that was already absent in the first place to not stand up to conflict.

Conflict, Confrontation and Confidence

The Path Of ConflictAre you afraid of conflict?

I don’t think the fear is necessarily of the conflict itself. I think the fear comes from the outcome of the confrontation. Healthy confrontation probably comes more easily to people who have self-confidence. Confidence to speak up for themselves. And those who don’t worry too much about how the other person will react/respond.

So you can bet, codependents hate conflict.

In speaking about confrontation, I’m not talking about the aggressive, in your face kind of confrontation. I’m just talking about standing up for yourself, telling someone how you feel about how s/he treated you. I’m talking about two employees settle and resolve a dispute, or settling and resolving a dispute with your boss. Or telling your sister her sarcastic comment at last night’s get together hurt you. Telling your husband you don’t want to buy the house he has his heart set on.  Just for a few examples.

Dealing with conflict in a healthy way, can build intimacy and strengthen relationships between and among people. Conflict really is unavoidable in life for most of us. Even if we keep to ourselves, coming in contact with other people is still inevitable.

My guess would be that most people who have been abused, bullied and scapegoated, don’t have the confidence for confrontation and fear conflict because they don’t want to be disliked, they don’t want to be abandoned, they don’t want to be talked about and laughed at.

One thing I was afraid of with my family is not only being verbally attacked but the frustration of thinking of good points to make after the argument (which was usually me being berated, really) is finished. The more stressed I am, the more difficult it is to think straight. Plus I knew the modus operandi of my family members. With them it generally turned into them blaming me or berating for something, rather than a healthy discussion. Most of the time it didn’t end with resolution either. I hate the rumination that causes.

“I should have said this when they said that.”

For me, I’m sort of middle of the road about sticking up for myself or saying something, because it depends on who the person is that I feel the conflict with. It can also depend on what the situation is, what it’s about and my tolerance and confidence levels that particular day.

Values come into play too and what is important to you as far as being worth speaking up about.

A personal example of conflict, confrontation, resolution:
When my pay check was short once, I had no problem confronting my boss at the time, in a calm, respectful manner and showing her the discrepancy. And even though she didn’t see the mistake after my first explanation, I continued until she saw it and did something about it.

Here are two examples of conflict and confrontation with no resolution:
1. When my pet-sitting boss didn’t pay me for a particular visit, I backed down when I could read in her response email that she was not in agreement and seemingly beginning to become hostile. She asked me why she should pay me when I hadn’t walked the dog. And then followed that with, “just curious” three times.

I had a good argument pertaining to this.  She had told me numerous times that if I showed up for a visit but the dog didn’t get walked because the owner wass home but didn’t call to cancel, then the customers are charged and I get paid.

But instead of reminding her of her policy and the fact that she’d paid me plenty of other times before when in similar circumstances, I just wrote back,  Never mind, I don’t want to cause any conflict.”

I still kick myself for this one when I think about it. Even if I didn’t end up winning the argument and getting paid, at least I would’ve felt better about myself having made my point.

2. When a friend of a friend gas-lighted me while I was calling her out on her gossip tendencies, I realized the confrontation wasn’t worth it. When I saw it wasn’t a matter of her not understanding but a matter of her own actual conscious and deliberate denial, I realized it wasn’t worth it to ‘try to make her understand.’ I knew she understood but she was purposefully pretending she didn’t and saying things that indicated she thought I was being silly or ridiculous. It was condescending really. She wanted me to believe I was the one being ridiculous and that she actually had the fucking right to gossip because of her opinion of this person. And my sticking up for this person made me as bad as the woman she was gossiping about.

The last time I saw this woman, she pretended not to see me. Given where I was in her vicinity there is no way she didn’t see me. Did I die because she now doesn’t like me because I refused to play her sick game? Nope. I also saw that she wasn’t worth worrying about resolution and I also knew I said as much as I could say as she kept interrupting me.

I used to care so much about what she thought of me. I used to wonder what I could do to get her to like me. She is a very old friend of mine’s significant other so that is partly why it was so important to me at one point.

I noticed that on Facebook, seeing her comments triggered me because it reminded me that she didn’t like me, wouldn’t even acknowledge me if she didn’t really have to so I blocked her. It helped so much to not have to see her anywhere on FB even if she’d commented on a thread I didn’t see it.

But now I couldn’t care less about her opinion. So even though there was no resolution between us, I have some resolution within myself.

In regards to the two examples of not standing up for myself until resolution was reached, I ruminate on the former much more than on the latter. The former was about a stance for myself, not so much the money, although getting the money that was missing was important to me.

The latter was about the other person’s behavior that I could choose not to subject myself to.

{Not that I’m perfect and have never gossiped. Something I’ve been working on and staying aware of. I think generally that gossip is a sign of being angry at the person and there is something unresolved between the gossiper and the one being gossiped about.}

Check out a book called,
The Coward’s Guide to Conflict: Empowering Solutions for Those Who Would Rather Run Than Fight

An interesting point about conflict and confrontation is that it really intertwines with drawing boundaries. In speaking up for yourself and your values, you are actively drawing a boundary and when you fold, give in or even lack compromise in certain situations, you are sending a message about how porous or not, your resolve for drawing that boundary is.