Time and time again, I’m hearing stories about people ducking in order to avoid an uncomfortable conversation, a possible conflict, an angry spouse, an annoying co-worker, etc. Both men and women fall prey to the ducking phenomenon. Not surprisingly, ducking works no better for men than it does for women. Ducking is a bad move for anyone, regardless of whether they do it at home or work, or with friends, parents, siblings or children.
More often than not, the very thing that ducking is designed to do—get people off our backs—is the very thing it creates—people on our backs. So many of us duck, though, because, in the short run, it does get us what we want. It avoids a conflict, settles our partners down and gives us a respite from conflict…for the moment. The problem happens later, when the issue resurfaces, when we didn’t do what we said we were going to do or when we refuse to discuss things in any meaningful way.
Here are several examples of the way we duck:
1. Make promises we have no intention of keeping just to get someone to stop yelling, nagging or complaining.
2. Avoid sharing information that we know will upset someone. In other words, we partake in lies of omission and think it’s okay as long as it wasn’t an overt lie.
3. Complain, rant and rave to our friends or co-workers about someone, yet never say anything to the person we’re upset with.
4. Deny being upset with someone when they ask us directly, then go behind their back to tell others how angry we are.
5. Tell people what we think they want to hear rather than compassionately telling them the truth.
6. Making up excuses about why we can’t go out with someone or attend an event or…rather than being honest about why we don’t want to go.
7. Refusing to discuss something with your partner, friend, etc. that you know would upset them because you don’t want to get into a fight or you just want to let it go and move past it.
This list could go on and on since there are endless ways we duck. The bottom line however, is that it doesn’t serve us. Ducking often results in others feeling frustrated, untrusting and hopeless with us and in our relationship. It leaves us feeling fearful, resentful and tense. Over the long haul these consequences build to unwieldy proportions, resulting in major problems in our relationships or in our lives.
Stop the ducking. Learn to be honest and forthright. Although this is an incredibly difficult shift to make, it is also a powerful one. When we’re able to step into life in an honest, respectful and forthright manner, we feel incredibly grounded, centered and strong. We feel healthy. It’s a powerful shift, not only for ourselves, but for those around us as well. Stop ducking and step in as a healthy, centered adult.
CHALLENGE: Pay attention to all the times you duck in life. Get conscious about how you do this and why. Begin to step into the world differently by choosing a safe person to begin to be honest and forthright with. Notice what it feels like when you are truthful in a clean fashion—regardless of how others respond. Every time you’re successful, pause and take that moment of health in. Pat yourself on the back for your courage.