This Broad's View: Don't Be a Coward. Call


By Kristin Crites | @KristinACrites

As a professional communicator, a realtor, and a person who simply exists in society, I am fed up with people who avoid conflict by using text messages instead of calling. Text messaging has allowed everyone to become cowards. It has allowed people to avoid facing confrontation head on via the two-steps-removed intermediary of the text message, and to take the easy way out.

And it’s driving me nuts.

I have a Master’s degree in communication, and I’ve dealt professionally in coaching people through conflict, confrontation, and disappointment on a near-daily basis. These things are unavoidable in life. So it pisses me off when people try to sidestep the potentially uglier parts of conflict--that bad feeling of knowing a decision they’ve made is going to upset someone else-- by texting me. One way I often experience this is in my job as a realtor.

I have found 98% of the time, my friends who have decided not to use my services won’t even take the time to let me know via conversation. If they let me know at all, it is via text message.

Do you want to know why that pisses me off? It sure as heck isn’t for using another agent. As a realtor, none of my friends are obligated in any way, shape, or form, to use me as their agent. I mean, they should. I am really freaking good at my job. But, I get if they don’t want to mix friendship with business, if they happen to know another real estate agent (seriously, who doesn’t know like eight realtors?!), or have some other reason.

I’m a big girl. You have your reasons to go with a different realtor, and as I stated earlier, I won’t take offense if you let me know in advance that’s what you want to do. Our friendship is more important than any business deal. It’s the carelessness of your approach--the cold text and the callousness of its execution that stings the most.

Conflict is scary. I get that. I have spent years teaching students and even C-suite executives how to handle it. I get that most people don’t like it and just don’t want to deal with it. But when you avoid the conversation, you nullify the other person’s feelings. What you imply is that your relationship with that person, whether it be personal or professional, doesn’t mean enough to you to face your fears, to be uncomfortable, and be straight with them.

Maybe this a by-product of a society that tends to treat our friends and spouses the worst. Hey, they’ll love us no matter what, right? On the contrary, it is our friends and family we must be best to, and that takes work, effort, and respect enough to have tough conversations when they arise.

It is with Jon, my husband, to whom I make sure I say “please,” “thank you,” or “I’m sorry,” the most. Our girls have learned please and thank you early, largely due to watching us model it for them. They hear us thank them for putting their shoes up, for hanging up their coats. It’s a practicable skill that keeps me from taking Jon, our girls, and our life for granted.

Conflict sucks. It is hard when you know you have news or information that may hurt someone else. So instead of solely thinking about yourself and how uncomfortable you’re going to feel delivering the news, take some time to practice empathy and think about the other person. Doing so asserts their value, and reaffirms your value of the friendship.

Don’t be a coward. Call.