The Urge to Get Along
My wife and I can each be pretty hard-headed. I say that she is the most stubborn person I know, and she says I need to get to know myself better. We are that way because experience has shown each of us that we are usually right, so we trust our instincts. We try to be “straight shooters” and prefer others to be straight with us.
So, it is foreign to me when I’m around someone whose top goal is to get along and not make waves. Since I view an honext exchange of ideas to be healthy, I have a hard time understanding why someone would go to great pains to avoid conflict – even to the point of refusing to give an opinion when asked.
Years ago, back when I was working in radio and in my early 20s, I had a friend who would never give an opinion. When asked what he wanted to do, his answer was “whatever everybody else wants to do.” Even when given some options from which to choose, he said “I don’t know – somebody else decide.” I now know that he was simply not making waves, but back then he simply appeared weak – having such a low opinion of himself that no one else had a very high opinion of him, either.
I think that it is an issue of trust. Only after people have learned that it is possible to disagree and still be respected by the person with whom they disagreed can they begin to trust that conflict can be anything other than destructive.