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How to stop grumbling and take action instead

How I got stuck

I was frustrated.   I was annoyed. I wasn’t getting the level of service I was wanting.

What I thought would take weeks stretched into months – and then more months. And yet more months. Apparently what I wanted ‘was difficult to do’. And a persistent fault had to be solved by another contractor.

And I grumbled. I grumbled to my husband. I grumbled to friends. I grumbled to the universe. Frequently. Loudly. With more and more exasperation.

The person concerned was unaware of my angst, but I was like a broken record. I was stuck.

And what was keeping me stuck was the way I was thinking.

I was putting all my energy into criticising the contractor as ‘Incompetent’ ‘No sense of urgency’ ‘Inflexible’. Each additional hiccup reinforced my judgements. My outrage grew.

‘Why don’t you cut your losses and get someone else to finish the job?’ said friends.

Good question!

Why did I let an unsatisfactory situation go on for so long? Why did I pay such a high emotional price?  After all, it was no fun to shed tears of frustration on a weekly basis.

At first my justification was ‘I’d be charged a lot more elsewhere, so I’ll hang on.’ But there was something much more significant than that.

The real reason? I was scared. I was scared that my irritation and frustration would spill out … that the contractor would feel shame, and get defensive… that the interaction would damage the relationship.

And then I would feel guilty.

So I did nothing.

What would you do?

At this point, I imagine the more straight-talking amongst you would be getting impatient, wondering why on earth I was pussy-footing around. You’d probably have dived in long before with some straight talking:  ‘you haven’t done what I expected you to do. This is taking far too long. I’m taking my business elsewhere’.

Well, that would have broken the log jam – but I didn’t want to go in with an accusatory energy. Nor did I want to cope with the likely consequences.

So what did I do?

I looked at each of my criticisms and judgments – and reflected on what they showed me about what I was needing. I wanted the job to be completed.

It sounds so obvious: of course I wanted the job done. But focusing just on that made all the difference!

Instead of feeling anxious, I felt strong. I knew what I had to say because I was in touch with what was really important for me.

The conversation that ensued was mutually respectful and understanding.

I offered no judgments or criticism.

No criticisms or judgments were heard (as far as I could tell).

The relationship remained intact.

And I had the satisfaction of knowing that I had acted in accordance with my values.
My only regret was that I hadn’t arrived at that point much, much sooner!


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