Why Don’t You?

Article by Steve Harvey, Associate Impromptu

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” Oscar Wilde

We all do it, don’t we? Avoid tricky conversations. We evade them altogether, or we come at them from such oblique angles that we miss the mark. Sometimes the mark doesn’t even feature. It eludes us. And we elude it. We don’t say what we mean. We don’t mean what we say. We mean to, and we miss.

Why do you? Miss, that is. Or, maybe more usefully, why don’t you? Have the conversation, I mean. Why don’t you say it, just say it, in the spirit of honest, respectful, authentic veracity? Why don’t you?

We all do it, or don’t. Our emotions get in the way. Our fear, of ourselves; of negative consequences. We care. We care about the relationship, about our impact, about upsetting them, about ruining a friendship or a professional connection. Or, maybe, we don’t care; enough. It isn’t important enough, we tell ourselves. It doesn’t matter; enough, we say.

We pretend it’s not an issue, don’t we? It’ll go away. We can live with it. It’s our problem, not theirs. We anticipate their response. We build it up into something; something that resides in our trepidation, in our unease, rather than in the essence.

We tangle ourselves in a web of judgement and incrimination. We blame. We cast aspersions. We indulge in a narrative in which they have malign intent. Alternatively, we invert. We invent a self-defeating self-narrative. We are unworthy. We are reprehensible. We are responsible. We are culpable. We are dishonourable.

We pull back. They will be hurt. They won’t like us. They are too fragile. We are too blunt. It gets uncomfortable. We withdraw. It is awkward. We skirt. We skirmish. We switch-track, conflating concerns. They switch-track, coalescing issues. It gets complicated. Multi-dimensional. We can’t hold it. We demur. We notice only the discomfort, not the truth.

It doesn’t feel safe. It doesn’t feel safe, at all, we tell ourselves.

We doubt our intention. We confuse our purpose. We procrastinate. We question our self-belief. We under-prepare. We over-prepare. We compose a script in our minds, then tear up the page. We equivocate. We moralise. We doubt ourselves. We doubt our capacity to hold the conversation. We anticipate pessimistically. We believe we will engineer the outcome we predict. We pull back. We go forward. We engineer the outcome we predict.

It hangs in the balance. We hang in the balance.

We avoid that conversation, the conversation, the real conversation. The one we know we should have. The one we want to have. The one that will make a difference. The one that will unlock something. Will free you. Will free them. Will remove the clutter, the angst, the detritus, the niggling, the disingenuousness, the pretence, the pressure, the anxiety, the tension, the furrowed brow, the stiff back, the stiff upper lip, the baloney, the blarney, the worrying, the cacophony of silence.

We want it. We avoid it. We want to. We withhold.

Why do you?

Why don’t you?

“To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest.” Mahatma Gandhi